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Introduction of Fee-incurring Plastic Checkout Bags Starts in July 2020 in All Stores across Japan

Ministerial Orders related to the Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging revised

December 27, 2019

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) hereby announces that aiming to introduce fee-incurring plastic checkout bags in all stores, METI and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), on December 27 (Fri.), 2019, revised the Ministerial Orders related to the Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) and released the Guidelines on Introduction of Fee-incurring Plastic Checkout Bags in Stores in order to smoothly implement this system.

Aiming to curb the excessive use of plastic checkout bags, the revision of the system is expected to encourage consumers to change their lifestyle habits. In collaboration with related ministries and agencies, METI will strive to thoroughly raise awareness among consumers and businesses through PR campaigns.

1. Background

On May 31, 2019, METI and related ministries and agencies jointly formulated the Resource Circulation Strategy for Plastics. The strategy defines thorough achievement of reduction and other recycling efforts as one of the strategic goals that Japan should prioritize to comprehensively promote resource circulation of plastics in parallel with addressing a variety of challenges ranging from restrictions imposed on resources and waste materials to countermeasures against marine litter or global warming. As part of the efforts for achieving the goal, these ministries and agencies aim to encourage consumers to change their lifestyle habits by requiring businesses to introduce fee-incurring plastic checkout bags, e.g., prohibiting them from distributing such bags to consumers free of charge.

In response, from September 2019, a joint meeting between the Working Group for the Study for Introducing Fee-incurring Plastic Checkout Bags under the Waste and Recycling Subcommittee of the Committee on Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment of the Industrial Structure Council, METI, and the Subcommittee on the Study for Introducing Fee-incurring Plastic Checkout Bags of the Working Group for a Circular Economy of the Central Environment Council, MOE, held repeated discussions at its four meetings. Following the call for public comments on the results of the joint meeting’s discussions, the ministries revised the Ministerial Orders related to the Act and released the guidelines for the smooth implementation of this system.

2. Future schedule

The revised Ministerial Orders will come into force on July 1, 2020.

Aiming to smoothly implement the system, from January 2020, related ministries and agencies will collaboratively strive to raise awareness of the system of fee-incurring plastic checkout bags among consumers and businesses and will encourage consumers to bring their own shopping bags with them. As part of these efforts, the government will open consultation counters on January 6, 2020 (direct telephone lines: 0570-000930 for businesses; 0570-080180 for consumers).

In addition, METI, as one of its own efforts, will introduce fee-incurring plastic checkout bags in its in-house stores ahead of schedule.

3. Related material

Division in Charge

Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau

Related website