As of April 1st, the government has now imposed a complete ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large-sized supermarkets, in an effort to reduce plastic pollution and encourage the reuse of recyclables. Discount stores, department stores, shopping malls and supermarkets larger than 165 square meters in size should not provide single-use plastic bags to customers but offer recyclable containers, cloth or paper bags, or plastic trash bags. Violators will be subject to a maximum fine of 3 million won ($2,650). But plastic bag packaging will be allowed for wet, moisture-containing food such as tofu, fish, shellfish and meat, as well as products that can melt like ice cream and certain vegetables.
Smaller-sized mom-and-pop stores, traditional markets, and bakeries can still provide single-use plastic bags but only with a charge ― free provision will be prohibited. The ministry said it expects the nation to reduce the use of plastic bags by around 2.2 billion pieces per year.