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Japan's plastic waste problem spurring grocery shopping novelty

54 Comments
By Takehiro Higashi

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54 Comments
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How about stop wrapping all produce in plastic to start? My banana doesn't need to be bagged.

43 ( +47 / -4 )

Since prices can now be determined by weight, "We can sell items that have been considered non-standard," said a Teraoka official.

Scales for measuring the weight of fruit and veg is nothing new. I hope they are serious about this. I'm fed having to buy pre packaged amounts that are eith too many, too few and/or half rotten.

22 ( +26 / -4 )

A novelty that has been in place forever overseas and certainly in Japan a long time ago

14 ( +27 / -13 )

a step in the right direction (decades after Europe and for all i know, elsewhere) but why does it have to be "a novelty"? just change the way things are done. oh, wait... that'd mean changing minds....

4 ( +19 / -15 )

Japanese shoppers are increasingly being given the opportunity to take reusable containers to buy food and other items by weight or volume to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they take home from the supermarket while cutting down on food wastage.

Consumers in Japan are faced with an overwhelming amount of plastic packaging when shopping at supermarkets as compared to other countries, leading certain companies and their loyal customers to make an environmentally-friendly change.

"Given the opportunity?" Let's get with the program! It's not the responsibility of the shopper/consumer! THe supermarkets should be taking the lead on reducing the plastic used, the consumer WILL adapt!

It's a pain in the arse having to dispose of all the plastic, when a reycylable or burnable bag will do the trick. I find myself more and more often, having the staff bag my products in one of those types of bags, and having them deal with disposing the tray and other plastics that are included in the packaging.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

we try to buy most of our vegetables from those unmanned vegetable stands. no plastic whatsoever. we bring our own bags.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

This is a step in the right direction. Now, only if they could sell products with less packaging and preferably, ones with biodegradable packaging, that'd be great. Since reusable shopping bags were invented, I've always used them and carried one everyday if I need to buy something. One thing I will say about single-use plastic bags though, I wish there was a durable multiple-use waterproof shopping bag where I can put wet goods like raw meat, frozen foods, etc. Paper bags, even waxed ones tend to break down minutes after getting soggy.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

A woman uses machinery maker Teraoka Seiko Co's artificial-intelligence-based measuring device in Fukuoka.

How does an AI scale differ from ordinary machinery ones widely available?

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Do candies and cookies need to be wrapped individually? Do potatoes, cucumbers, bananas, tomatoes and more need to be wrapped individually? Japan’s overuse of plastics comes from completely unnecessary use of plastic.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

About time lol the amount of plastic wasted in supermarkets and shops is un real. For everything you but they give you a plastic bag and if you say no i dont need they give you the look. And what the hell is an AI measure device everything has to have AI with it these days to make it look good haha

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Welcome to the modern world!

3 ( +11 / -8 )

People don’t realise that plastic takes 50-250 years to break down to nano-plastics which can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, when ingested through the food chain.

they also don’t realise that 20+% of imported Oil goes into the production of plastic products, funding war, pollution, climate change and global warming.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Good move in the right direction…..It would have been better as a first step to not package everything and give people plastic bags rather than charge people for them. But then the supermarkets couldn’t do that as they would be pocketing the cost.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

May years back plastics did NOT exist, wood, straw, & cloth wrappings were used to take groceries home, even cheese and meats were wrapped in white reusable cotton cloth. only liquids were bottled. The idea of wrapping every damn item only exists in Japan sadly but true, even an egg is wrapped these days.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

How does an AI scale differ from ordinary machinery ones widely available?

It can probably recognise what you're weighing

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many people misunderstand, but plastic waste in Japan is not so bad. Garbage separation and recycling are effective in Japan. Plastic packaging of fruits and vegetables is partly unavoidable in humid Japan. And without packaging, on the contrary, there would be a lot of food loss. Anyway, reduction in plastic waste is a good thing.

Plastic waste generated per capita (kg/year)

U.S.A.: 130, United Kingdom: 98, Germany: 81, Japan: 38, China: 15

https://www.nap.edu/resource/other/dels/plastics-in-the-ocean/

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

How about stop wrapping all produce in plastic to start? My banana doesn't need to be bagged.

And how do protect it from pests? In supermarkets in the west, they dont wrap the produce in plastic and you have insects all over the produce. It is disgusting buying produce in the west.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

But but but, “Japanese are so Eco”

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

I use one of the bags that fit inside a basket so as they scan the stuff they fill the bag/basket for me. Time efficient and logical. But a number of store feel that it's not their place to do it and complain in a passive way, even though they would be doing that anyway.... Unbelievable Donki is the worst.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And without packaging, on the contrary, there would be a lot of food loss.

I don't get this point... The bulk sales of food seems efficient and money-saving. Living alone I find "value-size", "family-size" packages too much (but for a regular family, they may be too little; buying more units of packages will produce more plastic waste, no?). I have to throw away unused foods when they get old and expired.

