Mandatory Charges For Most Plastic Bags From July

Mandatory charges for most plastic bags from July

Japan's government plans to require all retailers in the country to charge customers for plastic bags starting on July 1 next year. Environmentally-friendly bags will be exempt.

The plan was presented at a study meeting organized by the environment and industry ministries on Friday.

Many retailers now offer shoppers plastic bags free of charge for their purchases.

Under the plan, bags that are at least 25 percent biomass plastic, which is derived from plants, will be exempt from charges. Bags made of plastic that dissolves into water and carbon dioxide in the sea, as well as reusable bags with a minimum thickness of 0.05 millimeters, will also be excluded.

Small, thin bags used to carry fish and meat will also be excluded for hygiene reasons.

Convenience stores and other businesses have been requesting that plastic bags to take out heated meals and soup remain free of charge, but the request has been rejected.

The new rule would start on July 1 next year, three months later than originally planned by the government, after several industry groups asked for more time to prepare.

The government plans to amend related regulations this December after listening to public opinion.