China biodegradable plastics ‘failing to solve pollution crisis’

A woman sorts plastic recycling in China. Millions of tonnes of plastics are wasted globally every year. (getty images)

A massive increase in biodegradable plastic production in China is outpacing the country’s ability to degrade the materials, according to a new report published by the charity Greenpeace.

China – the world’s largest producer of plastic waste – introduced bans earlier this year on several types of non-degradable single-use plastics, prompting manufacturers to ramp up production of biodegradable versions.

According to Greenpeace, 36 companies in China have planned or built new biodegradable plastic manufacturing facilities, adding production capacity of more than 4.4 million tonnes per year – a more than sevenfold increase in less than 12 months.

China’s e-commerce industry is on track to generate an estimated 5 million tonnes of biodegradable plastic waste per year by 2025, when the country’s single-use plastic bans come into effect nationwide, the charity said.

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