The move to charge for plastic bags brings Japan in line with many other countries that have already adopted the environmentally friendly measure Photo: AFP
national

Japanese retailers to be required to charge for plastic bags from summer 2020

56 Comments
By Martin BUREAU

Japanese retailers including supermarkets and convenience stores will be required to charge for plastic bags from next summer, a government panel agreed Friday.

The move brings Japan in line with many other countries that have already adopted the environmentally friendly measure, but it will only come into effect in July 2020.

There will be no set price for a bag, with each retailer able to decide how much to charge.

The government will try to "ingrain the habit among consumers of bringing bags" and help them understand the move as "a step towards transforming their lifestyle", according to documents on the plan.

It comes after the G20 major economies agreed in June a deal to reduce marine plastic waste at a meeting in the host nation Japan.

Campaigners have criticized Japan for moving too slowly on reducing plastic consumption -- particularly as it produces more plastic packaging waste per capita than any nation apart from the United States, according to the U.N.

Japan touts an enviable waste-management system, and the government says that 86 percent of its plastic waste is recycled.

But much of that "recycling" involves simply incinerating plastic, often to produce energy -- a process that generates carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.

Japan exports around 10 percent of its plastic waste for recycling overseas. But research by environmentalists shows the waste can end up in the ocean or emit harmful pollutants when burned improperly.

In 2018, Japan's government unveiled a proposal to tackle plastic waste, with the goal of reducing the 9.4 million tons produced by the country each year by a quarter by 2030.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

56 Comments
Login to comment

Good about time

12 ( +19 / -7 )

Good news. It is all retailers or just food?

Japan touts an enviable waste-management system, and the government says that 86 percent of its plastic waste is recycled.

"Recycling" of plastic in Japan can mean "burnt, with some heat recovered". It doesn't necessarily mean "turned into other plastic".

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Japan touts an enviable waste-management system, and the government says that 86 percent of its plastic waste is recycled.

But much of that "recycling" involves simply incinerating plastic, often to produce energy -- a process that generates carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.

It’s quite funny how these two paragraphs totally contradict each other and show, yet again, how Japan fiddles statistics for boasting rights. It’s also funny how they fail to mention what percentage is incinerated. Incinerating plastic is not recycling it.

Japan has a serious problem with the overuse of plastics. A bag of candies, chocolates or cookies is a good example with every one individually wrapped in plastic inside a plastic bag. Then, go into the to fruit and veges section of the supermarket to find potatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers and many more all wrapped in individual plastic bags, which I find absolutely absurd.

it’s also interesting how convenience stores will start charging for plastic bags. The robots in the stores are trained to put every purchase in a plastic bag. You buy a pack of breathe mints and they automatically put them in a plastic bag.

Single use plastic shopping bags are only a small part of a much bigger problem of plastic addiction and overuse of plastics in Japan. Most supermarkets and many other stores already charge for plastic bags. While it may seem like a step in the right direction it is only a very small and somewhat insignificant step.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

They already have it, most supermarkets will give you 4 yen off if you bring your own bags

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Aeon's been charging for bags for awhile now.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Old news.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

It is not the one plastic bag at the checkout that is the problem, it is the extreme amount of plastic packaging everything else comes in.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

They already have it, most supermarkets will give you 4 yen off if you bring your own bags

Psychologically it is actually completely different. Offer someone a discount if they bring some bags then not many do. Charge them extra, and then they will all being their own bags.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Japanese retailers to charge for plastic bags from 2020

but it will only come into effect in July 2020.

Then shouldn't the headline read

Japanese retailers to charge for plastic bags from July 2020?

because when I first read it I thought that charge would come into effect in 2 months.

The move brings Japan in line with many other countries that have already adopted the environmentally friendly measure,

Now if only Japan could do the same with smoking..

7 ( +9 / -2 )

While it may seem like a step in the right direction it is only a very small and somewhat insignificant step.

@Do the hustle - off it is insignificant, how many single use plastic bags do you think Japan gets through a year?

Let's say it is just one a week for everyone in the country - probably a massive under estimation - that is 6.8bn a year. Is that really "insignificant"?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There will be no set price for a bag, with each retailer able to decide how much to charge.

So in other words another toothless law that will have minimal impact, yet allow the govenment to say they are taking action.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I am very glad this applies to conbinis as well, they are the worst offender. Supermarkets mostly already charge for bags, but the clerks at convenience stores just automatically throw even the smallest purchase into a bag before you can tell them “No!”

