Environment

Japan’s plastic addiction begins to cost money

By Demofilo Pelaez

Tokyo, Jul 1 (efe-epa).- Disposable plastic bags the Japanese regularly use in their country’s stores began costing money as of Wednesday, in a radical turn in for a society addicted to them.

Even fruits and vegetables are often surrounded in these shops with various layers of plastic and are finally packed in a bag to carry up to a single unit, a habit that the Japanese government is now trying to change through this initiative.

The public measure requires retailers to pay a fee for distributing this material, from small convenience stores spread across the country to large supermarkets.

All three of the major convenience store chains, for example, have decided to charge customers between three and five yen for each bag, equivalent to just under three to five cents.

The chains Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson thus modify their distribution policy, while the Japanese executive wants to promote the free distribution of bags of reusable, biodegradable materials or made up of a considerable percentage of biomass.

Other retailers such as department stores or fast food chains have decided to change the distribution of plastic among their customers to that of bags made of paper or substitute materials derived from biomass.

PAY, REJECT, OR PROHIBIT The purpose of this measure is to reduce the contamination that these residues cause in ecosystems such as the marine one, although the bags only represent in Japan about 2% of the plastic waste in Japan.

Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi invited to think about “the problem of plastic waste” and to change to turn Japan into a society “in which it is common to reject bags” of this material, according to statements collected by the chain public NHK.

This initiative is part of a series of policies adopted by the Japanese government last year, after the Group of 20, which held its 2019 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, alerted strongly to this problem and its impact on oceans.

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