China's Hainan to ban single-use plastics by 2025: state media

The Haikou Century Bridge connecting Haidian Island and the main Haikou area is pictured in Haikou, Hainan district, China May 6, 2018. Picture taken May 6, 2018. China Daily via REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Chinese island province of Hainan will ban the production, sale and use of all single-use non-biodegradable plastics by 2025 in a bid to ease pollution, state media reported, citing the province’s environmental bureau.

Hainan is the first Chinese region to make a formal commitment to phase out single-use non-biodegradable plastics, which have been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.

The province uses about 120,000 tonnes of the material every year, according to government estimates.

The official China News Service reported late on Thursday Hainan would draw up new standards and establish a monitoring and enforcement system before the end of the year.

The province will begin by banning non-biodegradable plastic bags and eating utensils by the end of 2020 and ban the material completely before 2025, the report said.

Plastic pollution has emerged as one of China’s biggest environmental problems, with vast amounts of untreated plastic waste buried in landfills or dumped in rivers.

China is already boosting recycling rates and is building dozens of “comprehensive resource utilization” bases to ensure that more products are reused as part of its war on waste.

The government is also working on new measures aimed at restricting the use of plastic packaging by courier and food delivery firms, which have been the biggest cause of the surge in plastic waste in recent years.

China’s plastic recyclers traditionally processed waste imported from Europe and the United States but the government banned foreign scrap plastic deliveries at the start 2018, partly to encourage firms to process domestic waste instead.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait