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Ban on free plastic bags takes effect
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"People's sense of environment protection has been growing, but taking action on the direction is another thing," said Zhang Boju, a researcher with Friends of Nature, a non-governmental organization.

Only 20 percent of those surveyed who agreed with environment protection initiatives took actions in their daily lives, Liu said, citing a poll his organization conducted.

Another survey conducted by the Social Survey Institute of China on 1,000 people in 10 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, showed 69.2 percent held the rule would have only limited impact on environmental protection as many would still use plastic bags despite having to pay for them.

Experts said in adjusting to the new rule there would be "intermittent pains" for some people. "If customers could change their habit of using plastic bags and pick up baskets again, the environment could be greatly improved."

They said retailers could sell shopping bags at a higher price, so to make customers shift from "passively receiving the rule to actively refusing plastic bags."

Violations remain

In Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, a middle-aged woman said she just bought some tomatoes at an open market where thin plastic bags were still available. Vendors there still handed out free bags for fear that the additional cost would drive customers away.

Some owners of roadside stores in the area said the new regulation seemed only mandatory in big supermarkets and no one paid serious attention to them.

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