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Plastic Straws and Single-Use Bags Vanish From China as Ban Kicks In

In China, 2020 was bid farewell with a flurry of fireworks and the scraping of 200 million metric tons of plastic straws from the nation’s pollution inventory.

the early ban goes into effect first with two items, plastic straws and single-use shopping bags, with other single-use plastics following. They are one of less than 10 nations to completely ban plastic straws.

The ban was Announced in the Party’s new Five-Year Plan in January 2020, and aims to reduce plastic pollution while moving forward to integrate biodegradable alternatives, starting with plastic straws.

But there’s something unique that makes China’s ban on plastic straws more shocking than other countries, and it’s not the fact that they’re the most populous nation.

It is that the paper straws and polylactic acid compound will replace the plastic ones in the favorite drink of the people: tapioca pearl tea, also known as milk or bubble tea.

Chinese consumers love bubbles and milk tea. These treats, which often replace western morning coffee, are drunk with larger, thicker plastic straws than we would recognize at McDonald’s, as they must be able to accommodate the movement of the tapioca pudding “bubbles.”

In 2018, a estimated 500,000 chains sold bubble tea in China, and the market for take-out drinks in the country increased 9.3% in 2020 to $ 80 billion.

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Milk tea chains like Nayuki in Shanghai have already been using paper straws for most of the year in anticipation of the first phase of the plastic ban that will begin in 2021.

Supermarkets like Careful and RT Mart are also tightening the tax belt as single-use plastic bags are also banned, with replacements in the form of biodegradable bags, cost-effective baskets, or reusable shopping bags that take the shape of those. main alternatives.

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A Chinese news agency reports that while the prices of biodegradable alternatives to straws and bags are more expensive, the ban has caused the market share of bioplastics to skyrocket to the expected $ 7.3 billion in 2025, and further double to $ 13.9 billion by 2030, suggesting that the cost will decline rapidly as more entrepreneurs enter the market with new technologies.

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