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  • Japanese authorities are devising plans to reduce the volume of disposable plastic products.

    Japanese authorities are devising plans to reduce the volume of disposable plastic products. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 20 October 2018

Prior to a ban, the bulk of Japan’s 1.5-million tons of plastic waste was being exported to China, annually. 

Japan is facing a serious and mounting plastic waste dilemma since neighbors China has stopped accepting foreign waste imports, authorities stated Thursday.

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As the cost of processing waste continues to rise, several developing nations are grappling to find an effective solution to the wide-scale problem of plastic pollution after China stopped accepting their waste.

Since 1992, almost three-quarters of global plastic waste had ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances. But, China’s new environmental policy effected the country’s borders being closed off to most paper and plastic waste in January.

Prior to the ban, the bulk of Japan’s 1.5-million tons of plastic waste was being exported to China, annually. Authorities are devising plans to reduce the volume of disposable plastic products  including drinking straws, plastic bottles and shopping bags by 25 percent  as well as increase the percentage of plastic packaging products recycled to 60 percent, all by 2030.

A recent Japanese survey shows that about a quarter of major regional and municipal governments in the country have registered an increased accumulation of plastic waste, according to the Japanese environment ministry. Over 100 local governments and 175 waste processing firms participated in the ministry’s survey. 

Japan is implementing methodologies to stem illegal dumping as well as the capacity to process plastic waste locally, the ministry said. Additionally, the Japanese government aims to boost recycling. The Environment Ministry is also pushing for mandatory charges be added to plastic shopping bags by retailers, ahead of a G20 summit scheduled for June 2019.   

The country has come under fire for its indifference to plastic waste, especially after Japan and the United States opted to be the only non-signatories to the Ocean Plastics Charter, which was supported by other G7 nations.

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