Japanese consumers have embraced a campaign to address their addiction to plastic bags, but new measures to combat marine pollution have created an unforeseen problem: a rise in shoplifting.
All of Japan’s stores were in July required to introduce a fee for plastic shopping bags, with the aim of encouraging shoppers to use their own reusable bags rather than pay for carrier bags.
While supermarket and convenience store chains reported a dramatic drop in plastic bag use as consumers quickly changed their shopping habits, a significant proportion said some were exploiting the campaign against single-use plastics to shoplift.
Despite being encouraged to use regular in-store baskets, some shoppers place items in their own bags, making it harder for staff to spot stolen goods, local media have reported.
At Akidai Sekimachi Honten, a supermarket in Tokyo, about 80 percent of customers started bringing their own bags when the plastic bag charge was introduced, Jiji Press has reported.
The country’s three largest convenience store operators reported a similarly impressive trend, saying that 75 percent of their customers had shunned plastic bags in July.
However, a rise in shoplifting has forced the store to tighten security, even including measures to combat the theft of baskets some light-fingered customers use to carry their shopping home rather than pay for a plastic bag.
“We’re not OK with customers taking away baskets, as they cost a few hundred yen each,” Hiromichi Akiba, the supermarket chain’s president, told Jiji. “We thought we would be able to reduce costs by charging for plastic bags, but we’ve been facing unexpected expenditures instead.”
Shop assistants have said they are reluctant to confront people they suspect of placing items into a reusable bag with the intention of leaving without paying.
“It’s difficult to judge whether they are stealing or not,” one Tokyo supermarket employee said.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory