Regulatory News

China Reinforces Governance of Plastic Pollution that Certain Plastic Products have been Restricted

Jan. 18 2021

On 19th January 2020, National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecological Environment have jointly published “Opinions regarding further reinforcing plastic pollution governance” (“opinion” hereafter). This opinion requested to build up and refine long-term management plan, the principal concept is managing plastic products from various dimensions in order to continuously govern plastic pollution from life-cycle perspective. It set up three strategic timelines to prohibit and restrict certain plastic products, end of 2020, 2022 and 2025.

Download Bulletin PDF files to view Table 1 and 2 which provides a list of regulated plastic products and timelines.

Various provinces and municipalities prepared relevant policies which share similar timeline, the pilot started in major cities from end of 2020, and then eventually expand at end of 2022, 2025 to reach prohibition or restriction in entire region. Some well-developed regions have set up more stringent requirements. For example, Shanghai has tighter requirements on prohibited plastic bags, earlier timeline for prohibition and restriction, and larger area of implementation.  Zhejiang province requests completing those targets two years prior national policy, and managing plastic pollution in rural area ahead of other regions. 

Just before the national opinion has been announced, Hainan province has enacted “Hainan economic zone provisions to prohibiting non-degradable single-use plastic products” (Hainan provision hereafter). It has larger scope and more detailed, and enforced from 1st January December 2020 within the entire province. Apart of plastic shopping bag, general purpose plastic bags, composite packaging bags made from paper and plastic, refuse sacks are also prohibited, the prohibition on tableware also covering both containers and caps.  
Since the Hainan provision entered into force, plastic bags, refuse sacks been placed on the market are now biodegradable products. Local authority requests those biodegradable products shall be labelled by registered QR code, therefore consumers and local authority can identify authenticity of biodegradable products quickly. Based on recent press release, Hainan administration of market regulation (AMR) conducted enforcement regarding sale prohibited plastic products. 1909 companies been inspected, 25 companies and individual persons will be further investigated for suspected violation, and involved 5240 CNY of product value in total. Additionally, 1 packaging material company in Hainan that producing PE bags was found false labelling as fully biodegradable, falsifying China environmental products labelling. The Hainan AMR proposed 1 million CNY penalty on this company based on Anti-unfair competition law. 

Additionally, Chinese domestic standards started to integrate biodegradability of plastic products in recent years, and more standard is under drafting and revision.  Those standards will eventually harmonise relevant definitions, requirements, and product labelling. Download Bulletin PDF files to view Figure 1 which shows labelling of biodegradable plastic bags purchased from shops.  

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