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Let's discuss plastic bag fees in Japan

This week’s featured article

JIJI

Some 77 percent of respondents support the government’s plans to charge customers for plastic shopping bags at supermarkets, convenience stores and other retailers from July, a Jiji Press poll has shown.

According to the survey on waste conducted between Jan. 10 and Jan. 13, 49.7 percent said they are supportive of the plastic bag fee, while 27.3 percent said they are somewhat supportive.

On the other hand, 8.8 percent were against the policy, while 12.5 percent were somewhat against, bringing the proportion of respondents opposed to the move to 21.3 percent.

Women were slightly more likely to be supportive of the fee, with 79.9 percent of female respondents in favor as opposed to 74.6 percent of men.

Only 66.7 percent of those aged between 18 and 29 backed the charge, while the rate of support in older age brackets ranged between 70 percent and less than 90 percent.

The survey also asked whether respondents were aware of the phrase “food waste.” The proportion of respondents who said they know the phrase well was 67.9 percent, up sharply from 51.2 percent in the previous survey. The share of those who did not know the phrase at all fell to 4.6 percent from 13 percent.

When asked about actions taken to reduce food waste, 73.3 percent of respondents said they make sure not to buy too much food and to use it up as much as possible, making this the most common method of cutting down food waste.

Other common methods include not throwing away food that reached its best-by date and consuming it as much as possible, adopted by 48.2 percent of respondents, and freezing leftover food to eat at another time, chosen by 39.8 percent.

The agriculture ministry estimated that food waste reached over 6.43 million tons in fiscal 2016.

The interview-based survey covered 2,000 people of 18 or older across Japan. Valid answers were collected from 62.0 percent of those contacted.

First published in The Japan Times on Feb. 8

Warm up

One-minute chat about grocery shopping.

Game

Collect words related to the environment, e.g., climate crisis, recycle, reuse, garbage

New words

1) back: give material or moral support to, e.g., “My dad backs the DPJ candidate.”

2) proportion: a number considered in comparison to the whole, e.g., “The proportion of DPJ voters in Japan is small.”

3) best-by date: the date by which something should be used, e.g., “The best-by date on that milk was last month, don’t drink it!”

Guess the headline

77% in Japan support f _ _s for p _ _ _ _ _ _ shopping bags

Questions

1) What was the survey about?

2) Which gender is more in support of the fee system and by what percentage?

3) What are some ideas mentioned in the article on how to reduce food waste?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you agree with the plastic bag fees?

2) What do you think about the current situation of food waste in Japan?

3) Share ways you try to reduce food waste.

Reference

環境問題の深刻化に伴い、ゴミ問題に関する新しい動きが世界中で加速し、特にプラスチック素材への対策はこの数年で厳格さを増しました。対策の一つとして挙げられているビニール袋の有料化に対する賛成/反対の数字を、皆さんは多いと捉えるでしょうか、または少ないという印象を持たれるでしょうか。生活していればゴミが出るのは仕方のないことですが、だからこそ小さな意識が大きな変革を生み出せるかもしれません。

次世代に美しい環境を残すために私たち一人一人が心がけるべきことは何なのか、朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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