It seems that plastic shopping bags are really on the way out. It started with San Francisco, Hong Kong, then Melbourne and other cities, and now, beginning in July, all plastic shopping bags in the entire country of China will no longer be free. As part of China’s attempts to reduce their extreme pollution problem, the policy will call for a small charge for plastic bags in China that must be shown clearly in all supermarket receipts.

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Photo courtesy of NY Times

Furthermore, ultra-thin plastic bags are now banned from being produced at all. As part of this effort, the government is encouraging the use of reusable bags and cloth sacks, and increasing efforts to recycle all plastic bags still in use. Our country consumes a huge amount of plastic shopping bags each year,” said the State Council, China’s cabinet. “While plastic shopping bags provide convenience to consumers, this has caused a serious waste of energy and resources and environmental pollution because of excessive usage, inadequate recycling and other reasons.” 2008 is already shaping up to be an interesting year. No sooner does Israel announce plans to impose a charge to all plastic bags, but now China is doing it as well. So, who’s next?