Why can't the "plastic limit order" stop these "plastic use" habits

  my country attaches great importance to environmental pollution caused by plastic waste.

In 2007, the General Office of the State Council issued a notice on restricting the production and sales of plastic shopping bags, clearly stipulating that from June 1, 2008, "plastic restrictions" will be used to reduce the use of plastic products by increasing the cost of use.

Since then, in 2011 and 2020, relevant authorities have issued guidelines on restricting and banning the use of specific plastic products.

For example, the new "Plastic Restriction Order"-"Opinions on Further Strengthening the Treatment of Plastic Pollution" issued in early 2020, measures both administrative and technical aspects to ensure that plastic pollution is effectively controlled by 2025.

In order to further implement the new "plastic restriction order", in July 2020, nine departments including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology jointly issued the "Notice on Solid Promotion of Plastic Pollution Control", which defines the prohibition in detail. , Refined standards for plastic limit management.

  After years of continuous promotion and extensive publicity, all sectors of society have reached consensus on reducing the use of plastic products and better protecting the ecological environment.

However, in specific life scenarios, some past "plastic use" habits still exist, leading to the presence of disposable non-degradable plastic products.

To this end, our reporter interviewed relevant consumers, practitioners and industry experts to learn about the "plastic use" habits that affect the landing effect of the "plastic restriction order".

Habit 1: Use paper straws to influence "the pleasure of drinking milk tea"

  Since the implementation of the "Plastic Restriction Order", the catering industry has responded to the national call to replace long-term non-degradable plastic straws with paper straws.

The reporter visited some cafes in Beijing, Chengdu, Taiyuan and other places and found that the drinks currently sold in stores such as Heytea, Starbucks, Luckin and other stores have provided paper straws as a substitute for plastic straws; some stores of McDonald's and KFC Plastic straws, cutlery and packing bags were replaced before the implementation of the new regulations.

  However, due to taste problems, the use of paper straws has caused some consumers to complain about their own "bad" experience: "Difficult to use! There is also a strange wood taste that affects the taste of the drink!" "I support it very much from the perspective of environmental protection, but the bubble It swells and softens within an hour, and it feels like eating toilet paper." "Without the name of the factory or the material, I don't feel very relieved." "Are the raw materials and production waste of paper products more environmentally friendly?"...

  Some consumers said that they are more willing to open the lid of the cup to drink directly than using paper straws; some consumers bluntly said that "paper straws affect the pleasure of drinking milk tea" and "the happiness deprived of paper straws" has become a lot on Weibo. A hot topic discussed by milk tea lovers; more consumers said that if the store provides both paper straws and plastic straws, they are more willing to choose plastic straws.

  It is reported that the raw material price of ordinary plastic straws is about 8,000 yuan per ton, while the biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA) plastic straw raw materials are nearly 40,000 yuan per ton, and the raw materials for paper straws are about 22,000 yuan per ton. The price of straws is 2 to 3 times that of ordinary plastic straws, and the price of polylactic acid plastic straws is 5 times that of ordinary plastic straws.

A person in charge of a straw production plant in Chengdu told reporters that due to the large price difference between paper straws and polylactic acid plastic straws, the number of orders for paper straws currently received by the factory is significantly higher.

  Industry experts pointed out that although paper straws are easier to degrade compared to plastic straws and also meet the requirements of the "plastic restriction order", paper straws are not necessarily safer and more environmentally friendly than plastic straws.

China food industry analyst Zhu Danpeng pointed out that whether paper straws and plastic straws are safe depends on whether their production processes are standardized. "Some plastic straws that use inferior plastics and paper straws that do not meet the standards are harmful."

However, Zhu Danpeng said that as disposable tableware, paper straws have better environmental compatibility.

"Under the background of the'plastic restriction orders' issued in various places, paper straws are only a temporary substitute, and there will be a lot of room for improvement in the future."

Habit 2: "Familiar with the door" when using plastic mulch

  The reporter visited and found that in some rural areas in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hebei and other places, some farmers still choose disposable non-degradable plastic mulch when planting, making the residual agricultural film a "white pollution" in the field and seriously hampering agricultural production. life.

A farmer interviewed told reporters that disposable, non-degradable plastic mulches are "skilled" and are easy to buy on the market and at low cost.

Others said that these disposable non-degradable mulches had been purchased before the local "plastic restriction order" was implemented, and "it was wasted if it was not used."

  Lu Bo, a senior engineer at the Institute of Physics and Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and deputy director of the Hainan Degradable Plastics Technology Innovation Center, pointed out that the mulch film that was once widely used in agricultural production is extremely fragile and very destructive to the ecological environment. It should be banned as soon as possible.

"Due to the different standards of mulch film used in different regions and different crops, this requires a diversity of substitutes. However, there is no good mulch film substitute, which is also the more difficult part of the'plastic limit'."

  "Plastic substitutes are in various forms, and the key is to meet the requirements of recyclability, easy recycling and biodegradability." Lu Bo pointed out that the current fully biodegradable plastic products have been used as an emerging material to a certain extent. With the continuous emergence of new materials, more and more products will become potential substitutes in the future."

  In addition to finding new materials that are recyclable, easy to recycle, and biodegradable as plastic substitutes, Shanxi Province is also worth learning from the exploration of promoting fully biodegradable mulch film trials and demonstrations and strengthening the monitoring of farmland mulch film residues.

