China's free trade port, Hainan province, banned the use, sale and production of single-use disposable nonbiodegradable plastic products on December 1st. The initial list included disposable plastic bags, packaging bags, meal boxes, bowls, drink cups and straws made from non-biodegradable polymers.
Approximately 350 metric tons of biodegradable products have already been sold since the pilot program was announced in August. The annual production capacity of biodegradable bags and catering supplies is expected to reach 32,000 tons 11,000 tons respectively by the end of 2020. With 120,000 tons of single-use non-biodegradable plastic products being consumed annually in Hainan, manufacturers need more efforts ramping up production.
Good news is that investors have agreed to invest over $365 million in eight raw material projects for biodegradable plastic products, according to news reports from China Daily. The projects will create a complete supply chain from raw materials to finished products by around 2022 to 2023. At the national level, the National Development and Reform Commission have pledged to curb plastic pollution in major cities by 2025.
Now the question is: Do we have enough biodegradable material to replace petroleum-based polymers without hurting food security and forests? Or is it better to invest in recycling infrastructure?