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Recycling in the fast lane

FAST lanes at supermarket checkouts and prizes are two of the plans being considered by the Shanghai Commerce Authority to encourage shoppers to use recyclable bags.

The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce is considering moves to enhance the use of eco-friendly shopping bags, the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the city's top advisory body said today.

The commerce commission said policies may include creating special lanes at supermarket checkouts for customers using recyclable bags instead of plastic ones. Because only a few shoppers use recyclable bags at present, special lanes could save them a great deal of time.

Other incentives under discussion include offering gifts to those using recyclable bags and exchanging new bags for old bags for free, the commerce commission told the Shanghai Committee of the CPPCC in response to a proposal by a committee member.

The commission has not announced a timetable for the campaign.

The committee member Wu Fanhong urged in a proposal submitted earlier this year that the government should expand the use of paper bags at shops because just putting a price of plastic bags chargeable was too weak to curb "white pollution."

"Somehow the government should make an investment in promoting paper bags at stores and offer them at a discount or free of charge to shoppers," Wu told Shanghai Daily today.

He criticized the fact that obviously low-standard plastic bags are still widely used at wet markets.

"These thin and poor-quality plastic bags, are offered free to wet market shoppers and can be harmful to health," said Wu, the general manager of a local pharmaceutical company.

Wu said it was necessary that paper bags be introduced to stores and markets by the government as a supplementary measure to reduce white pollution.

Many people still buy plastic bags to carry their goods from supermarkets because it was inconvenient for them to bring along a shopping bag, Wu said. He stressed the fact that charging for plastic bags was not enough to effectively curb their use.

Wu also urged the government to restrict the production of plastic bags to downsize the origin of "white-pollution" products.

"Compared to controlling consumption, it is more crucial for authorities to restrict the production of plastic bags in order to realize the goal," Wu said.

He also called on local government to collect the revenue businesses have earned from selling plastic bags to set up a fund to support research into the degrading of plastic.

"The money is charged in the name of reducing white pollution. We have every reason to require that it be used to find better technology to degrade plastic bags," Wu said.


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