China bans free bags! In a second post (“Getting rid of Plastic Bags” May 2007) on the topic, I read in the Herald Tribune with a mixture of satisfaction and curiosity about China’s intended policy to ban the giving out of free plastic bags in shops (effective June 1 2008). What caught my eye in a Figaro article (Jan 10, 2008 Economie section) on the same subject, was that China evaluates its plastic bag consumption at (“at least”) 1.75 billion per year. With some rough maths, that means that each Chinese person uses less than 1 1/2 plastic bags per year. Either the Chinese are adept at reusing those flimsy bags (because they buy so little?), or that is a somewhat understated consumption number. Judging by this photo (from AFP) in Beijing, there may be room on the upside.
Per the site, Clean Green Bag, the USA uses 100 billion plastic bags in a year. For frame of reference via Inhabitat, “Australians currently use about 6 billion plastic bags a year, with an average use of about 16 bags per person per week.”
From another Inhabitat post, I garnered these facts: there are 4 to 5 trillion non-degradable plastic bags used worldwide annually. 430,000 gallons of oil are needed to produce 100 million non-degradable plastic bags. And, from an MSNBC article, I quote the following “The Sierra Club estimated that if every one of New York City’s 8 million people used one less grocery bag per year, it would reduce waste by about 5 million pounds.”
It should be noted that the plastic bag ban in China goes into effect just before the Olympic Games in Beijing… Good timing!
If you want to do an “ecology” tour in China, that is also available… But don’t expect to visit their landfills or meet with the Ecology Minister… It’s more about a pleasant visit of the China wildlife and fauna.
Yet, for having banned plastic bags, there remains the question of the paper (as in from trees) bags. Action is needed on that front too. For the best solution, bring your own canvas bag (see here for Yahoo answer from NZ). And for more informative solution, read here via Clean Green Bag Alternatives.
The China ban is following in the footsteps of many countries or cities around the world, including Melbourne, Israel, Bangladesh, South Africa, Ireland and even 30 towns in Alaska. Last year, San Francisco went one step better than the levying of a fee for plastic bags by banning them altogether. In so doing, SF is setting the trend for the US. Read more here via TreeHugger.
For more viewing on the topic, check out the Plastic Bag exhibit that was staged in London. See here courtesy of Inhabitat. And here I found a great Green Glossary, from Green is Universal blog, courtesy of NBC.