S Korea to ban single-use plastic bags in major retailers from today

SEOUL (Xinhua) – South Korea’s En-vironment Ministry said yesterday that major local retailers would be banned from offering single-use plastic bags beginning today to conserve natural resources and facilitate recycling.

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.

The plastic bags should be replaced with recyclable containers, cloth shopping bags or paper bags. Plastic bags to contain wet goods, such as meat and fish, will continue to be used.

Around 18,000 bakeries will be barred from handing out disposable plastic bags free of charge beginning today.

Stores, which violate the revised law, would be fined up to three million won.

From January to March, the environment ministry will intensively encourage the affected stores to follow the revised rule in cooperation with local governments.

As of 2015, the number of per capita use of plastic bags averaged 414. It led to the 20kg emission of greenhouse gas.