After being a destination for other countries’ waste until it tightened controls only a year ago , mainland China now plans to recycle or reduce single-use, non-degradable plastic across its consumer economy over the next five years. Regrettably Hong Kong lags in this respect, being one of a number of places that still ships waste to Southeast Asian countries for recycling and disposal. For more than two decades the mainland had been taking plastic, paper and metals from developed countries for processing or dumping, enabling them to make claims about recycling their own waste. The mainland now says it will cut the production and use of plastic in stages up to 2025 . This will significantly reduce one of the world’s biggest sources of a pollution threat to global wildlife, its habitat and humans. The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s economic planner, says that by the end of this year non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in places such as supermarkets and shopping malls in main cities, as well as by food delivery services. This will be followed by a large reduction in the use of disposable plastic in e-commerce, express deliveries and takeaway food by 2022, and the promotion of alternative materials. China unveils sweeping plan to reduce single-use plastic by 2025 The growth of online food delivery apps with their plastic bags, containers and utensils has added to the deluge of locally produced pollution, prompting the mainland to take initiatives to address it, including a mandatory recycling system that is being piloted in cities such as Shanghai. The commission has also foreshadowed a total ban on the import of plastic waste. The massive surge in plastic waste exports to Southeast Asian countries, which may not have the capacity and know-how to handle it, draws attention to the flaws in Hong Kong’s waste policy, with criticism that the recycling industry barely exists in more than name. Most municipal waste recovered for recycling is exported elsewhere. From this year the Basel Convention on the trade in and disposal of hazardous waste will require informed consent for the export of unrecyclable and contaminated plastic waste to neighbouring countries. This should spur the government to redouble its efforts to develop an effective domestic recycling industry.