SEOUL: The South Korean government has announced it will soon ban disposable plastic bags at supermarkets and other retailers nationwide, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday (Dec 31).
The ban will take effect from Jan 1, 2019, as part of a revised law that promotes recycling and conservation, the report added.
About 11,000 supermarkets and 2,000 discount outlets will now be required to offer its customers recyclable containers, cloth shopping bags or paper bags. Plastic containers will still be used for wet goods such as meat and fish.
The revised law also prohibits around 18,000 bakeries nationwide from handing out free disposable plastic bags.
Retailers who flout the ban could face fines of up to 3 million won (US$2,680).
According to Yonhap, the environment ministry plans to encourage the affected stores to observe the ban through March 2019. It is also working towards reducing the use of plastic garment bags at laundry shops.
South Korea’s move to ban the use of disposable plastic bags is the latest in a series of international initiatives to cut down on plastic waste.
Earlier this month, Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali enacted a ban on single-use plastics such as shopping bags, styrofoam and straws. The new policy aims for a 70 per cent reduction in Bali’s marine plastics by 2019.
In September, Malaysia announced that it aims to abolish single-use plastics by 2030. It also intends to introduce a charge for plastic bags.
Swedish furniture giant IKEA will also stop selling single-use plastic products such as straws, cups and freezer bags by Jan 1, 2020.
In Singapore, Yakult announced that it will no longer provide straws with its probiotic cultured milk drinks. Other companies that have acted to ditch plastic straws include KFC, Starbucks, Burger King and Resorts World Sentosa.