National

Restaurants and retailers in Japan rethinking use of plastic in bid to curb pollution

JIJI, Kyodo

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

The Foreign Ministry has decided to refrain from using plastic straws and cups in 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 stores across the country, totaling some 780, 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 considering reviewing its use of plastic take-out containers.

The beverage industry has also been acting to reduce plastic waste.

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.