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I'm a "my bag" type - I only gather enough plastic bags to deal with household garbage. But I agree with Do the Hustle: packaging is the biggest problem. Shop at your local greengrocer: not only do they use less plastic, you're supporting the local economy.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

We should ban single use plastic feminine menstrual products. A silicon menstrual cup costs $40 and lasts for 10 years. But I want a sterile plastic bag when I go shopping to avoid the spread of O157 e-coli. Sterilizing reusable bags requires more energy than using a plastic bag and sending it to the incinerator to produce electricity.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The over-blown focus on plastic bags and straws over the ridiculous amounts of single use plastic being used, thrown away, and burned is a testament to human stupidity and gullibility. Its like taking a cough suppressant, feeling better, and immediately declaring yourself cured of colds....forever.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The over-blown focus on plastic bags and straws over the ridiculous amounts of single use plastic being used, thrown away, and burned is a testament to human stupidity and gullibility. Its like taking a cough suppressant, feeling better, and immediately declaring yourself cured of colds....forever.

Ever since Canada announced they would ban single-use plastics, I've noticed just how many of these I use, in ways I didn't realize. For example, the cases on my disposable contact lenses, as well as the contact lenses themselves (one-days). I applaud the move, and I think we need to move towards it as a planet, but just as the discovery of plastic made for extreme convenience, so are we going to have to accept a little less of that convenience for the sake of using less plastics.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

But much of that "recycling" involves simply incinerating plastic, often to produce energy -- a process that generates carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.

Until you have solid, irrefutable proof, stop fobbing this off on the general public.

10% consumer tax, plus we are taxed by the city, which includes garbage removal,

but yet we are forced to pay for the plastic bags to take it away.

Now, we are forced to pay for plastic bags for purchases.

I uses a cloth bag, but I resent all this money grubbing, when there is no outright

reason for it, other than squeezing money.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

blue in green,

I’m sorry,

I don’t

quite understand

your point.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

How is this even news?

Retailers have been charging for bags for years already!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Do the hustle - While it may seem like a step in the right direction it is only a very small and somewhat insignificant step.

@Ah_so - ff it is insignificant, how many single use plastic bags do you think Japan gets through a year?

Let's say it is just one a week for everyone in the country - probably a massive under estimation - that is 6.8bn a year. Is that really "insignificant"?

It is insignificant by comparison to the rest of the wasteful single use plastics packaging like, individually wrapped potatoes, bags of candies individually wrapped and many more wasteful plastic practices.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Confused as I'm being charged already or did I jump out of time in the future again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

2020......2020........ just do it today!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

rgcivilian1Today  11:38 am JST

“Confused as I'm being charged already or did I jump out of time in the future again.”

Confused as to why you’re confused. Many retailers (mainly supermarkets) have been charging for bags, some for many years already. Now they will all be required to charge by law. As the article says.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

fwiw, I agree with charging for bags to discourage their use, but also agree that it is eco tokenism. There are much bigger problems that get less attention.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

How is this even news?

Retailers have been charging for bags for years already!

They've been using the environment as an excuse to charge us. Now it will be the law to charge us.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

A single strawberry wrapped in 5 pieces of plastic. Hmmmm…

5 ( +6 / -1 )

and no more plastic for wet umbrellas !!!!

this is the worst

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I have no issues with plastic at all. I have issues with the slobs that blatantly take out their goods while walking, toss the bag on the ground and proceed to unpeel every single item in their original bag and toss it all on the ground. You should walk along the roads along the railroad tracks from Tsuruma to Yamato station on the odakyu line. Beautiful forests all trashed with garbage...and I mean garbage. Unbelievable. I confront old to young daily on my walks asking them to pick up the stuff they eagerly toss on the ground. Most get very angry at me for telling them to pick it up. I often get a chest into mine and the yaroo stuff. Shameful.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

. The

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Even paper bags have to be banned. Those sad trees.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

You cannot recycle domestic plastic. The plastic bag charge is good, but the overpackaging of items really needs to be addressed.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How much will it cost to park a dioxin-emitting automobile in front of the store?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They did something like that in Chile last year.

There were many unintended consequences, especially for very poor people who reused the plastic bags for many different uses.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Very good, this is the beginning..

Single use plastic shopping bags are only a small part of a much bigger problem of plastic addiction and overuse of plastics in Japan. Most supermarkets and many other stores already charge for plastic bags. While it may seem like a step in the right direction it is only a very small and somewhat insignificant step.

