China is far from being the ideal model of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” but we did good in one area: cutting down plastic bags.
China is still the world’s largest consumer of those flimsy things but we’ve managed to cut down on our consumption by half says research coming out from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2008, the government stepped in to curb the consumption by forcing stores to charge a fixed price to them.
It said that Chinese store owners can price their own plastic bags and keep the profit for themselves, but required the price to be higher than the acquisition value.
Prior to the regulation, people were using an average of 21 new plastic bags per week and almost never used the same bag twice. Following the 2008 ordinance, the consumption of bags was reduced by 49 percent and nearly half of them were getting re-used.
So we’re about halfway there, but there’s definitely “room for improvement” said researcher He Haoran. Bright and shining example, Ireland, was able to cut down on it’s consumption by 90%. How might we do that? According to He’s study “…if a country wants to reduce the consumption of plastic bags in the long term, it seems like repeated public information campaigns on environmental problems linked to plastic bags are very important.”