BizBeat Ep. 9: Plastic ban is about banning as well as providing
By Zheng Junfeng
As we wave goodbye to 2020, people in China are bidding farewell to single-use plastic straws. Chinese people love drinking milk tea, and this long and wide straw would help with the movement of the "pearls" from the bottom of the cup to one's mouth. There are also takeaway coffee, porridge, milk and juice that all use straws.
The country consumes 46 billion plastic straws a year, 30 for every person, and 30,000 tonnes in total weight. The plastic takes 500 years to degrade. Thankfully, these straws have already disappeared from McDonald's and Starbucks.
Banning plastic straws is the first phase of an ambitious five-year plan, whereby China will ban or significantly reduce all single-use non-degradable plastic products by 2025. That includes bags, straws, cups, culinary, and parcel packaging.
Banning is a good start. But providing other choices is also essential. Alternative materials are now expensive.
A degradable straw is three to four times more expensive than a non-degradable one. And supply is not enough because factories don't have the money to alter their production lines. That's why we still see single-use straws in small shops and roadside booths.
By supporting factories with funds and technology, expanding supply and reducing prices, environmentally friendly products can become economically friendly to vendors and consumers. Let's guide everyone to love protecting the environment.