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From "Plastic Limitation" to "Prohibition Plastics", move faster

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The secondary pollution of dyed and derived microplastics (plastic fragments with a particle size of ≤ 5 mm) has attracted great attention from the international community in recent years. 2018
As the waste left by humans in the earth ’s activities, the environmental pollution caused by disposable plastics has attracted widespread attention worldwide, and strengthening the control of the consumption and use of disposable plastics is becoming a consensus and common action of the international community-
From "Plastic Limitation" to "Prohibition Plastics", move faster
Author: Deng Yixiang (China Environmental Science Research Institute researcher)
Wang Yanping (Wang Yanping is a graduate student of Shanghai Second Polytechnic University)
Zhang Chenglong, Professor, Shanghai Second Polytechnic University)
Disposable plastic pollution and the secondary pollution caused by microplastics (plastic fragments with a particle size of ≤ 5 mm) have attracted great attention from the international community in recent years. The theme of World Environment Day 2018 is the treatment of plastic pollution. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) calls on all countries in the world to work together to change the current international environmental governance pattern and jointly combat the problem of one-off plastic pollution. In March 2019, the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly passed the latest special resolution on "Marine Plastic Waste and Microplastics", which listed disposable plastic pollution as a key prevention and control area for the first time, encouraging countries to eliminate the environmental impact of microplastics from the perspective of the entire life cycle.
Restricted use of disposable plastics has become an international trend
In 2019, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum exhibited a "giant ring" composed of nearly 20,000 recycled plastic products, reminding people to reduce the generation and discard of plastic waste. Xinhua News Agency
In 2019, Kolkata, India, students and environmentalists wear plastic bags, calling on people to pay attention to plastic pollution. Xinhua News Agency
With the joint efforts of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), various environmental protection organizations and governments of all countries, as of July 2018, 127 countries have issued policies or action plans for the reduction of the use of disposable plastic bags, mainly including Taxation, voluntary agreements, comprehensive bans, etc. Among them, 27 countries restrict the market circulation of disposable plastic products in the form of laws, or introduce special restrictive regulations for specific products (such as tableware, straws, packaging) or materials.
On World Ocean Day 2015, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called on countries to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in personal toiletries and cosmetics. The United States, Japan, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other countries and regions began to respond and take corresponding measures. California, New York State, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, etc. have adopted the ban on the use of disposable plastic bags. In September 2016, France passed a new law requiring that 50% of the disposable plastic tableware materials such as dishes, cups and forks must be derived from biological materials and can be used for household compost degradation. The decree came into force in 2020. The European Commission also proposed to ban the use of 10 disposable plastic products such as cotton swabs and plastic straws, and the manufacturer should bear the cost of cleaning up the waste.
In Asia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and many other countries and regions have made attempts to ban or tax overuse of plastic bags. However, due to low economic development and unsustainable policies, the implementation is not ideal.
African countries are generally underdeveloped economies, but 34 of 55 countries (almost 62%) have issued relevant laws prohibiting the use or taxation of disposable plastic packaging bags. Rwanda banned the use of plastic bags as early as 2008; Kenya introduced a strict plastic bag restriction policy in 2017, and illegal organizations or individuals faced a fine or imprisonment of up to US $ 380,000; following the plastic bag restriction policy, Kenya A ban will be imposed on all disposable plastic products in designated "protected areas" before June 5, 2020.
China strengthens the treatment of disposable plastic pollution
On December 31, 2007, the General Office of the State Council issued the "Notice on Restricting the Use of Plastic Shopping Bags for Production and Sales" (also known as the "Plastics Restriction Order"), requiring nationwide prohibition on the production, sale, and use of plastic shopping with a thickness of less than 0.025 mm bag. Hainan Province took the lead in comprehensively prohibiting the production, sale and use of disposable non-degradable plastic products across the province, and promised to establish and improve local regulations and standards systems and improve the supervision and enforcement system by the end of 2019; by the end of 2025, The production, sale and use of plastic products listed in the "List of Disposable Non-degradable Plastic Products Prohibited for Production and Use in Hainan Province (Trial)" are comprehensively prohibited. The "Regulations of Shanghai Municipality on the Management of Domestic Waste" stipulate that from July 1, 2019, the use of disposable cups in office premises of party and government organs and public institutions shall be stopped, hotels shall not actively provide disposable daily necessities, and the catering industry shall not actively provide disposable tableware.
