ECNU experts on Shanghai's ban on single-use plastics


Shanghai has officially started a stricter ban on single-use plastic products following the implementation of the latest public opinions on plastic pollution control from January 1, 2021.

Starting January 1, all Shanghai stores, from pharmacies to shopping malls, will stop selling plastic bags or providing them free of charge. Food delivery services will also be banned from using non-degradable plastic bags, and restaurants will no longer serve food and drinks in plastic package or with plastic drinking straw. The ban does not cover package for freshly cooked food due to hygiene and food safety concerns.

What do experts at ECNU say about this?

1、Are degradable products environmentally safe?  (Source:CGTN)

Degradable plastics can be divided into photodegradable ones, thermal-oxidative degradable plastics and biodegradable ones. The biodegradable plastics are the most widely used and strongly advocated by the international community, said Chen Qiqing, a researcher at theState Key Laboratory of Estuarine & Coastal Research of ECNU.

Biodegradable plastics are composted into water, carbon dioxide and biomass by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, while non-biodegradable plastic productscan only be dissolved in certain conditions.

The standards for degradation vary, like from 60 percent to 90 percent. They need very harsh environment, like high temperature and low or high pH levels, to be degraded,said Chen.

During the degradation time, some additives will be released, such as some transition metals, pro-oxidants, or anti-oxidants, which are used to control the degradation rate. We're still in lack of relevant eco-toxicological risk assessment. We need to evaluate their environmental safety after they finally enter into ourenvironment, said Chen.

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2、The real problem is to discard plastic bags at will (

Restricting or banning disposable plastic bags is of environmental education significance. said Zhang Yong, Director of School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences of ECNU.

 In fact, if we sort out garbage well enough, all supermarket plastic bags will be turned into garbage bags after being used, and they will then be turned into dry garbage with high calorific value for incineration and power generation. This is also a very good recycling process, which can also solve the problem of plastic bag pollution, said Zhang.  

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3、China is no longer biggest sea plastic polluter (Source:Six Tone)

According to Li Daoji, a professor at the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine & Coastal Research of ECNU, China’s efforts have brought the country’s total sea plastic figure down to about 300,000 tons per year.

Li is bullish about further improvement, too. “We’re expecting to see a noticeable decrease in the level of mismanaged waste,” he said. “I’m very confident that we can have near-zero garbage emissions by 2030.”

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There are many ways to consume less plastic on ECNU campus. For example, use ECNU cotton bags for shopping, get yourself better at recycling, and eat in campus canteens instead of getting takeout or eating out. We encourage all ECNUers to be more conscious about plastic waste on campus. Together we can all make a difference in keeping a healthier Earth.

Let’s stop plastic pollution together!

Source: CGTN, Six Tone,

Editor: Yuan Yiwei


East China Normal University