On February 26, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the “Decree 21” ordering that the disposable foam plastic dinnerware to be removed from the phase-out of products directory. “Decree No. 21” does not explain the reason of the removal.
Disposable plastic foam boxes will produce toxic substances at high temperatures. Moreover, recently the media reported that, after experimental verification, the common market PP disposable plastic lunch boxes will show softened thinning, physical distortions and even melting phenomenon when wine and vinegar is contained. This means that there will be more harmful substances dissolved in lunch boxes due to high temperature and containing of the particular foods.
Statistics show that over the past 10 years, Green Packaging Association under the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences and the Plastic Association in order to prove the availability of the disposable foam tableware had done a lot of market research, and reported back to the authorities several times. They also organised industry self-regulation, and urged to sign a guarantee on product quality and safety by enhancing recycling responsibility. Therefore the policy changes behind the “Decree 21” seem to have the interests of drivers as these two organisations had been working hard for unfreezing plastic dinnerware which was the major source of “white pollution” in the 1990s in stead of protecting the environment and the public interest.
While the harmfulness of the disposable foam plastic lunch box is widely accepted in the filed of science and among the public, there seems to be no reason that this 14-year ban can be simply removed and thus more explanations and media presses are anticipated.