In January 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced the "Opinions on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Pollution", requiring that by the end of 2022, the consumption of disposable plastic products will be significantly reduced, and alternative products will be promoted.
Disposable plastics are widely used in daily life due to their cheapness and convenience, and gradually reducing or completely prohibiting them requires a long process. At present, China still lacks a clear and powerful management mechanism for reducing the use of plastics throughout the society: the replacement capabilities of alternative products (biodegradable plastics, photodegradable plastics, etc.) are not yet clear, and the cost is high, which is difficult to scale, resulting in China ’s The updating and improvement of product policies are seriously lagging; products containing plastic beads represented by personal care products do not have relevant regulations as reference in the production and sales links; economic measures to restrict the circulation of disposable plastics (taxation system) It has not yet been formulated. There is a lack of systematic research on issues such as the scope of taxation, the determination of taxpayers (producers or consumers), and the use of taxes.
The whole process management lays a solid foundation for "full ban on plastics"
The “Comprehensive Plastic Prohibition” helps promote a new pattern of harmonious development between man and nature and promote the construction of a beautiful China by advocating green consumption and focusing on the concept of green development. Although China has issued some policies and regulations for the management of one-off plastics, the relevant system measures still need to be further strengthened, and it needs to be improved from the source control, process use, resource recycling, etc., so as to lay a solid basis.
First, improve policies to reduce disposable plastics from the source.
It is recommended that disposable plastic films, bag products, and even disposable plastic products in the medical and construction industries be included in the scope of the "Plastics Limitation Order" to effectively strengthen the risk control of environmental microplastic pollution. Relevant departments need to formulate a list of disposable non-degradable plastic products that are prohibited from production, sale, and use as soon as possible, and regularly conduct environmental risk assessments on plastic products of high concern, continuously expand the list, and gradually realize from "plastic limit" to "partial plastic ban" , And finally implement a "full ban on plastics".
In the process of disposable plastic management, some economic tools, including the extended producer responsibility system, polluter pays principle, degradable plastic production subsidies or tax relief policies, can effectively internalize the external costs of disposable plastic waste. For example, in order to reduce the plastic packaging of beverages and take-away food, a deposit refund mechanism can be introduced to enhance consumers' awareness of recycling through an incentive mechanism and increase the secondary utilization rate of materials.
Substitution is also an effective option to reduce the consumption of disposable plastics. For environmentally friendly alternative materials and products, the state should give policy incentives, including tax reductions and exemptions, providing R & D funds and technology incubation, to promote related R & D activities and improve market competitiveness.
Secondly, it is used repeatedly to turn disposable plastics into multiple plastics.
In the use link, the reuse rate of disposable plastics should be increased as much as possible. Although traditional plastic bags are designed to be disposable, they have multiple uses. For example, a plastic tote bag after receiving goods can be used to collect household waste. The government can strengthen and improve the following work: encourage the development of durable courier boxes, establish a recycling-cleaning-reuse process, and replace the existing one-time courier packaging; Resource utilization rate; further increase the thickness of agricultural mulch film and improve aging resistance, thereby increasing the number of uses; for disposable plastics in the fields of construction, tourism, etc., it is also necessary to increase the reuse rate.
Third, turn waste into treasure, and strengthen the recycling and recycling of disposable plastics.
Producers of disposable plastic waste, including residents, enterprises and institutions, must bear the main responsibility for the recycling of the disposable plastic waste generated by themselves. At present, China's waste recycling work still relies heavily on manual sorting, and the employees in the recycling industry are scattered and disordered. Advanced separation equipment has been adopted internationally, and different materials can be sorted out systematically, but the one-time investment in equipment is high. China needs to increase investment in infrastructure construction for the recycling of disposable plastic products, focus on the reconstruction and rectification of the urban waste material recycling market, and encourage private capital to enter the solid waste disposal industry to ensure maximum environmental benefits and minimum waste.
In the end, through collective efforts, the whole society participates in the management of disposable plastics.
Reducing the use and pollution of disposable plastics is the common responsibility of the whole society, and the improvement of citizens' environmental awareness and joint participation are the basis for controlling the pollution of disposable plastics. Government departments and relevant social organizations should enhance public awareness of the environmental impact of disposable plastics through publicity and education, and form a green consumption concept, so as to take proactive actions to reduce the consumption of disposable plastics and supervise the problems in the management of disposable plastics .
"Guangming Daily" (April 25, 2020 version 05)
Source: Guangming Net-"Guangming Daily"