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New problems in the implementation of the "plastic restriction order" need to be solved urgently
Release time:2023-02-16 17:42:16


The "Opinions on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Pollution" (hereinafter referred to as the "plastic restriction order"), known as the "strictest plastic restriction order in history", has achieved remarkable results in the past two years, but some new problems have also emerged. For example, a recent market survey organized by the Environmental Engineering Assessment Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment showed that the plastic restriction order was well implemented in large chain stores, but the vegetable market, market markets, roadside stalls, take-out restaurants, fruit stores and other places still use disposable plastic bags in large quantities.

These new problems need to be solved urgently.

Problems and challenges According to the investigation, the author summarizes the following problems in the implementation of the plastic restriction order.

First, the use of plastic products rebounded after the decline, and there was confusion such as abuse of disposable plastic bags. On the one hand, it is the result of natural selection in the market under the low cost of ordinary plastics. On the other hand, the supervision is not in place, and there is no production limit for enterprises producing disposable plastic, and there is no corresponding punishment measures for small traders to use and provide free disposable plastic bags.

Second, the definition of "degradable plastics" is unclear, resulting in new environmental problems. The plastic restriction order restricts and prohibits the use of "non-degradable plastic bags", but does not specify which biodegradable plastic bags should be used. According to the Definition, Classification, Marking and Degradation Performance Requirements of Degradable Plastics (GB/T 20197-2006), biodegradable plastics, thermo-oxidative degradable plastics, photodegradable plastics and compostable plastics are all "degradable" plastics, which can be degraded after being placed for a period of time under heat or light conditions in theory. In fact, the two degradation technologies of heat and light only decompose plastic into tiny particles, not really degrade. In the real sense, biodegradable plastics should be made of fully biodegradable materials. After soil burial, composting, freshwater degradation, marine degradation and other processes, they can be completely decomposed into water and carbon dioxide by microorganisms, without causing additional burden to the environment. Because the price of thermoplastics and photodegradable plastics is less than half of that of biodegradable plastics, "pseudo degradable plastics" are relatively common in the market at present.

The third is the improper recycling and disposal of waste plastics. If the real degradable plastic is collected and disposed improperly, it will also cause pollution problems. Biodegradable plastics need specific temperature and humidity to be degraded under industrial composting conditions that regulate the microbial population and oxygen consumption. However, currently, biodegradable plastics are rarely used in industrial composting. The reason is that there are few industrial composting plants in China. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, there were 142 domestic waste composting plants in 2019. In addition, garbage is improperly classified. Fully biodegradable plastic bags have the same nature as kitchen waste. They should be sent to the industrial composting plant with kitchen waste for composting treatment. However, at present, China's garbage classification generally classifies plastic bags as other garbage or recyclable garbage, and cannot be thrown into kitchen waste, resulting in the environmental protection effect of degradable plastic not showing.

Countermeasures and suggestions

To solve the above problems, the author believes that the use end, production end, recycling end and supervision end of plastic products should work together.

At the end of use, revise the standard, redefine degradable plastics, standardize the scope of degradable plastics, improve the standard system of degradable plastics products, and stop "pseudo degradable plastics" from the source. Formulate unified pricing standards, give preferential treatment and subsidies to the production and circulation of degradable plastic products in terms of interest rate and tax, and reduce the price of degradable plastic products. Strengthen the publicity and implementation of the plastic prohibition policy and the promotion of green consumption, guide the public to rational consumption and green consumption, use biodegradable plastics or other non-disposable plastic substitutes, and reduce the use of plastic products.

At the production end, actively promote green design of plastic products and promote plastic substitutes scientifically and steadily. Increase financial support, vigorously carry out research and development of fully degradable plastics, and reduce the production and disposal costs of degradable plastics. Build a unified and standardized degradable plastic production and processing market, strengthen the exit mechanism of disposable plastic market, and minimize the production of disposable plastic products.