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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: China Puts New Restrictions on Single-Use Plastic

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It’s been two years since China turned the commercial world of recycling upside down when it stopped accepting most plastic from overseas. This week, the government announced another sweeping change: phasing out single-use plastics.

Non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in China’s biggest cities by the end of this year. And in all cities and towns in the country by 2022.

Single-use straws?

No longer available in restaurants in China by the end of this year.

Those are just a couple of broad policy changes announced on Sunday by China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The pace is faster than that adopted by some other countries, states, cities and counties that have restricted the use of single-use plastic. The overall plans will be phased in over five years — and there will be some areas that will be given more time to adjust.

Markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables will have until 2025 to phase out plastic bags — hotels will also get some extra time to shift their policies.

But by the year 2025, hotels will not be able to give any single-use plastic items to their guests.

The catering business has a tighter deadline — no single-use cutlery in that industry in China’s major city as of the end of this year.

More details about the execution of the policy will be coming, but the central government says the goal is to protect public health and “to build a beautiful China.”

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