CHINA - When it comes to bureaucracy anywhere in the world, it is often thought that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing – the bigger the bureaucracy, the bigger the hands, and the bigger the gulf between them and the more unfathomable the decision making process. So it stands to reason, that as the biggest bureaucracy in the world, China’s civil servants have limitless scope to dumbfound the general public.
Take for example the north eastern Chinese province of Jilin: it shares a border with North Korea up in the deep north where winters can be bitterly cold, snowbound and dark; after the autumn leaves fall, it can generally be quite depressing.
So in November 2014, in a move to beat the winter blue and lift the spirits of the 3.2 million residents of the provincial capital, Changchun, city officials errected thousands of metres of plastic sheeting gravure-printed with images of green shrubs to mask the bare leafless hedges that line the main streets.
Add a touch of colour and pretty things up a bit; at the time, officials said they would even consider installing plastic flowers if it works. All well and good - an interesting concept, though possibly flawed a bit down the line by the impact of severe weather turning the borders into tatty torn shredded plastic sheeting.
That was in November 2014. On 1st January 2015, Jilin Provincial Government became the first province in China to issue a total ban on plastic shopping bags, plastic cutlery and other foodservice items.
Now, it is not as though these regulations were imposed overnight: The Ordinance “Jilin ban on the production and sale of a one-off non-degradable plastic bags, plastic cutlery provisions “ was actually passed by the the Provincial Executive Committee on 7th February 2013, and was scheduled for implementation on 1st January this year. So it is not as though Changchun city officials could throw their hands up in dismay and claim “nobody told us!”
So what really happened? Stuart Hoggard examines the issue in the February issue of Packaging Business Insight Asia.
For the full story, subscribe to Packaging Business Insight Asia here.