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Over 70 percent of shoppers at outlets of three major Japanese convenience store operators declined to pay for plastic shopping bags in July, according to data from the companies.

Since July 1, all retailers across the country have been obliged to charge for disposable plastic shopping bags, which were previously distributed free of charge, as part of efforts to reduce plastic waste.

The convenience store industry in Japan has set a target of increasing the proportion of customers not receiving paid bags to at least 60 percent by fiscal 2030. The proportion topped the target in the just one month after the mandatory program was introduced, thanks partly to growing public awareness about environmental protection, pundits said.

For the whole of July, the share of such customers came to 75 percent at Seven-Eleven Japan Co. and 77 percent at FamilyMart Co. The proportion stood at 76 percent at Lawson Inc. for the period from July 1 to 25.

The results marked a stark contrast to figures of around 25 percent seen through fiscal 2019, which ended in March this year, according to the Japan Franchise Association. Many customers now carry away products they purchased without using shopping bags or bring their own bags, officials of the association said.

A FamilyMart official cited consumers’ growing tendency to spend less, on top of increased environmental awareness.

Seven-Eleven Japan charges ¥3 to ¥5 per plastic bag, and FamilyMart and Lawson ¥3.

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