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Supermarkets Set Plastic Bag Prices

Shoppers will be charged between 0.2 yuan to 2 yuan for the plastic bags they use, retailers have said, as the national ban on free plastic shopping bags comes into effect on Sunday.

Carrefour, one of the biggest foreign retailers in Guangzhou, said its bags can carry up to 7 kg and will cost 0.2 yuan.

Tang Juan, secretary-general of the Guangzhou Chain Store Franchise Association, said: "Different supermarkets have fixed different prices according to the cost of their plastic bags.

"But supermarkets usually round off the prices. For example, if the cost of a bag is 0.15 yuan, the supermarkets will charge 0.2 yuan for it."

The most expensive shopping bags come from Jusco, a large-scale Japan-invested retail group in Guangzhou, which will charge 2 yuan for its largest bags.

In Shanghai, Lotus Supermarkets Chain Store set their retail price at 0.3 yuan, and the bags will be printed with bar codes as goods for sale, according to an employee at the retailer's Yanggao Road store.

Hu Minghua, spokesman from Walmart in Shanghai, said the supermarket has not decided on the prices for plastic bags. But the company has been trying to promote different kinds of alternative bags at its retail stores.

Bags made of non-woven cloth are sold from 1.5 to 2.9 yuan, depending on different sizes, Hu said.

In Beijing, the largest local retail chain Wumart also priced plastic shopping bags at 0.2 and 0.4 yuan, which hold weights of 10 and 20 kg, respectively.

However, most customers said the price is too high.

A survey by the China Plastics Processing Industry Association said Chinese people consume up to 1 billion plastic shopping bags every day. Experts predict that the consumption will be reduced by two thirds after Sunday.

Many residents in Shanghai have started to resort to alternative bags.

"I'd rather carry my own bag to the supermarket from next month," Hua Fei, a university student in the city, said.

Even though most people in Guangzhou understand the intention of the policy, some people suspect supermarkets will use it to make money.

Zhang Qijun, a Guangzhou resident, said, "The prices of goods have always included the price of plastic bags."For some private small-sized grocery stores, owners worry that charging for plastic bags will reduce the number of customers.

"I will still provide my customers free plastic bags in order to maintain my business," a grocery store owner surnamed Dong said.

(China Daily May 27, 2008)

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