With scales, you can easily optimize purchase amounts and minimize wastes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'll use whatever form of packaging I want, be it plastic or whatever else I may find handy.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Nothing new at all. It’s what we did years and years ago. Hopefully we can stop waisting food and casa n buy those funny veggies. Might even be a boost to instagram as people take pics of their food. (God knows why) who really wants to see another cake.

and everyone must say Oishi.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Too many single-use plastics. We use a shopping trolley/cart.

With the covid still going, do items need to be wrapped in plastic?

Microplastics are now a greater concern also found in baby formula and mother's breast milk.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

since we live in countryside we buys most veggies and fruits from unmanned stands,bringing own bag so no issue about plastic.or buying from JA local sunday market.all fresh.natural.best.also eggs as well-free range ones.

finally Japan will do something abt plastic waste hope will take no ages to adapt to something new...as usual.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

A giant step forward for the glacier that is Japan…

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Legislation to ban or limit plastic packaging would be a massive help. Everything in Japan is over packaged and over wrapped. As for weighing your own produce, this is not new.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So they were waiting for the object detection tech to be capable of identifying fruits and vegetables to start using scales instead of selling by piece? It's quite simply not true. Check the self registers at supermarkets, they are often left unused. It is the people that want their fruits individually wrapped. They got used to it, now they won't change their habits unless otherwise forced by legistlation.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

education about personal habits are killing people, animals, ocean life and the environment might help attack this serious problem.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This might work for some "specialty store" mentioned in the article but not for a regular supermarket. The self-checkout lines in my local Aeon supermarket are often longer than the regular lines, and they only require that you scan a barcode. Imagine having people weighing their fruit and vegetables on top of that...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let the consumer choose freely.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

But but but, “Japanese are so Eco”

Surely that's Echo. But no worse than the smug Anglophone Echo Chamber we're so influenced by.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Always shocked by how much Japan is a stiffler for recycling and waste management but their products are packed in 12 layers of soon to be garbage. A box of cookies is - a box, the cookies wrapped in foil/plastic, then each individual cooking in plastic, THEN a plastic tray to hold a single dang cookie.

I stopped eating sweets just out of sheer annoyance

1 ( +7 / -6 )

This will be a great benefit to the local environment.. I doubt S. Korea will do this.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

When I was young , there still weren’t or later almost haven’t been any plastic packaging. Everything was sold as is, in all kind of paper, heavy glass bottles, carry nets or such and everyone had own textile or (some later in the chain but finally too) plastic fiber nets and bags to carry the shopping home. Admitted, that other extreme wasn’t so much better too, quite disgusting and not hygienic when thinking about how many other people through the whole day touched or checked the things before, when you reached the supermarket shelves after work late in the evening. So everything was washed more intensively or all the first slices generously thrown away etc. which again also would raise problems today if implemented, problems that nowadays have a name like wasting drinking water or food loss and such. I would say in general you have merits and demerits like before and one problem thought to be solved creates one or a few new other problems.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@letsberealistic

Do you have some links ? I can not find it. All article and data I found are based on previous year :

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/oecd-leading-countries-in-recycling.html

https://comparecamp.com/recycling-statistics/

Some other data about plastic pollution for people interested :

https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan's plastic waste pollution, have you been for a walk on a beach here lately? people don't seem to care, simply walk amongst the garbage.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

It's great that this is being done, but I'm unclear why it has taken so long. Also, in general, my local supermarkets are still wrapping individual pieces of fruit and vegetables. It's insane. I would be happy to take my own containers and reuse them. The idea of a piece of corn being encased in a sheath of air-tight plastic is insane. And the amount of trays, styrofoam, netting, extra bags... it has been this way since I came here 29 years ago. There are a few places where I can sense them cutting back on this stuff, but they need to go cold turkey. I don't need my goya wrapped in plastic. It's not going to make any difference when I wash it off and cut it up. I'm not buying jewelry; I'm buying food.

Japan, I love you, but you cut off your nose to spite your face with all the extra plastic nonsense. I'm glad some progress is being made, but it's taking way too long to implement it across the board.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Japan is super addicted to plastic wrappers. Cut with the 'novelty' reporting and start telling it as it is......a necessity for sustainability. Come on get serious.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

WHAT?! They dont weigh fruits and vegetables in Japan??????

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What kills me is when I buy a package of mini beef jerky and I open the bag and each individual piece is also wrapped in plastic. I'm like...what...

2 ( +5 / -3 )

South Korea is the leading recycling nation on the planet.

As someone who has lived in South Korea, where they flush garbage down the toilet and stack coffee cups on top of overflowing trash cans at bus stops, I burst out laughing at your comment.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

What ?? This has been the norm in many other countries for decades. They had to invent a new machine to do this? ?? Oh, Japan! (again).

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I feel so good whenever I am able to pick up some tomatoes unwrapped at my local grocery store, up until I get to the cashier who places them in a plastic bag when I go through to pay for them!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oh how good it would be if we had milk in glass recycled bottles, fresh veg served in paper bags, how about a returnable deposit on beer bottles? Like I remember in the UK 40 years ago..... what progress we've made

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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