According to Xinhua News Agency, China’s plastic bag ban, launched in 2008, has successfully reduced plastic bag production by 1.4 million tons, which is equivalent to saving 8.4 million tons of oil; the use of plastic bags has dropped by more than two thirds, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The national gross consumption of plastic bags has remained below 0.8 million tons a year since 2009, while in 2007, before the policy was implemented, consumption was 1 million tons. It is also important to note that the ban has had a good social impact. Consumers have grown accustomed to bringing their own shopping bags with them since the ban was implemented. And with schools and public institutions organizing awareness campaigns, people are more aware of the need to use reusable shopping bags than they used to be.
There have certainly been difficulties in the implementation of the policy. It is hard to supervise street stalls and vendors, many of whom are still offering flimsy plastic bags for free. The cost of reusable bags is high compared to that of plastic bags, which weakens the effects of the policy. An NDRC representative says that new measures are being designed regarding these difficulties. The new policy will encourage the production of reusable bags, and an extended producer-responsibility strategy will be adopted to help release “white pollution”.