Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chinese Updates: Will 'white pollution' reappear in China? (1 May 2013)

The undated photo shows the disposable foam plastic tableware sold in a store of Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province. [Photo:]

Will 'white pollution' reappear in China?

CRI, May 1, 2013

China is lifting a ban on the use of disposable foam plastic tableware (DFPT) on May 1, after forbidding the production and use of the products in the country for more than 14 years, reports.
The move has triggered public controversy over concerns that "white pollution" will reappear and the change will raise additional food safety issues. Environmentalists say that questions surrounding the safety of the use of foam plates and the damage it may cause to the environment remain a concern.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it was lifting the ban because the standard of DFPT met the national food-packaging standard, and the recycling system and common use of foam tableware in other countries justified its continued use. The NDRC also said using DFPT could conserve oil resources.
In 1999, the use of DFPT was banned after it caused heavy "white pollution" throughout China. The relative national authorities at that time pointed out that the production and use of DFPT could harm both the environment and people's health, and was a difficult material to dispose of.
In 2010, China Central Television reported that some companies producing DFPT had added harmful materials to their products, including industrial calcium carbonate, talcum powder and a fluorescent brightening agent banned for use in food packaging material. However, the NDRC said after an inspection it found that DFPT was in accordance with the national standard.
Peng Chao, Secretary General of the Fuzhou Plastic Association, said foam tableware would be safe and not release harmful or toxic substances when it was not heated.
In light of the controversy, experts said the government should establish a scientific regulation and mechanism to supervise the use and recycling of DFPT.
Even during the ban, the product was still available in China. In the final analysis, the public will decide how popular DFPT will be.

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