Japan to Charge for Use of Plastic Bags

On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Japan has started to require all retailers in their country, including convenience stores, supermarkets, and drugstores, to charge a fee for the use of plastic shopping bags.

One of Tokyo, Japan’s news publication, Kyodo News Plus, stated that the initiative is aimed at encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags as Japan lags behind other countries in curbing the use of plastics.

As of the first day of June 2020, the top three convenience store operators in Japan, namely the 711 Japan Co., Lawson Inc., and FamilyMart Co., have already begun charging a fee of 3 yen ($0.03) or 5 yen a bag.

Bioplastic Bags are Excepted

However, there are still some exceptions. Biodegradable plastic bags and plastic bags that contain at least twenty-five percent (25%) of renewable plant-based materials are exempted from the regulation. No fee will be assessed for the use of such bags.

In line with this, a voluntary report published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Foreign Agricultural Service on June 30, 2020, stated that the “introduction of mandatory plastic bag fee creates opportunities for bioplastic.”

Thus, the demand for biomass-based plastic bags is expected to increase due to the exemption, as based on the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s report.

Retailers and Consumers

Although the aim of Japan’s program requirement is to reduce plastic waste to combat marine pollution, according to Kyodo News Plus, retailers are still divided whether to charge a fee or to give free environmentally friendly bags to their customers instead.

On the other hand, the consumers may also be reluctant to use the same shopping bag over again due to sanitary concerns, since there is still a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Kyodo News Plus said that consumers may even be “more willing to pay for store-provided ones.”

What are Your Thoughts About This

What are your thoughts about Japan’s approach aiming to reduce plastic consumption? Would you like to have the same regulation in our country? or even in Baguio City? Share it with us in the comment section below.

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USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Report

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

The Japan Times

Kyodo News Plus

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