So far, most stores in Japan, including convenience stores, department stores, and grocery stores, provide customers with free plastic bags. However, there are inevitable problems caused by plastic bags, such as marine pollution, which was one of the main topics discussed over at the G20 summit in Osaka in 2019. From July 1, 2020, the new system led by the government will start, in which every retail store in Japan will charge between 2 yen to 5 yen for plastic bags.
Even though paper bags, cloth bags, biodegradable bags, and biomass bags were not targeted under this system, most operators may charge for them for the purpose of reducing plastic usage.
So, what is the current situation at some of Japan’s main stores?:
Convenience stores known worldwide has been using biomass plastic bags. Biomass plastic bags are not applicable under this system, but 7-Eleven will charge 3 yen (excluding tax) for every shopping bag except their LL ones, which will cost 5 yen (excluding tax).
One of the biggest retail stores in Japan, AEON has already been charging for shopping bags since April 1, 2020.
Plastic bags M: 2 yen, L: 3 yen, LL: 5 yen (exclusive tax)
Handbag-type plastic bags LL: 5 yen (exclusive of tax)
Paper bag: 10 yen (exclusive of tax)
DAISO has been using bio plastic bags, which will be switched to biodegradable bags in hopes to increase their environmental effort.
Plastic bag S: 2 yen, M: 4 yen, L: 7 yen (excluding tax)
UNIQLO and GU have already been charging 10 yen (excluding tax) for every plastic bags, while Matsumoto Kiyoshi, the biggest drug store chain in Japan, finished supplying plastic bags and has required customers to bring their own shopping bags or eco-bags since April 2020.
What are some alternative instead of plastic bags?
Bringing one’s own eco-bag has been and will be the main step to reduce plastic usage. Here are some cute eco-bags to help the environment and bring some style to your life!
Among many eco-bags, cashier bags called “regi-kago(basket)-bag” are really useful and helpful in saving your time. Bring your basket bag and say “Kore-ni-irete-kudasai” (put materials into this bag) at the cashier. This way you can just go home without having to pack your bags yourself.
Most local governments have designated garbage bags which can be purchased at supermarkets, convenience stores, or the nearest post office; but in other cases, there are cities that have not done so. In this case, some people tend to use plastic bags as garbage bags. If you are looking for alternatives of a plastic bags to use them as garbage bags, you can find 45L trash bags at 100-yen stores like DAISO.
For more details of garbage disposal, read you can read our guide on how to dispose garbage in Japan
This is a good trigger that can help people think whether they really need small plastic bags to carry just a cup of instant noodles or a loaf of bread. Rethinking our lifestyle and individual acts will surely lead to help protect and save the environment.