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Ban on free plastic bags takes effect
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Retailers who did not list shopping bags on the receipts or continued to provide free plastic shopping bags would be fined from 5,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said.

In addition, the administration would conduct a special campaign as of June 1 over plastic shopping bag providers. "Department stores, supermarkets, grocery stores and plastic bag retailers would be our emphasis during the campaign," the SAIC said.

Forming new shopping habits

The regulation, aimed at reducing the one-time use of plastic bags, would help to curb the "white pollution" and conserve resources.

But it may not be easy for all Chinese to quit this convenient way of shopping and return to using their own shopping bags and baskets, or in buying them from shopkeepers in the short term.

"I forgot to bring a bag with me when I left for shopping this morning," a woman surnamed Jiao said while paying for her groceries, and subsequently her plastic bags, at a Beijing grocery store.

Other people preferred holding items in their hands rather than buying bags.

Dong Jinshi, an expert with the country's Plastics Association, said the purpose of the ban was not for charging fees, but instead promoting "green" consumption among people and encouraging them to protect the environment in their daily lives.

"People have been accustomed to using shopping bags since the 1980s when shopkeepers began to hand out free ones," said Liu Cong, a resident of the scenic city of Guiling, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. "So it's unrealistic to make them change their habits in a short period."

The public needs time to thoroughly understand the significance of the law and voluntarily abide by it, he added.

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