Punishments for Chinese supermarkets that provide free plastic bags


China's Ministry of Commerce has drafted a rule on the use of paid plastic bags and is soliciting suggestions for the rule across the country.

As part of the rule, the Ministry of Commerce will punish supermarkets and shopping malls that provide free plastic bags to consumers after this rule is enacted on June 1, 2008.

The Ministry of Commerce's new rule asks that the price of plastic bags must not be lower than their cost and the retail sites must not give away any free plastic bags to consumers by any means - including offering discounts - or they will be fined up to RMB30,000 (approx. €2,800).

In addition, the rule says that retail sites should order plastic bags from manufacturers whose plastic bags meet the national standard and ask for a sales voucher from the manufacturers for any future check by the government supervision department.

The rule also states that retailers who use unqualified plastic bags will be issued a warning, ordered to destroy the bags or fined up to RMB30,000. The rule says that retailers must mark the price of the plastic bags on their sales voucher, but must not include the price of the bags as part of the goods purchased by the consumers. Violators of this will be fined up to RMB5,000 (approx. €450).

Regarding agricultural markets where the supervision is hard to monitor, the rule points out that all agricultural markets and commodity exchange markets must make a unified purchase and sales of plastic bags and mark their price in prominent places. In addition, they should keep a record of the plastic bag purchases for checking. The rule says those who don't follow this will be fined up to RMB20,000 (approx. €1,800).

The plastic bags mentioned in the rule mainly refer to those provided by retailers to consumers to hold their goods and don't cover those plastic packages for fresh and raw food, cooked food and noodles. The retailers in the rule refer to the retailing shops, supermarkets and commodity exchange markets.