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Let's discuss the problem with plastic straws

This week’s featured article

JIJI

Japan is increasingly rethinking its use of plastic as the fight against marine pollution spreads worldwide.

The Foreign Ministry has decided to refrain from using plastic straws and cups at the international conferences and receptions they organize, in line with the government’s plan to take up the issue of ocean pollution at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June.

Major restaurant chain Ringer Hut Co. announced Thursday that it will stop using plastic straws at all of its approximately 780 stores across the country by Monday.

In December, Skylark Holdings Co. stopped using plastic straws at all 1,370 outlets of its Gusto restaurant chain. They now provide customers with straws made from corn upon request.

“Many customers choose not to use straws after learning that the change was for environmental reasons,” a Skylark official said.

Ootoya Holdings Co. removed plastic straws from self-service drink areas at around 150 restaurants.

“There were no complaints from customers when plastic straws were removed in an experimental trial,” a company official said.

Ootoya is also considering reviewing its use of plastic take-out containers.

The beverage industry has been acting to reduce plastic waste as well.

The Japan Soft Drink Association plans to reuse all used plastic bottles by fiscal 2030.

The move “is designed to demonstrate the industry’s resolve to take voluntary action before debates on regulations start,” an association official said.

The association also plans to beef up its campaign against plastic bottle littering.

First published in The Japan Times on Jan. 13.

Warm up

One-minute chat about dining out.

Game

Collect words related to “waste,” e.g., trash, leftover, recycle.

New words

1) approximately: a word that indicates something is almost, but not exactly, e.g., “It takes approximately six hours to drive from Tokyo to Osaka.”

2) experimental: a new thing based on untested ideas or techniques, e.g., “The drone completed an experimental flight.”

3) voluntary: doing of your own free will, e.g., “Taking part in the health check is completely voluntary.”

4) beef up: to make stronger, e.g., “The castle plans to beef up its defences by building a wall.”

Guess the headline

Restaurants and retailers in Japan rethinking use of p_ _ _ _ _ _ in bid to curb p_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) What is the trend that this article is talking about?

2) Why are Japanese businesses trying to limit the use of plastic?

3) How is the public reacting?

Let’s discuss the article

1) How many plastic items do you see now?

2) What do you think about the trend mentioned in the article?

3) How do you think we can be more environmentally friendly?

Reference

ビニール袋の削減という試みが小売店などで始まってから、プラスチック製のストローなどさらに一歩踏み込んだプラスチック製品の削減は日本ではまだ日の浅い取り組みです。とはいえ、最近になって日本でもストローなどを利用する業界が先導する形でその運動が加速してきました。これまで慣れ親しんだものがなくなることに不便を感じる人もいるでしょうが、その意義が知られているからか目立った反発はないようです。産業界の力は大きなものですが、地球の環境を守るために私たちができることは何かを考える必要もあります。朝の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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