In a notification published on August 28, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce outlined a set of upcoming restrictions on the use of plastics within the country. An overview article by law firm Keller and Heckman LLP clarifies that local authorities are expected to establish a central purchasing system for shopping bags used in grocery markets and encourage the catering industry to use alternative plastic products (such as biodegradable bags and straw boxes). Supervision of food delivery businesses should also be increased, and they should be encouraged to reduce consumption of single-use plastic products and promote alternatives that are reusable, degradable, and recyclable.

The ministry further outlined specifications and deadlines for implementing restrictions on a set of plastic products including non-degradable plastic bags, single-use plastic tableware, and single-use plastic products in the hospitality industry. This includes a ban on (i) non-degradable single-use tableware for dine-in settings in cities by the end of 2020, (ii) single-use plastic products used in the hospitality industry nationwide by the end of 2022, and (iii) non-degradable plastic bags in most commerce applications by the end of 2025.

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KH (September 11, 2020). “China Continues Efforts to Ban and Limit Use of Plastic Products.”

Ministry of Commerce (August 28, 2020). “Notice of the General Office of the Ministry of Commerce on Further Strengthening the Treatment of Plastic Pollution in the Commercial Field.” (in Chinese)

Keller and Heckman LLP (September 22, 2020). “China Trade Association Publishes Guidance on Classification and Labeling of Degradable Plastic Products.”

Zhejiang Plastics Industry Association (September 14, 2020). “Guidelines for Classification and Labeling of Degradable Plastic Products has been released.”