Jun 12 - Japan Shoppers to Wrap Up Excessive Plastic Consumption

Hiroko Tabuchi of the Associated Press reports on a law revision made in Japan's Parliament on Friday that will allow the government to issue warnings to retailers that do not take measures to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.  Locals cite politeness and the country's emphasis on presentation as the cause of overuse.

Buy lunch and a magazine at any Japanese convenience store, and you're likely to get your drink in one plastic bag, hot lunch box in another, and your magazine in yet a third.

The mega-packaging keeps your food hot, your drink cool and your newspaper clean, but environmentalists say it also creates a mountain of plastic waste that fouls the air, pollutes the oceans and contributes to global warming.

...That convenience is bad news for the environment, said Yoshitaka Fukuoka, a professor of environmental science at Tokyo's Rissho University...

"Stores must be forced to charge for bags. That's the only way Japanese consumers can be persuaded to cut down on the plastic bags they use," Fukuoka said.
Germany, for example, saw plastic bag use fall by 70 percent after the government introduced a small levy in 2002. Similar strategies have been successfully employed in Ireland, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia, Shanghai and Taiwan.

Though the revision does not go into effect until 2007, many retailers are already making efforts to cut back. 

Click here to read the complete article in the San Jose Mercury News.

What you can do:

  • TAKE ACTION to move an important bill forward that reduces this type of waste!  Plastic bag litter and overuse is a continuing problem here in California. Assembly Bill 2449 (Levine) hopes to reduce plastic bag waste in our state and is currently in the State Senate Environmental Quality committee.
  • TRACK AB 2449 with the Legislative Counsel.
  • LEARN how to reduce your input into the waste stream in CAW's Living Green.