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Chinese retailers to be fined for giving free plastic bags

BEIJING, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Chinese government announced on Friday that the national ban on shops giving out free plastic bags to customers will be enforced with hefty fines as of June 1, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Shops and supermarkets will be fined up to 10,000 yuan (about $1,400) for giving out free plastic bags, in line with the ban imposed in January, aimed at curbing the huge litter problem generated by non-biodegradable bags, which accumulate in landfills and are rarely recycled.

Under the regulations, retailers will have to charge "market prices" for their plastic bags, the agency reported.

Several Chinese retail chains have already begun providing their customers with paper bags.

In January, China launched a crackdown on plastic bags, and banned the production of ultra-thin bags. Several weeks after the news was announced, China's largest plastic bag maker, Suiping Huaqiang Plastic Co, which produced 250,000 tons of plastic bags annually, was closed down.

According to official statistics, China, now officially world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter, uses up to 3 billion plastic bags a day.

Several European countries have also launched campaigns to discourage the use of plastic bags, a by-product of the petrochemicals industry.

Plastic bags have been banned altogether in Bangladesh, where they had caused severe problems by clogging up drains during the monsoon season.

Major retailers in France and Germany now charge for plastic bags, and compulsory charges have been imposed in countries around the world including Ireland and Israel.

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