Japan is the latest Asian country to target plastic bags, with the government encouraging retailers to reduce bag consumption.
Some Japanese retailers have responded by cutting back on bag use, with one chain of convenience stores, Lawson Inc., beginning a month-long campaign asking customers to not use as many bags, the Associated Press reported. But some retail groups said it could be difficult to get some consumers to cut back, arguing it would be rude not to give customers bags for some products.
A law that passed the country's parliament June 9 only gives the government the power to warn retailers that it feels are not doing enough to reduce bag use. Some environmental critics said stronger action is needed, and said the country will have to require stores to charge customers for bags, in order to see any serious reduction, AP said.
The report also suggested that cultural traditions could make it hard to cut back, arguing that the country's heavy use of plastic wrap, in some cases wrapping individual pieces of fruit, stems in part from the island nation's tradition of gift giving, which places great value on presentation.