The Japanese government has decided to cut down on the use of plastic products in cafeterias and shops at about 200 government agencies and affiliated institutions, such as national universities, beginning in fiscal 2019.
The decision is aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste in the oceans. It was made when the guidelines for signing contracts between the government and the operators of in-house cafeterias and shops were being revised.
The operators of cafeterias will be asked to avoid using disposable plastic cutlery or containers. However, exceptions can be made when people with disabilities are being served.
The owners of convenience stores and other retailers will be asked to stop providing plastic shopping bags and plastic straws.
The government says it will only sign contracts with entities that can comply with the new standards, which are set to take effect in April.
Efforts to cut down on the use of plastic shopping bags have been underway since late last year at a convenience store in the building that houses the Environment Ministry.
Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada says the new standards will be strictly applied. He expressed hope that the government-led campaign will prompt local authorities and various industrial sectors to take action as well.