New plastic bag rules went into effect throughout China on Sunday: now, ultra-thin plastic bags are banned, and shoppers need to pay a small fee for thicker ones. One supermarket reported daily plastic bag use fell 40 percent since the ban. News outlets reported mixed enforcement, though Beijing authorities did fine a shop 10,000 yuan ($1,200) for using ultra-thin bags. The ban has had other costs: Shanghaiist reminds us that China's largest plastic bag manufacturer closed weeks after the ban was announced in January, and 20,000 people lost their jobs.
Daniel Beekman at Blogging Beijing interviews locals about the ban:
“We brought our own bags today!” crowed a young woman outside the Shuang'an branch Chaoshifa – one of Beijing's most popular grocery chains. “We heard about the ban from T.V. – it's a good thing. We want to protect the environment. We want to host a successful Olympic Games.”
“I brought a bag here today,” a middle-aged woman said. “Why? To protect the environment – the same as you foreigners do.”
Chinese shoppers haven't revolted yet; 77.5 percent of respondents to an online survey conducted by CIIC-COMR, a market research firm, supported the ban.
Jane Voodikon at Barking at the Sun reports that despite the earthquake chaos, Chengdu merchants seem to be adhering to the ban:
I’ve made three purchases in the past 24 hours, all of which culminated in the cashier/shopkeeper asking if I’d like a bag. Instead of having to fiercely insist “bu yao daizi!” in attempts to avoid having anything I purchase wrapped individually in plastic bags, shopkeepers were asking me whether or not I “needed” a bag—and replying with a “xiexie” when my response was negative.