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Supermarkets all agree to charge for plastic bags

Date Posted: 2008-01-04

A three-month test in a half dozen supermarkets was to determine if people could bring their own shopping bags instead of using store-provided plastic bags.

Customers responded enthusiastically, curbing use of plastic bags by tens of thousands, a move Naha City officials say saved 19,892 liters of crude oil and reduced CO2 emissions by 65 tons. As a result, all supermarkets on Okinawa say they’ll implement the program of charging for plastic bags, while encouraging customers to bring their own bags.

Prior to September’s test, few shoppers brought their own shopping bags, about 2~17%, the rest using the store’s plastic bags. Now, monitors at the six supermarkets say, 81.7% of customers bring their own bags. An estimated 187,000 plastic bags have been saved during the test period.

MaxValu Omoromachi branch says 77.9% of shoppers brought bags, up from 8.2% before September. Ameku Ryubo saw bag use go from 5.5% to 25%, and Union Makabi branch jumped from 2% to 34% of shoppers bringing their own bags. Kanehide Furujima branch bag use increased from 9% 5o 53.8%. San A Main Place saw 33% of customers start bringing their own shopping bags.

The retailers committee that organized the project of charging for plastic bags is pleased with the results. “Now, shoppers have proof they need to use their own shopping bags, and they understand they must pay for plastic bags in supermarkets,” one official said. He says all Okinawa supermarkets will now charge for plastic bags.

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