South Korea bans single-use plastic bags in supermarkets

South Korea is the latest nation to call it quits on disposable plastic bags.

From Tuesday (local time), most major supermarkets are banned from using single-use plastic bags - including selling them for extra at the check-out, as some New Zealand supermarkets do.

The affected stores are already blocked from freely handing out the bags, but the new rules means they can't use them at all except for with wet produce, including fish and meat.

Instead supermarkets need to offer alternatives like cloth bags or reusable paper bags - or face a fine of up to 3 million won (NZ$4000).

The ban was announced on Monday by South Korea's Ministry of Environment, with a similar ban on other disposable plastics such as straws on the horizon.

It's part of an effort to manage waste and conserve natural resources, CNN reports the Ministry of Environment as saying.

New Zealand's own plastic bag usage has slowed down considerably after the Government announced intentions to bring in a ban.

A number of retailers willingly removed their free single-use bags last year, with major corporation Foodstuffs planning to complete a phase-out by the start of 2019.

A formal ban comes into force in July.