Petrotahlil - China has issued a five-year plan for controlling plastic pollution, aiming to tackle by 2025 the "white pollution" resulting from over-packaging and overuse of plastic products. Implementation of the plan is likely to reduce overall demand for polymers, affecting some downstream sectors of polyethylene (PE) in the long term.
The plan calls for reducing the amount of plastics produced and used, while promoting alternatives for plastics and standardizing disposals and recycling of plastic waste. It was jointly issued on 15 September by China's main economic planning agency the NDRC and the ecology and environment ministry.
Packaging and overuse
Disposable plastic products in retail, express deliveries, food packaging and other key sectors will be reduced in the next five years.
Secondary packaging of express deliveries will be halted, with recyclable express packaging increasing to around 10mn units. Reduced packaging will lead to diminished demand for PE and polypropylene (PP). Packaging for express deliveries are mainly high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and PP raffia. Food packaging is made from PP, polyethylene terephthalate and polycarbonate.
Shopping bags with a thickness of less than 0.025mm, mainly made from HDPE will be banned. Polyethylene (PE) agricultural film, linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and LDPE with a thickness of less than 0.01mm will also be prohibited. Chemical products containing plastic beads and other products that are potentially harmful to the environment and human health will be banned.
Alternative products such as bamboo and wood products, paper products and degradable plastic products will be promoted to reduce the use of plastics.
Quality and safety standards of related products will be developed. There will be comprehensive research, tests and evaluations on different degradation mechanisms and on their impact on the environment. The degradation conditions and disposal methods will be standardized, with the quality and performance of degradable plastics improved and costs reduced.
Disposal and recycling
Systems for sorting, collecting, transporting and processing household garbage will be set up in cities.
The incineration capacity of urban household waste will increase to about 800,000 t/d, with the amount of directly buried plastic waste in landfills significantly reduced.
Recycling of agricultural film will rise to 85pc, with zero growth rate of residual mulching film in the domestic market.
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