Japanese consumers have adopted a campaign to deal with their products Addiction to plastic bagsBut new measures to combat marine pollution have created an unexpected problem: increased shoplifting.
All Japanese stores were required to charge a fee for plastic shopping bags in July with the aim of encouraging shoppers to use their own reusable bags instead of paying for carry-on bags.
While supermarket chains and small stores reported a significant decrease in the use of plastic bags as consumers quickly changed their shopping habits, a large proportion said that some are taking advantage of the campaign against Single-use plastics To steal goods from the store.
Although they are encouraged to use regular baskets in stores, some shoppers put items in their own bags, making it difficult for employees to spot stolen goods, according to media reports.
At Akidai Sekimachi Honten, a Tokyo supermarket, about 80% of customers began bringing their own bags when plastic bag fees were introduced, according to Jiji Press. The country’s three largest stores reported an impressive trend, saying that 75% of their customers avoided plastic bags in July, when the fees were imposed.
But high rates of shoplifting from stores have forced the store to tighten security measures, including measures to combat the theft of baskets that some light-toed customers use to take them home instead of paying for a plastic bag.
“We are not okay with customers taking baskets because each one costs a few hundred yen,” said Hiromichi Akiba, head of the Gigi supermarket chain. “We thought we would be able to cut costs by charging plastic bags, but we ran into unexpected expenses instead.”
Store aides say they are reluctant to run into people who suspect they are putting items in a reusable bag with the intention to leave without paying. “It’s difficult to judge whether or not they are stealing,” said a Tokyo supermarket employee.
In response, a nonprofit group produced posters advising customers about “shopping etiquette,” such as keeping their reusable bags folded until they pass the checkout.
One expert in store theft suggested that employees go out of their way to chat with shoppers to “keep an eye on them.”
Despite the increase in petty crimes, activists say the plastic bags charge was long overdue Japan, The second-largest producer of plastic waste per capita in the world after the United States, with consumers receiving an estimated 30 billion plastic bags annually.