Asia Minute: Plastic Bag Bans Growing in Asia Pacific

Nov 29, 2018

Credit Trosmisiek / Wikimedia Commons

The list of places banning single-use plastic bags is growing. This week, Charleston, South Carolina joined 10 other state coastal communities in stopping their use. Next month, Boston will join the list. And in the Asia Pacific, recent developments about plastic in two countries are getting broader attention.

One New Year’s resolution adopted by the government of New Zealand concerns plastic bags. They’ll be banned by the middle of next year – phased out over the next six months.

There are exemptions for fruit and vegetable bags, but the ban does cover thicker plastic bags.

Officials said they built on the experiences of other locations. Specifically mentioning Austin, Texas, where thin plastic bags were banned and stores simply moved to using thicker plastic bags.

In Australia, restrictions on plastic bags are determined by each state. And in West Australia, retailers who hand out plastic bags will start to face fines of up to 5,000 dollars starting next year.

According to the advocacy website Reusethisbag.com, at least 32 countries now ban single-use plastic bags.

Credit Ben Mierement / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Most are in Africa — in part because plastic bags often clog drains, which can lead to stagnant water and infestations of mosquitoes — and potentially malaria.

In the Asia Pacific, China, India and Papua New Guinea ban plastic bags, and they are partially banned or taxed in half a dozen other regional countries from Japan and Indonesia to the Philippines.