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Supermarkets, large stores are banned from providing disposable plastic bags in Korea Updated: 2019-04-01 19:07:18 KST

Large stores in South Korea are no longer providing single-use plastic bags, in line with a government policy aimed at protecting the environment.
The law went into effect on Monday, across 2,000 large supermarkets, department stores and shopping malls as well as 11-thousand grocery stores larger than 165 square metres.

"The next time you go shopping you'll have to bring a reusable shopping bag like this one, or purchase a recyclable paper bag."

Plastic roll bags in particular have been used by Korean shoppers to carry fruit and vegetables, and other pick-and-choose items like baked goods.
But from Monday, stores caught giving them away, will be fined over 26-hundred U.S. dollars.
Exceptions have been made for products that can leak or melt, such as ice cream or packs of tofu.
For many shoppers, the policy will take some getting used to.

"It's so inconvenient. How are we going to carry our groceries now? It's a problem, especially for older people like me."

"I try to carry a reusable bag when I can but sometimes you're in a hurry. I think the policy's too strict."

Other shoppers say they're on board with the ban.

"We need the policy for the sake of the environment, our future, and our children."

Environmentalists say the plastic bag-ban regulation has been a long time coming.
The country has actually banned stores from giving away free plastic bags since 1999, as a measure for environmental protection.
But it's clear the law was widely disregarded, with Korea's consumption of plastic bags nearly doubling from 12.five billion bags in 2003, to 21 billion bags in 2015.

"The typical South Korean uses about 420 plastic bags a year -- and there's nowhere for these bags to go. In Finland, the per capita average is 4 bags a year. The EU's average is around 200 bags a year but it's moving to half that number within the next five years. So Korea's new policy is a positive and much needed change."

The environment ministry says the new policy could reduce the use of two.two billion plastic bags every year.
South Korea joins dozens of countries which have imposed bans or taxes on disposable plastics to reduce their detrimental impact on our planet.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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