China has unveiled ambitious plans to drastically reduce single-use plastics by 2025. China's National Development and Reform Commission is fast-tracking a number of measures designed to slash the production and use of plastics over the next five years. It announced that by the end of 2020, non-biodegradable plastic bags will be banned in supermarkets and shopping malls in major cities. The ban will also apply to food delivery services, which use vast amounts of the plastics. Single-use plastic straws and cutlery used by food takeaway services will be banned nationwide by the end of this year. China will encourage the use of alternative materials such as non-plastic products and biodegradable shopping bags.
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Single-use plastics are one of the world's biggest sources of plastic pollution. They have become a ubiquitous part of daily life and a part of our throwaway culture. The Chinese authorities set a goal of reducing the "intensity of consumption" in order to reverse our reliance on single-use plastics. Previous regulations to curb plastic use, in 2008, led to an estimated cut in plastic bag production of 67 billion bags. The United Nations said it is urgent that all countries adopt policies similar to those China is introducing. It said: "We are already unable to cope with the amount of plastic waste we generate, unless we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics."