The Chinese government announced an interesting edict on Tuesday.
Starting on June 1, supermarkets and stores will be banned from giving out free plastic bags and the production of ultra-thin plastic bags will end.
In a notice on the central government website, China uses too many plastic bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country.
The Chinese have a term called "white pollution", referring to the mostly white plastic bags that float around in the sky.
The government wants consumers to use cloth bags and baskets, or if they must, purchase a carrier bag from stores and supermarkets.
Apparently the Chinese use three billion plastic bags a day which equals to five million tonnes or 37 million barrels of crude oil to produce plastic packaging.
It's a drastic move that shows the government is concerned about the environment and also using its natural resources carefully.
And currently plastic bags are used recklessly. For example, at fruit and vegetable stands, people are encouraged to place a different item in a separate plastic bag so you end up with four or five small plastic bags that are then put in a large one.
The supermarket I shop at gives out relatively small plastic bags to bag your groceries so you are forced to use more than if they gave out bigger ones. They also plastic wrap many things that don't need so much packaging.
However, most people use plastic bags for garbage at home so many people are probably going to start hording their plastic bags from now until June.
At the same time I wonder what will happen to companies that manufacture plastic bags and the employees who earn their living there. They will have to change the nature of their business or get new jobs.
It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to this new regulation. In a country where environmental awareness is not very high, some people may be shocked by this new situation.
While it's a bit drastic, I hope the government will continue on this road and start pushing for other environmentally-friendly regulations. They can start with state-run canteens and telling them to stop giving away paper boxes and disposable chopsticks.
In the meantime I'm going to keep every plastic bag I've got. I'm going to need every single one of them.