As of April 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Environment identified that the Northern Chinese regions of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei had airborne particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) concentrations that averaged at 81 micrograms per cubic meter, which was a 5.2 percent increase as compared to previous months
Fremont, CA: Plastic is one of the most highly used commodities globally and, at the same time, also the most notorious pollutant. Governments world over are taking elaborate steps to eliminate the need for plastic from their ecosystems. Time after time, each summit of nations focuses on plastic pollution in some magnitude. China has gained popularity for the rapid rise of its economy. What people fail to remember is that China also has one of the world's highest pollution rates.
As of April 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Environment identified that the Northern Chinese regions of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei had airborne particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) concentrations that averaged at 81 micrograms per cubic meter, which was a 5.2 percent increase as compared to previous months. With the country's official standard being 35 micrograms per cubic meter, this nation's most populous cities are falling short of efficiently reducing pollution levels.
Following these events, China launched an ambitious plan to reduce the country's single-use plastics. By the end of 2020, the country aims to ban non-biodegradable plastics from all its major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The plan, however, does make exceptions for markets selling fresh produce. Restaurants and catering companies will have to reduce single-use plastics by 30 percent, including a ban on plastic utensils and non-biodegradable straws by the end of 2020. In five years, the country expects the hotel industry to stop offering single-use plastic items, and the postal service must end the use of plastic packaging.
The plan elaborately involves a timeline for various products to be phased out by the middle of the decade. China plans to implement this across all major cities first and then extend the program into other regions. The National Development and Reform Commission, an agency overseen by the State Council responsible for economic planning and administration, and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment have spearheaded this operation.
China is not only the world's largest producer of plastics but also the highest consumer. The new policy will help the country make amends for the vast amount of pollutants released into the environment. Despite being a remarkable policy, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has diverted attention. Experts believe the new policy is yet to receive the credit due to it.