Tokyo Disney to Start Charging for Shopping Bags

September 7, 2020, 2:41 PM · Fans soon will have to pay for their shopping bags at a major Disney theme park resort.

The Tokyo Disney Resort, home to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, announced today that it will start charging ¥20 (about 19 cents US) per bag, starting October 1.

Tokyo Disney Resort concept image

"Oriental Land Co., Ltd. and its group subsidiaries are committed to reducing plastic waste based on the environmental policy of the Oriental Land group companies," the resort's owner said in its press release. "Company efforts will continue to be made to sustain the environment for future generations and offer happiness for our guests."

Wrapping gifts is a big deal in Japan, where presenting an unwrapped gift to someone long has been considered impolite. But respect for the environment is important, too, so that's prompted the change.

Tokyo Disney has been selling reusable bags at the resort, so frequent visitors can continue to have their purchases wrapped in a Tokyo Disney bag without additional charges.

Replies (11)

September 8, 2020 at 3:38 AM

Seems on par with U.K. mandatory bag charging.

September 8, 2020 at 9:28 AM

These regressive taxes and fees simply don't work in the ways that they are intended. The concept behind these bag taxes is that people will not want to pay the nominal fee for a plastic bag (some areas even tax paper bags now) and remember to bring a reusable bag instead. However, this negative reinforcement does little to change behavior as most guest don't remember to bring a re-usable bag until they're standing at the register when it's too late.

The money collected through these initiatives eventually goes into general funds, and does more to fuel additional, unnecessary government oversight instead of reducing pollution. Some retailers even take advantage of the consumer's expectation to pay for a bag by charging even more than the government requires to add to their bottom line, which is what Disney appears to be doing here in Japan.

I think consumer behavior and use of plastic bags would be more dramatically impacted if people were either given a discount on their purchase or a credit for using reusable or no bags (Target and a few other large retailers do this in some areas).

September 8, 2020 at 8:13 AM

Interesting, as in TDR when you purchase something , the staff will ask if you want a bag for every item. Not understanding this concept or Japanese I have often left the store with several new and folded bags inside with my purchase. Overall, I think this will go over well there.

September 8, 2020 at 10:03 AM

I kind of understand the tax on bags in grocery stores and other areas were using a re-usable bag makes sense. At a theme park its just a money grab. If I'm buying a souvenir at Disney I want the Disney bag! Not to mention the fact that nobody will be carrying around re-usable bags going to a theme park.

If the money collected actually went somewhere good I would have no objections paying for them but let's be honest here that money goes to the bottom line of the stores. That's why I have no problems admitting if I forget my bags I use self check out and don't pay for them. My business at the store is enough and bags should be included anyways.

September 8, 2020 at 12:13 PM

Why don’t they just start giving out paper bags if they’re worried about the environment? Busch and SeaWorld have been doing that for years and it seems to work out fine.

September 8, 2020 at 12:30 PM

@James - I assume that was a rhetorical question, because the answer is obvious...Why should Disney pay for more expensive paper bags when they can keep using plastic bags that they can then charge guests for in the name of the environment?

September 8, 2020 at 1:05 PM

I think this is a smart move on TDLR to use culture and environmental concern to their benefit and make a little extra money during a really bed economic time for the industry.
Like Brandon said earlier - when you make purchases at TDL, the staff puts all your purchases into one large bag, but then they include smaller item sized bags to use as gift wrap when presenting them to family and friends.
The Japanese people will want those bags to do the right thing when giving gifts, and they will also wish to do the right thing to protect the environment.
It's pretty smart on their behalf.
The culture demands giving gifts in wrappings and issue is will the person getting the gift properly dispose of or recycle/reuse the bag? I hope so.

September 8, 2020 at 2:02 PM

So do you think the goal here is to affect the cultural need of the Japanese to individually wrap gifts or to make some extra money off of it?

If custom demands gifts be wrapped, then charging a fee for extra bags is not going to change the behavior. It's also not going to make people think about recycling, as bag fees have been shown again and again to not be direct drivers of environmental consciousness - not to mention the person receiving the gift has no idea that the wrapping cost extra.

Certainly Disney could use some extra revenue here, and tacking on a few extra shekels for customary wrapping is easy money. However, let's not veil this as any more than a moneymaking scheme that does about as much for preserving our environment as a reduction from thrice to twice daily spray tanning for the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

September 9, 2020 at 2:32 AM

Please see the above news. This is not a TDR exclusive thing but a new Japanese law.

September 9, 2020 at 12:34 PM

@Russell Meyer

These schemes do work. Here in the UK, the bag tax has seen use of single-use plastic bags drop by 95%, everyone remembers to take bags shopping with them, and the money does go to good causes. I can personally vouch for my community theatre getting thousands of pounds from supermarket bag schemes, and I know of many other charities that have also received money.

September 9, 2020 at 3:16 PM

@Ian - But see, that's the problem with these schemes. It's wonderful that your community theater and other charities are supported by the revenue generated from bag taxes, but the entire argument for these fees is to improve the environment. It's self defeating and unprincipled to collect fees from a program designed to help the environment and then route them to the arts or some other cause instead of actually improving the environment. Also, the goal of such programs should be to reach the point where no one is using plastic bags, creating a situation of diminishing returns where entities counting on funds receive less and less unless the tax rate is increased.

These bag taxes can occasionally be modestly successful, mostly in urban centers, if your goal is to make money, but in the end, they do very little to actually address the problem of excess non-degrading waste and trash. If society was truly interested in improving this situation, plastic bags would be forbidden, and only paper bags and reusable bags would be allowed to be manufactured.

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