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Supermarket shoppers now pay for plastic bags

Date Posted: 2007-09-04

Plastic shopping bags at many supermarkets are no longer free.
Jusco supermarkets are the latest to charge for plastic bags to take home groceries, citing a need to stop global warming by reducing pollution. Instead of the traditional free plastic shopping bags, they now cost ¥5 each. The first 100 customers were given free Jusco canvas shopping bags as the new policy went into effect.
The same new policy applies at San A Main Place, and A Coop Appletown. Naha City has begun a campaign to educate shoppers to use their own shopping bags to significantly curb garbage. Some supermarkets are renting shopping bags to customers.
Some store managers are expressing concerns the new bag rule could affect sales. “We feel a bit worried,” said one. “It might reduce sales, but we need to protect the earth from global warming. I hope people will understand,” he said. A Jusco official, Misao Uehara, says that “without taking any action, things will never change; we’ll never protect the world from global warming. We need to change now.”
Customer reaction was mixed, but mostly favorable. “I’m all for it,” said one. “Using your own bag is a great thing, and makes shoppers beautiful,” said another. “If your shopping bag is cute, or you design your own bag, that kills two birds with one stone.”
Another view was that stores should improve service instead of charging for bags. “Better items and better prices will cover it,” another noted. Okinawa Recycling Campaign’s Rep. Chihiro Koga, who spearheaded the crusade for curbing use of plastic bags by having stores encourage people to bring their own, says “this is a three-month test case. If the general public doesn’t support or understand this paid bags policy, we’ll have to stop their use.” Koga hopes that won’t happen though, “because to stop charging for bags means more bags being used, and we won’t be working to protect against global warming.” The leader says “I hope every citizen will think about environmental problems and protecting the earth. We need support from every citizen.”

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