Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 17:10 UK

In pictures: China plastic bag ban

Plastic bags fill a rubbish bin in Beijing, China

In China, a government policy banning shops from handing out free plastic bags has come into force. The move is aimed at cutting pollution and litter. (Text and images: Jennifer Pak)

A sign in a department store telling customers that plastic bags are no longer free

From now on, customers must now either pay for plastic bags for their shopping or bring their own bags from home.

One of the thick plastic bags that is not banned

Production of very thin plastic bags which are often discarded in the streets has also been banned, although thicker bags are permitted.

An employee at a Beijing computer store

At a Beijing computer store, an employee apologised to shoppers but said: "According to the country's new policy, we cannot give you plastic bags any more."

Zhang Yongming, with his cloth bag for groceries

Zhang Yongming, who brought a cloth bag to the shops, likes the policy. "They should have had a ban like this earlier. We didn't have plastic bags 20 years ago, so we used boxes and hand-knit bags."

Huang Yan, with his bicycle and his plastic bag

Huang Yan also brought his own plastic bag to the shops. "It's very good but it is a little bit inconvenient," he said.

Zhou Yongxin, fruit stand vendor

Fruit vendor Zhou Yongxin says customers who do not want to pay for bags just leave. But she supports the ban. "At least there isn't a pile of plastic bags piled in front of my store like there used to be."

Li Tongnian, collecting rubbish

Cleaner Li Tongnian says he has not seen a big change. "Of course [the ban] is a good thing. If there aren't as many plastic bags lying around, of course it makes our job as street cleaners easier."

Ms Tian woman holds up one of the new cloth bags

One shop has even started selling cloth bags as a fashion statement. Ms Tian, an employee, says that they are doing well.

Mrs Shi, holding up a plastic bag

But Mrs Shi thinks more action is needed to combat waste in general. "For example, I bought cosmetics yesterday with layers and layers of packaging. It's such a waste."

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