Japan should ban or tax plastic bags

How could the editorial “Time to tackle the plastic problem” in the May 1 edition not mention bans on single-use plastic bags? Are you oblivious to their massive overuse here in Japan?

A few stores here offer a ¥1 or ¥2 discount if you bring your own bag. Several more offer “eco” points. These are the exceptions. Usually clerks are so quick to put purchases in bags that by the time you say “no bag, thanks,” it is too late. If you insist, they take the item out of the bag and then put the bag in the trash rather than back on the pile!

It is time to start a campaign for a ban or tax in Japan. Quite a few other Asian countries already have bans or taxes in place, even China. The European Union has said it wants to see an 80 percent drop in their use by 2019. California has banned them following a successful ballot measure.

It’s a win for the planet. It’s a win for the shops. They get to sell reusable bags instead of paying for plastic bags to give away. Shoppers quickly get used to carrying foldable bags with them and enjoy not having to dispose of all those plastic bags when they get home. Generally, only the plastic bag makers are against it.

MARK CALLOW
YOKOHAMA

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.