China Bans Plastic Bags, Sets Tougher Fuel Standards

China banned the production of thin plastic bags Tuesday and outlawed their use in supermarkets and shops beginning June 1.

The surprise move from China's cabinet is based on the belief that the country uses too many plastic bags without adequate recycling, Reuters reported. Chinese citizens use as many as 3 billion plastic bags a day.

"While providing convenience to consumers, they have also caused serious pollution, and waste of energy and resources, because of excessive use and inadequate recycling," a notice, posted on the government's website, said.

According to Reuters, the southern town of Shenzhen drafted regulations to ban plastic shopping bags in late 2007 but the move was met with opposition from retailers. The government signaled it may tweak the tax code to give the recycling industry a boost.

Worried about pollution, the government also has tightened its fuel standards to improve air quality in Beijing before the Olympics.

In addition to building new subway lines, Beijing retailers must sell gasoline that meets the Euro IV standard to help cut sulfur dioxide emissions. The higher cost of the fuel will not be passed onto consumers.

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