Japan started to require all retail stores such as grocery stores, convenience stores, drugstores to charge for plastic shopping bags from July 1, 2020.
So far in Japan, most major grocery stores (called supermarkets) and drugstores started to charge plastic bags, however, convenience stores that have been rooted in the Japanese lifestyle have provided free shopping bags.
It was very common that the convenience store staff put even one item in a small bag, then the customer just threw in the trash bin before leaving the store.
There was the sign said “Please let us know if you don’t need a plastic bag”, but the well-trained staff didn’t give us time to tell them so. (They already put items in a bag if we didn’t pay attention.)
In my opinion, Japanese customers are very shy or just lazy to tell them “we don’t need a plastic bag”.
So I think it is a very good idea, besides it was a little late to introduce the mandatory charging of plastic bags, especially convenience stores.
The price range for plastic bags is ¥3 – ¥5/per bags.
Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi stated that he would like to change the society in which the weight reduction of plastic bags is commonplace, and will actively promote the reduction of waste plastics.
However, Environmental-friendly Bags that contains over 25% of *biomass materials are the exception, and retail stores are able to choose to introduce providing free-charge biomass bags.
*Biomass plastics are made from renewable plant-based resources.
It may not so a big problem and may not useful travel tip for you, but especially visitors who don’t get used to paying for plastic bags, it is not a bad thing to remember it.
Also, it depends on how much success this promotion, the price may differ in the future.
Don’t forget putting “Shopping bags” in the packing list to Japan.