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South Korea bans single-use plastic bags

The Independent logo The Independent 1/1/2019 Samuel Osborne
a hand holding a bag of luggage © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

South Korea has banned all single-use plastic bags in its major supermarkets.

Stores will instead be required to offer alternatives such as paper or cloth bags which can be recycled.

The law came into effect on Tuesday with the intention of preserving natural resources and helping to manage recyclable waste, South Korea's environment ministry said.

It will affect 2,000 major supermarkets and 11,000 supermarkets with a sales floor space greater than of 165 sq m. Bakeries will also be barred from handing out plastic bags.

Stores were previously prohibited from giving out plastic bags for free, and will now only be able to supply them to carry wet products such as meat or fish.

Moment turtle has plastic bag removed from throat

Violating the ban comes with a fine of up to 3 million won (£2,100).

The ministry said it also hopes to reduce the use of disposable drinking straws.

It comes after figures showed the sale of plastic bags fell by 86 per cent since the 5p charge was introduced in the UK.

In 2014 seven major retailers issued 7.6 billion single-use bags but the number was down to just over a billion in 2017-18.

Under new plans announced by the environment secretary, Michael Gove, shoppers will have to pay double for carrier bags at all stores across England from January 2020.

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