To say that the movement to ban single-use plastics is picking up steam is an understatement. Recently, New Zealand announced they would ban single-use plastic bags, and now South Korea has added their voice to the growing list of cities, states, provinces, and countries that are banning the wasteful plastic bags.
South Korea’s ban applies to major supermarkets. The goal is to reduce waste, plastic pollution, and the use of natural resources to make these single-use bags. The law goes into effect Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
Currently, supermarkets in South Korea can offer plastic bags, but there is a small fee associated with them. But now, plastic bags will no longer be permitted at all. More than 13,000 markets will be impacted.
Failure to abide by the ban can result in fines up to 3 million won, or around $2,700 in US dollars. If you think that’s a harsh punishment, in Kenya, those who violate the plastic bag ban can spend up to 4 years in prison and have to pay a fine of up to $39,000!
Whether or not plastic bag bans will help reduce the amount of plastic found in the world’s oceans is yet to be seen, but promising data has been made available. One study found a 30% decrease in plastic bags on the seabed of Northern Europe after plastic bag restrictions and taxes went into place.