Three Japanese ministries, patent office to test ways to cut number of plastic bags offered by convenience stores

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday that it will launch an experiment next week at convenience stores at three government ministries and an agency to test ways to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags.

The experiment will be conducted for three weeks from Monday at stores in METI, the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Japan Patent Office.

The ministries and the patent office have created their own cards allowing convenience store customers to show whether they need a plastic shopping bag.

The test will examine which cards are the most effective at reducing the number of plastic shopping bags.

The card made by the Finance Ministry says, “No plastic bags,” with customers asked to show it at the cash register only when they don’t need a shopping bag.

The convenience stores at METI, the Foreign Ministry and the patent office, on the other hand, won’t distribute plastic bags in principle, requiring customers to present cards when they need plastic bags.

The card made by the patent office says, “Need plastic bags.”

The Foreign Ministry’s card mentions that regulations on plastic shopping bags have been introduced in over 60 countries.

METI’s card contains a picture of marine plastic waste in an attempt to raise public awareness about pollution.

A METI official predicted that the Finance Ministry’s card will be the least effective in reducing plastic bag use and that METI’s card will be the most effective.

From July, retailers in Japan will be obliged to charge customers for plastic shopping bags.

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