By Xinhua writer Wu Qi
BEIJING, July 2 (Xinhua) -- With her grandson in tow, granny Zhao Hanlian
set out to a nearby farm produce fair. Then she remembered that she had
forgotten something and hurried back gasping to her fourth-storey home -- not
her glasses nor money, but a cloth bag.
Over the past month, the 65-year-old housewife in central China's Henan
Province has made sure that she carries a cloth bag whenever she goes shopping.
"Here are your yams," said a peddler nimbly loading six of them into granny
Zhao's cloth bag in the downtown market at Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan.
For the past month, peddlers on the market have not supplied free plastic bags
because of a new decree in China.
Leaving the farm produce fair, granny Zhao turned off to a nearby chemist's
for some cough medicine for her grandson. A salesgirl put the medicines in a
paper bag -- no free plastic bag either.
"It is really inconvenient if I forget to bring a bag with me," said Zhao,
who has enjoyed the convenience of free plastic shopping bags for more than a
From June 1, all Chinese retailers, including supermarkets, department
stores and grocery shops, have been banned from providing free plastic shopping
bags because of their damage to the environment. China has also banned the
production of ultra-thin plastic bags, thinner than 0.025 millimeters.
"It doesn't matter how much a plastic shopping bag costs. What matters is
our sense of environmental protection," Zhao said.
Changing people's habit has proved effective, particularly in large cities,
where customers often carry their own bags when shopping.
Large supermarkets in Zhengzhou have reduced the use of plastic bags by 80
percent, said Jian Hui, the Erqi outlet of Beijing Hualian supermarket group in
According to an estimate from the National Development and Reform
Commission, the country's top economic planner, every two people would consume
at least one plastic bag per day before June 1. At least 1,300 tonnes of oil
must be consumed every day to produce enough plastic shopping bags to satisfy
"Plastic bags are difficult to degrade," said Men Xiaowei, an official with the Ministry of Commerce. "The plastic waste accounted for more than 3 percent to 5 percent of the daily waste,most of which came from plastic bags."