  "The Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Shanxi Province will promote the use of standard mulch films throughout the province, cooperate with market supervision and management and other departments to carry out law enforcement inspections, and promote the demonstration of fully biodegradable mulch films." said Yao Jiguang, a member of the party group and deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Shanxi Province, Shanxi will establish an agricultural film recycling system, cultivate waste agricultural film processing enterprises, realize a market-oriented operation mechanism of "enterprise + recycling outlets + farmers", and increase the agricultural film recycling rate.

At the same time, 320 farmland film residue monitoring points will be deployed across the province. Through long-term fixed-point monitoring, we will gradually find out the bottom of the province's film residue pollution and its changing trend, and provide basic data and theoretical basis for the continuous prevention and control of film pollution.

Habit 3: Non-degradable plastic bags are cheap, easy to obtain and convenient

  "Environmentally friendly plastic bags are too light and thin, and they will be punctured with a little effort." A takeaway delivery person told reporters that when delivering meals, they would worry about the outer packaging being punctured and the soup overflowing and set a few more bags, so they were delivered to consumers. Foods for takeaways are always wrapped in "three layers inside and three layers outside."

  In March 2021, the "Hainan Province 2021 Prohibition of Plastics Joint Law Enforcement Action Plan" was promulgated.

According to the plan, Hainan will strengthen the implementation of the ban on plastics in party and government agencies, state-owned enterprises, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, hotels, and tourist attractions, and focus on key areas such as wholesale markets, bazaars, and catering centers, ports and terminals. Joint enforcement actions are carried out in key areas such as foreign imports, as well as in key links such as illegal production, illegal storage and wholesale of local enterprises.

  This is not the first time that Hainan Province has declared war on "white pollution".

As early as 2008, Hainan implemented the "Provisions of Hainan Special Economic Zone on Restricting the Use of Disposable Plastic Products in Production, Transportation, Sales, and Storage."

The 2009 law enforcement investigation results of the Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial People's Congress showed that the prevention and control of plastic pollution did achieve certain results at the beginning of the "plastic limit".

However, compared to before the implementation of the "plastic limit" regulations, the number of disposable plastic bags used every day in Hainan Province increased from 1 million to 3.2 million in 2017.

Consumers buy and use disposable non-degradable plastic bags in large quantities to facilitate shopping.

Especially in the farmer’s market, when customers are still picking vegetables, the red and white plastic bags have already been placed in front of the customers by the stall owner for free.

  This phenomenon is not alone.

In large and medium-sized cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xi'an, and Taiyuan, many young consumers are not used to carrying reusable cloth and paper bags with them when shopping in supermarkets, but choose to buy plastic bags on the spot.

In small farmer's markets and small supermarkets all over the country, disposable non-degradable plastic bags are still everywhere because they are cheap and easy to obtain.

In some rural areas in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hebei and other places, "white garbage" has not been properly recycled.

Among them, there are subjective psychological reasons such as long-term consumption habits and "good face" and "convenience" of consumers, as well as objective reasons such as high cost of new biodegradable plastic products, slow progress in research and development, and difficulty in application and promotion.

Habit 4: Too lazy to think about which plastic alternatives to choose

  According to the survey report of the Yangtze River Delta Consumer Protection Committee Alliance, degradable plastics have different decomposition forms such as biodegradation, photodegradation, thermal oxygen degradation, and compostable degradation.

Although products with a high degree of degradation should theoretically be used first, due to cost and price factors, the market for degradable products will also have "bad money driving out good money".

In addition, there are many alternatives sold on online platforms, and prices vary greatly. Due to the lack of comparable information, it is difficult for small businesses and consumers to make judgments and choices.

The reporter visited and found that the factor of "too lazy to think" was not ruled out.

  It is understood that there are currently four main types of non-degradable plastic substitutes: one is reusable items, such as environmentally friendly cloth bags, stainless steel tableware, ceramic cups, etc.; the second is paper products; the third is biomass products, mainly made of bagasse and bamboo. It is made of biomass such as fiber and starch; the fourth is fully biodegradable plastic products.

  "China's biodegradable materials industry has reached a certain scale, and some breakthroughs have been made in technology. In terms of production capacity, domestic thermoplastic biodegradable plastics such as PBAT and polylactic acid (PLA) plastics and other biodegradable materials are under construction and planned to produce nearly 10 million tons." Zheng Yueming, a representative of the National People’s Congress and chairman of Levima New Material Technology Co., Ltd., pointed out that although biodegradable materials have begun to be used in some fields, such as disposable shopping bags, disposable straws, disposable tableware, etc., the current use of biodegradable materials There are still risks of irrational product structure, insufficient high-end production capacity, and low-end overcapacity. The country needs to strengthen industrial guidance, improve the standard system, and further increase support for the research and development and industrialization of key core technologies.

  According to Tao Ailian, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Municipal Consumer Protection Commission, in addition to increasing the research and development, industrialization and promotion of degradable materials, we should also further increase the publicity of the new regulations on "banning and restricting plastics" so that consumers can grasp The necessary knowledge for "prohibited plastic".

"According to the requirements of each stage of the new regulations on'Prohibition and Restriction of Plastics', we must let consumers understand what new changes in their daily lives will be brought about, and how they should cooperate, and at the same time guide and encourage consumers to develop'choose suitable substitutes.' ''Not using plastic disposable tableware' and other consumption habits."

  (Our reporter Zhang Yaxiong)

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