Writing at TNR's reliably misinformed Environment & Energy Blog, Dayo Olopade lauds the Chinese government's ambitious program to eliminate plastic bags:
The move, which bans outright ultrathin plastic bags and puts a price on all others, is said to save China 37 billion barrels of oil annually.
That's a typo--the China Daily report actually reads:
Residents in the country use up to 3 billion plastic bags a day and the country has to refine 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil every year to make plastics used for packaging, according to a report on the website of China Trade News (www.chinatradenews.com.cn) .
Does all that oil go to plastic bags? Obviously not. Packaging here seems to include every piece of plastic in China, for domestic consumption, export, and otherwise. That's a lot of plastic. According to this report from ABC, the United States uses 12 million barrels of oil to produce ten times as many bags annually. Figure the Chinese are using one-tenth as much oil, 1.2 million barrels, in which case 37 billion barrels is off by a factor so big we can't even do the math. China's action on plastic bags is about as trivial as you would expect. But hey, they still have that super eco-friendly one-child policy!
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