• Kyodo


The government will announce an ambitious plan aimed at cutting disposable plastic waste by 25 percent over the next decade while promoting environmentally friendly bioplastics made from plants, sources said Saturday.

By setting the goal, Tokyo aims to display its commitment to tackling environmental issues ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka next June.

Japan produces the largest amount of plastic waste per capita after the United States and has lagged behind other countries in curbing the use of plastics.

The target will likely be added to a draft strategy on plastic waste reduction being prepared by the Environment Ministry. It will be submitted to a ministry panel on Friday and the strategy is expected to be compiled by the end of the year.

The use of bioplastic materials will be increased to around 2 million tons by the target year of 2030 from 70,000 tons in fiscal 2013, according to the sources.

Plastic bottles and packaging, which make up a large portion of plastic waste, totaled 4.07 million tons in 2016, according to the ministry. Overall plastic waste data including for straws and stirrers were not available.

Businesses voiced concerns about negative economic repercussions and the feasibility of the target.

It costs less than ¥1 to produce a plastic straw but around ¥13 for a paper straw, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Bioplastics are also more expensive than conventional plastics.

On the goal of boosting bioplastics by nearly 30 times by fiscal 2030, a government official said, “It is very ambitious and would be really tough to achieve.”

Among other goals, the government aims to raise the proportion of recycled and reused plastic to 60 percent of all household and industrial waste. In fiscal 2016, the figure stood at 53 percent for household waste.

The Environment Ministry also plans to set targets for the reuse of all plastics including electronic appliances and automobile parts.

To achieve the goals, the government will make it mandatory for retail shops to charge for shopping bags and slash the use of microplastics in facial scrubs and toothpaste.

By stepping up monitoring of illegal dumping and encouraging investment in businesses taking environmentally friendly steps, the government eventually aims to completely halt the dumping of plastic items in the ocean.

The draft reflected numerical targets in the Ocean Plastic Charter that Japan and the United States refused to sign at the Group of Seven summit in June. The Japanese government draft set even more ambitious target years for recycling and other measures compared with the charter.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.