You complain for everything, loooooooool..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Umm, it’s fine to do this, but most people just accept the extra cost and continue to do whatever they have been doing. If you are on a bike on a rainy day, you will protect your purchases in plastic of some kind.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

We will presumably need to still put household waste into plastic bags to leave outside.... so unless that's fixed, plastic bags will continue to rule...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Umm, it’s fine to do this, but most people just accept the extra cost and continue to do whatever they have been doing. If you are on a bike on a rainy day, you will protect your purchases in plastic of some kind.

Umm, no one is stopping you re-using plastic bags.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Other countries seem to manage without plastic bags plastic straws etc etc. As usual I doubt this rule has really been thought through properly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thinking is very difficult for some people. Charge and sales drop, so not charge.....................problem too

funny.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I agree with this. This overuse of plastic wrapping in Japan is astonishing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Finally!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ Farmboy

 If you are on a bike on a rainy day, you will protect your purchases in plastic of some kind.

Tell me one article that is not already wrapped in 5 plastic layers from the shop (exaggerating a bit).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why don't they just ban plastic packaging, outright?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Just in time for the Olympics. Cynics R Us suspects optics minus real change.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Brings back memories of one of my favorite experiences in Japan. Ojiisan didnt get a bag for his cigarettes, so he got angry at the conbini staff. Finally gets a bag. Leaves the shop. Puts the bag ln the trash outside. Principals

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Principles

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"environmentally friendly measure

There will be no set price for a bag, with each retailer able to decide how much to charge."

People do not want you asking nothing you have to preserve yourself from any kind of idea that you are asking something. It will be all even worse. You will every where read only one kind of meaning

"selfservice". In such a situation any kind of old bag that you can bring for years somewhere you can not live without. Every morning it must come in mind at first.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Cutting back on overwrapping would have more positive impact than a charge for plastic bags. People at stores that charge for bags see very little decrease in plastic bag use, though perhaps it has a positive effect on environmental awareness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The over-blown focus on plastic bags and straws over the ridiculous amounts of single use plastic being used, thrown away, and burned is a testament to human stupidity and gullibility. Its like taking a cough suppressant, feeling better, and immediately declaring yourself cured of colds....forever.

I don't hear anybody claiming the the elimination of plastic bags will cure us of the problem forever. Where do you get that?

And it's not comparable at all to a cough suppressant, which treats the symptoms and not the disease.

This is a good start. It directly addresses the problem and helps to alleviate it. At the same time, it increases awareness that we need to deal with plastics in general. And moreover, it is workable. What would you suggest, a blanket ban on all single use plastics, effective immediately? Good luck with that.

It's a good first step. Much more needs to be done. Single use plastics need to be phased out. At the same time, we need to address the problems of developing regions of the world with no waste collection systems at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Finally another rich North country is getting in line with the norm, already in the "South" countries. South countries recognized the how plastic bags add to the problems of hazardous waste, air pollution, and endangered species. It costs a lot to get rid of plastic bags as garbage which is paid by taxes.

Interesting article:

Jennifer Clapp & Linda Swanston (2009) Doing away with plastic shopping bags: international patterns of norm emergence and policy implementation, Environmental Politics, 18:3, 315-332,

DOI: 10.1080/09644010902823717

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like a good hustle; there are "legit" hustles in Japan. They span from from reikin, shakkin, to charging to throw away any appliances that you can go later and find in a warehouse, for sale. So they collect a tax to throw it away, then recover another fee when they sell it.

Now they are charging 5 yen per bag...wonder where that 5 yen x thousands of people is going?

Not getting any 5 yen from me, stash my stuff in my bad, I hate plastic trash anyhow.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why don't they just ban plastic packaging, outright?

Because Taro and Yuko are so used to having their stuff bagged, and to carry home in, that its a difficult habit to change. Remember Japan is a culture of spend and classes. Their priorities come first.

This change will supposedly steer them to do it, but I suspect most will just pay the 5 yen.

I just bag it in my pack or carry it. I hate any kind of wrapping or bags.

All of these holywood elites, if they are real about global change, should bring a thermos bottle to the market and ask to put their drink in it.

Someday this may become the norm. Packaging does contribute to global pollution on a massive scale.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So for Stores that are already charging for Plastic bags will this be an additional tax ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So for Stores that are already charging for Plastic bags will this be an additional tax ?

No, because it isn't a tax. Charging for plastic bags is charging for plastic bags.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

so we now pay to destroy the environment. Cut our plastic altogether if you want to make a difference, not charge. Absolutely ridiculous and worthless

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Our local Whole Foods (pretentious health food store in the US) gives a 10-cent discount for bringing your own bags.

The disapproving looks I get when I bring in my plastic Walmart bags to reuse for my groceries there are priceless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites