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Update on China's plastic bag ban

Categories: East Asia, China, Citizen Media, Environment

New plastic bag rules [1] 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 [2] since the ban. News outlets reported mixed enforcement [3], though Beijing authorities did fine [4] 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 [5] weeks after the ban was announced in January, and 20,000 people lost their jobs.

Daniel Beekman at Blogging Beijing interviews locals [6] 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 [7] 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.