China will expand a ban on free shopping bags, state media said, as it tries to further curb its addiction to plastic in a bid to rid the country of "white pollution" that clogs waterways, farms and fields.
Bookstores and pharmacies nationwide will soon be forbidden to give out free plastic bags, joining the ranks of supermarkets that have had to charge for shopping bags since June 1, 2008, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
On that day, China also banned the production, sale and use of ultra-thin plastic bags, becoming one of only a few nations around the world to take such tough measures.
Quoting Zhao Jiarong, deputy secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, the report said the government would also step up its crackdown on the illegal use of plastic bags.
But she did not say when bookstores and pharmacies would have to start charging for the bags they give out.
China -- the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter -- has some of the world's worst water and air pollution after rapid growth over more than 30 years triggered widespread environmental damage.
Around three billion plastic bags were being used daily in China before the 2008 ban. Since then, according to the NDRC, people have used at least 24 billion fewer plastic bags every year, the report said late Saturday.
Dong Jinshi, vice chairman of the International Food Packaging Association in Beijing, told AFP late last year that as many as 100 billion plastic shopping bags may have been kept out of landfills as a result of the law.
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