(TMU) — China is waging war on plastic waste as it seeks to ban all single-use plastics from production and sale by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, a surge of new plastics are set to hit the world market as companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Saudi Aramco are ramping up the output of petrochemical-based products.
Over the course of the next five years, China plans on rolling out a nation-wide ban on single-use plastics that will restrict the production, sale, and use of plastic bags, microbeads, straws, packaging, tape, cotton swabs, and utensils, according to Science Alert.
“Consumption of plastic products, especially single-use items, has been consistently rising.
There needs to be stronger comprehensive planning and a systematic rollout to clean up plastic pollution.”
China is currently the largest producer of plastic in the world, generating nearly 30 percent of all products while the North American Free Trade area produces 19 percent and Europe produces 18 percent.
Last year, under the auspices of the United Nations, 180 countries agreed—with the exception of the United States—to treat plastic as hazardous waste. The deal is an upgrade to the 1989 Basel Convention on the control of hazardous waste adding plastics and is expected to sharply reduce the amount of the material being washed into the world’s oceans.
In 2018, a UN report issued on World Environment Day showed dozens of nations acting to cut plastic use worldwide.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced in 2018 at the United Nations’ World Environment Day that the country would also begin eliminating all single-use plastics with a goal to be rid of all items by 2020.
In March of last year, India banned imports of waste plastics from other nations only one year after China—the world’s biggest importer of scrap plastic—implemented a similar ban on Western imports, the Independent UK reported.
In general, the U.S. has resisted India and China’s own push for ending the use of single-use plastics, objecting to a proposal for a global ban in March of this year.
“The United States recognizes that marine plastic pollution is an important and growing issue, and that urgent action is needed to reduce the release of plastic into the environment,” a State Department spokesperson said in the statement to Bloomberg Environment.
The State Department further added the U.S. and other countries “are taking ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution,” but “we do not believe in a prescriptive approach where we target a specific product type because it is the subject of regulation in some countries and with no consideration of the associated environmental consequences.”
The G20 also made its own recommendations last year, where world leaders discussed reducing the glut of plastic waste in the oceans, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who hosted the G20 summit, said he wants his country to lead the world in reducing plastic trash in the ocean by developing biodegradables and using alternative materials to replace plastic products.
All across the world nations have begun banning single-use plastic items such as straws, packaging, and bags. Plastic produces toxic additives such as styrene and benzene as the products decompose. It’s an undeniable fact that single-use plastics are killing birds and marine life.
The recent decisions by India and China were presumably influenced by the EU list of to be banned plastics by 2021 as well. The EU ban was based on single-use common plastic items like cutlery, cotton buds, straws, and stirrers. Plastic bottles will incur a 90% collection target by 2029.
Despite efforts to ban plastics, oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Saudi Aramco are seeking to expand their efforts to produce plastifs due to fears of a climate crackdown on oil, according to Wired.
Plastic takes around 400 years to degrade, it kills vital ocean life and land animals, and is being found in the form of microplastics in places we wouldn’t expect. And finding a way to dispose of it hasn’t been easy—far less plastic is actually being recycled than the general population is being told.
However, hemp as an alternative can be used as packaging for many plastic products including straws and bags. It is 100% biodegradable and even has the ability to clean soil of pollutants by pulls it up through the plant’s roots. Hemp also grows easily in a variety of places. Plastic alternatives are also on the rise. Some bars are now using pasta in lieu of straws in Italy, scientists in Mexico have discovered a way to turn the prickly pear cactus into a plastic alternative, and plastic packaging is being replaced by banana leaves in some markets in Thailand.
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