China has taken swift action in enacting manufacturing standards for plastic shopping bags, laying ground for enforcing a ban of ultrathin bags and free, thicker shopping bags that takes effect June 1.
China's Standardization Administration published the public review draft of the standards Feb 4. Public feedback is due by March 4.
Under the draft standards, plastic shopping bags should be at least 0.025 millimeters thick and free of bubbles, perforations, and defects such as poor plasticization and rigid spots.
The standards require manufacturers to mark detailed product information prominently, either on the bag itself or on the packaging of bags for food use and other special cases.
The marking should indicate the type of bag - such as general use, degradable, starch based or food use. The standards define a starch-based bag as one that contains more than 15 percent starch. Both compostable and biodegradable bags are deemed degradable, the document said.
Also required on the label are the manufacturer's name, bag dimensions in millimeters, strength in kilograms; as well as what the bag is made of, including resins, fillers, plasticizers, reinforcing agents and other additives, all of which should be signified in English acronyms.
Bags that contain recycled content must list each recycled resin and its respective weight-based percentage. Bags for medical purposes or chemicals and pesticides cannot be reused.
The marking of food-use bags is particularly detailed in the draft standards. Manufacturers must mark bags that may have direct contact with food. These bags should reflect the color of the resin and contain no added pigments. Bags that could be mistaken for food use should be marked ``not for food.''
The standards also require bags to carry safety warnings, such as ``Keep away from infants and children to avoid suffocation'' and ``Please do not leave plastic shopping bags near cradles or cribs.'' They also require the bags to carry a slogan reminding consumers to reuse them for the sake of environmental protection and resource conservation.
With regard to inspection and testing, every production batch should be checked; for same-model bags that contain the same materials and are continuously produced, a batch should be no more than 5 metric tons, or about 11,000 pounds, according to the draft standards.
Maximum storage time should be determined by the bags' physical properties, with the expiration date no more than a year from production.