Plastic bags on the way out

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Plastic bags may soon be a thing of the past at your local grocery store in South Korea.

Starting with a revised ban that took effect Jan. 1, the South Korean government is seeking to promote recycling and conservation through a push to remove disposable plastic bags at all supermarkets and other retailers nationwide.

This means some supermarkets might still offer plastic bags but charge a fee which might encourage patrons to bring their own reusable bags or paper bags.

As of now, about 2,000 hypermarkets and supermarkets over 165-square meters in size are required to offer customers recyclable containers, cloth shopping bags or paper bags as alternatives to plastic bags. Wet goods like meat and fish are exempt from the plastic bag ban. Traditional markets and small stores are also excluded from the ban. But, the government said eventually all stores and markets will be under the regulation.

The revised law also prohibits around 18,000 bakeries nationwide from using plastic bags. Retailers who ignore the ban could face fines the equivalent of up to $2,680.

So, make sure to carry around your reusable shopping bags next time you head to the grocery store. It’ll save you (and your grocery bagger) a lot of trouble while also helping to protect the environment.

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