Muji charges New York shoppers with paper bags to promote sustainability – WWD

JUST PACK IT: The New York statewide ban on single-use plastic bags won’t go into effect until March 1, but Muji is already trying to encourage shoppers to use their own bags.

Across New York State, residents use 23 billion plastic bags each year, according to the state’s Department of Conservation. New York’s new law applies to retail outlets required to pay sales tax, although there are many exceptions such as take-out bags and newspaper deliveries and garment bags. Three years ago, California was the first state to institute a statewide ban on plastic bags and charges on permitted alternatives.

Muji’s effort is not a direct response to New York’s new legislation, although executives were aware it was coming, according to Eric Kobuchi, general manager of sales support and store development for Muji USA. . Nine of its 19 U.S. stores are in New York City, including a new location on East 59th Street with a full-service cafe and personalization center with a laser engraving machine, monograms, and fabric prints. . The price of the five-cent bag is in line with the company’s philosophy of reducing waste and being environmentally friendly and sustainable, Kobuchi said.

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“So we thought it would be a good time to start this and be a retail pioneer in terms of retail companies in New York. I wouldn’t say that we hope other companies will follow our lead. But if we have a positive influence on other companies to help reduce bag use, it is always positive. But we do it internally – more for ourselves than for anyone else, ”he said.

Muji typically uses between 6 and 8 million bags per year in North America. Muji also has locations in California and Massachusetts – where lawmakers are still setting the parameters to ban plastic bags in some cities. The retailer’s stores in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and Arcadia, Calif., Charge shoppers 10 cents for a reusable bag. With 400 stores in Japan, 200 stores in China and about 100 more in Southeast Asia, Muji’s presence in East Asia is quite strong, Kobuchi said, adding that Arcadia city has a huge population. Asian and Asian-American.

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To educate customers about the new program, Muji has set up big signs in New York City stores and is spreading the news via social media and an email newsletter. The charge for consumers who prefer to have a bag does not go towards recouping the cost of the bag and the nickel or penny does not cover the cost, Kobuchi said. “It’s mainly to get our customers to use their own bags.

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Ethel J. Montes

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