China will experience a mini-revolution come Sunday, as the much anticipated (or dreaded, depending on which side of the fence you’re on) as the National Ban on Free Plastic Bags takes effect.
Though not a world first (Ireland implemented a 12 cent plastic bag tax in August 2002), it is a significant further sign that the Chinese Central Government is taking environmental issues seriously. Also, we should remember that this law (if successful) will reduce the plastic bag consumption of 1.3 Billion people (20% of the world’s population) by mandating that stores charge customers between 0.2 – 2.0 RMB (3 – 30 cents) per plastic bag.
Brits are prepared for it. Retailers like Marks & Spencer have reacted and introduced a 5 pence fee for plastic bags at their supermarkets. Hopefully setting a precedent, as Hong Kong supermarket chain Park ‘n’ Shop did when it started asking shoppers to pay 20 HK cents for plastic bags in November last year.
In Australia, Peter Garret MP (former frontman of the rock band Midnight Oil), a leading proponent of initiatives to reduce plastic bag use in the country seems to have lost federal support for a rumoured national $1 tax on plastic bags. There is however a chance that state governments, might continue exploring a $1 tax as a means of reducing plastic bag use.
As for America, where 100 billion shopping bags are used a year, things do not look optimistic, especially if you believe this WorldWatch spokesman’s claim that “The mentality in America is plastics bags come from plastic bag land. We don’t think about where they come from and where they’re going.”