In the lead up to China’s plastic bag ban, which commenced on June 1, there were many reports about mixed feelings. For example, although most people agreed plastic bags are a problem for the environment, many weren’t so enthusiastic about being charged for plastic bags.
Well, if this article from Zhejiang Online is anything to go by, there’s still hope yet.
On the first day of the plastic bag ban, in Hangzhou, supermarkets and free markets both experienced a large decrease in the use of plastic bags. This resulted in a large increase of the sale of environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags. Mr. Yang Juanmei, marketing manager of Huarun Wanjia Supermarket, said sales of eco-friendly shopping bags increased by 200 percent. And at the Yeqingdou Free Market, sales of environmentally friendly shopping bags matched that of the previous 7 days.
Also keep in mind that many people bought their reusable shopping bags/baskets prior to June 1. According to estimates from supermarkets and free markets, more than 50 percent of customers brought their own reusable shopping bags or baskets.
Furthermore, it seems that the elderly were more likely to bring their own shopping bags. Mr. Shen Shuangquan, manager of Yeqingdou Free Market estimated that, in the morning of June 1, 90 percent of shoppers - most of who are elderly - brought their own bags! As the day progressed, many younger shoppers came and purchased plastic bags.
77% Decrease in Plastic Bags!
And most importantly, if my interpretation is correct, in Wanshouting Free Market, the number of plastic bags provided decreased by 77 percent. As many as 100,000 plastic bags were provided in the old days, but on June, this number was closer to 23,000 (3-4000 sold to customers and 20,000 sold to vendors for fresh food, deli, and bakeries).
In other markets, the plastic bag reduction was less pronounced, but still significant.
I know it’s still early days, and Hangzhou has a relatively small population (6.5 million), but if this trend continues around the nation, China’s plastic bag ban will play a major part in worldwide efforts to reduce our plastic bag consumption.