South Korea bans single-use plastic bags at supermarkets

Seoul: South Korea has announced a ban on big-time supermarkets and retailers nationwide from using disposable plastic bags in an attempt to conserve natural resources and reduce recyclable waste, government officials said on Monday The ban will come into effect on Tuesday as part of a revised law on conserving resources and encouraging the reuse of recyclable waste, said the country’s Ministry of Environment. Under the revised law, the use of disposable plastic bags will be prohibited from the first day of next year in major retailers, including about 2,000 discount chain outlets and some 1,100 large-sized supermarkets with floor space of 165 square metres or bigger, Yonhap news agency reported.

Stores that violate the ban could face fines of up to 3 million won (around $2,683), the Ministry said, adding that the plastic bags should be replaced with recyclable containers, cloth shopping bags or paper bags. However, plastic bags containers for wet goods, such as meat and fish, would still be used. Under the revised law, 18,000 bakeries nationwide will be barred from handing out free disposable plastic bags. In cooperation with local governments, the Environment Ministry plans to encourage the affected stores to observe the ban from January through March, the report said. The Ministry was also pushing ahead with a plan to reduce the use of plastic garment bags at laundry shops.

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