Capital attempt to curb disposable plastics
ON TUESDAY, the top legislature of Beijing passed a regulation on daily disposable garbage, which will come into effect on May 1, 2020. According to the regulation, fast delivery companies, hotels, and restaurants will be forbidden from using disposable plastic boxes and bags.
It is common for people to use disposable plastic bags to wrap their breakfast on the way to office, get their meals delivered in plastic boxes, and put everything they buy from the supermarket in plastic bags.
According to a Xinhua report that quoted a garbage processing center, the amount of garbage the center has to deal with every day has grown by over 2,000 tons since last year, the main reason for that being the rapid increase in fast food deliveries.
A look at the data from food delivery companies is more shocking. Ele.me, Meituan and Baidu, the three giants of China's fast delivery food industry, receive about 60 million orders every day. If each order contains one plastic bag and two plastic boxes, the boxes placed end to end in a line would be 2,400 kilometers long, more than 6 times the distance between the Earth's surface and the International Space Station. The plastic bags laid out together would cover 1.2 million square meters, enough to cover 168 soccer fields.
However, the regulation might need more corresponding measures in order to be effective. According to its current version, the fast delivery companies, restaurants, and hotels might face a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 yuan ($1,422) if they violate the regulation. But what if their customers require them to use plastic containers and bags?
What if a customer writes, "Two disposable boxes, please" while ordering a fast delivery? What if a customer wants boxes and bags to take away any unfinished dishes at a restaurant?
In order to curb the use of plastics, it is necessary to change people's habits, too. For example, a bonus system could be introduced to reward those who avoid using disposable plastics for one month. With these new measures, combined with the ban, the use of disposable plastic containers and bags by restaurants, fast delivery companies, and hotels will hopefully be curbed.