S. Korea bans plastic bags at large retail shops from April 1

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2019-03-27 15:48 Updated : 2019-03-27 15:48
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[Courtesy of the Ministry of Environment]

SEOUL -- In an effort to reduce plastic pollution and accelerate the recycling of resources, South Korea will ban single-use plastic bags at all large retailers including department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets. For the convenience of customers, plastic containers for ice cream and wet goods like meat and fish were excluded.

The nationwide ban, which followed a three-month test period, takes effect on April 1, affecting some 2,000 large shopping malls and 11,000 supermarkets with a shopping space of more than 165 square meters, the Ministry of Environment said Wednesday. Violators face a fine of up to three million won ($1,762).

Currently, shoppers should pay 50 won to buy a small single-use plastic bag or 500 won for a vinyl bag which can be reused for garbage disposal at designated areas. Paper bags reinforced with plastic coating can be used because paper bags are easily torn apart when they contain wet products.

South Korea has joined a global campaign to reduce plastic pollution. From August 1 last year, coffee shops in Seoul were ordered to provide mug cups or renewable cups for customers drinking inside.