Companies to abolish plastic bags; int'l environmental law

Plastics are a pollutant of unique concern, as they do not break down quickly and accumulate in the environment as more is produced. 

H&M Hennes & Mauritz Japan K.K., which operates 88 H&M casual clothing stores in the country, said Tuesday that it will abolish use of plastic shopping bags in December.

The company plans to sell paper bags for ¥20 apiece instead, aiming to encourage customers to bring their own bags.

CEO Lucas Seifert told a news conference in Tokyo that just switching from plastic to paper bags is not enough in terms of sustainability. The most important thing is to eliminate the consumption of shopping bags, he said, adding that the company has a goal of halving the amount of shopping bags used in 2019 compared with 2018 figures.

The company plans to donate some of the profits from its sales of paper bags to World Wide Fund for Nature Japan.

Moves to stop using plastic products such as straws are spreading globally to fight ocean pollution.

SOURCE: JIJI, KYODO. H&M to halt use of plastic bags at Japan stores and charge for paper bags.
International Environmental Law (IEL) is concerned with the attempt to control pollution and the depletion of natural resources within a framework of sustainable development. It is a branch of public international law - a body of law created by states for states to govern problems that arise between states.

IEL covers topics such as population, biodiversity, climate change, ozone depletion, toxic and hazardous substances, air, land, sea and transboundary water pollution, conservation of marine resources, desertification, and nuclear damage.


Plastics are a pollutant of unique concern, as they do not break down quickly and accumulate in the environment as more is produced. They carry toxic impacts throughout their lifecycle — from the impacts of drilling at the wellhead, to the release of pollutants at plastic production plants affecting fenceline communities, to the plastic waste that litters our oceans and harms marine life and human health.

Yet just as the world begins to realize the dangers of plastic pollution and take action to prevent it, industry is poised to invest billions in expanding plastics production.

In as little as five years, these investments could increase global plastics production capacity by a third, driving companies to produce ever greater volumes of plastic for years to come. If this plastic is produced, companies will find markets to consume it. Production will drive demand. This wave of investment increases pollution risks to frontline communities throughout the plastics supply chain and directly undermines efforts by cities, countries, and the global community to combat the growing plastics crisis.

SOURCE: CIEL (2018). Stopping Plastic Pollution. Last updated February 2018. Center for International Environmental Law.