Combatting Plastic Pollution in China

China, a country in East Asia with a population of 1.4 billion, produces the most amount of plastic waste each year. The high population density of major cities and popularity of takeaway and online shopping which uses plastic packaging have contributed to this problem. Read on to find out what they’re doing to reduce this number and combat ocean pollution. 

How China's ban on plastic waste imports became an 'earthquake' that threw  recycling efforts into turmoil | South China Morning Post
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  1. Policy Changes

According to the BBC, China’s National Development and Reform Commission has implemented a policy to ban plastic bags in urban areas in 2022. In addition, restaurants across the country must reduce their plastic use by 30% and hotels must stop providing single use plastics by 2025. 

  1. Imported Waste Ban

In 2018, China banned the importation of plastic waste from other countries. Previously, imported plastic waste “could be recycled and converted into other plastic goods, but less valuable plastic waste is usually discarded without proper management” (Brill) resulting in the pollution of the surrounding bodies of water. 

  1. Action from Local Government

China is divided into different regions called provinces that are similar to states in the U.S. Multiple provinces have devised systems to prevent plastic ocean pollution by monitoring waste, hiring professional clean-up teams, and creating waste collection facilities that serve as an alternative to disposing waste in the ocean. A governing body in Shanghai introduced a fine in 2013 to discourage the sale of products that are “excessively-packaged” in plastic. Jilin province has used widespread publicity campaigns to raise awareness about the issue in shopping centers and some companies in the Jilin province have also begun to invest in biodegradable plastic pollution because of governmental incentives. 

  1. Notable Organizations

Shanghai Rendu Ocean Center is an organization founded in 2007 that hosts monthly clean-ups at local beaches and has launched educational campaigns to encourage citizens to sort out their waste and participate in efforts to minimize pollution in the Shanghai oceanfront. 

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The Dalian Environmental Protection Volunteers Association is working on several environmental projects including:

  • “Blue Ocean” Dalian Coastal Litter Investigation and Prevention Project
  • “Green Sword Action” Eradicating Foreign Species Project
  • “Planting Green Seeds” Tree-Planting Project
  • “Igniting Green – Global One-Hour Activities,” authorized by WWF
  • “Protect the Liaodong Spotted Seal” Project

BlueRibbon Ocean Conservation Association in Sanya is “a non-profit NGO dedicated to ocean education and awareness raising, marine debris clean-up, coastal ecosystem conservation and the promotion of developing a non-governmental ocean conservation network in China” (UN Ocean Conference).

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