2020•07•03 Kyodo News
On 1 July 2020, Japan began an initiative of charging for plastic shopping bags, aimed at encouraging consumers to bring their own bags when out shopping, particularly at convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores and other retail outlets. After the United States, Japan generates the largest amount of plastic waste per capita and is a serious issue to be addressed in the country.
In a Kyodo News article UNU-IAS expert Evonne Yiu commented on this new mandatory charge, saying that “Compared to other countries, Japan has made a slow start in reducing plastic waste and struggles to get public support due to the lack of a clear, long-term vision” in terms of plastic waste reduction. “Consumers are not sufficiently aware about the overall waste situation in Japan and why the government is introducing a mandatory charging policy,” Dr Yiu said. “The focus seems to be more on purchasing of eco-friendly bags and other alternatives to plastic bags.” Dr Yiu emphasised that Japan should not limit its regulatory steps to plastic bags but should start debating reduction and reuse of other disposable plastic products, such as bento lunch boxes, straws, bottles and food packages.
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