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Japan's Environment Ministry plans to boost ocean cleanup budget in bid to tackle plastic waste

JIJI

The Environment Ministry plans to substantially increase its budget for reducing plastic waste in the ocean in fiscal 2020, in line with an action plan adopted by relevant Cabinet ministers in May, informed sources said Thursday.

The ministry provides subsidies to cover 70 percent to 90 percent of the costs of prefectural government projects to recover and dispose of marine waste. Similar projects conducted by municipalities are subsidized through prefectural governments.

The ministry also financially supports prefectures in compiling plans for combatting marine waste.

For these policies, ¥400 million was allotted in the current fiscal 2019 budget, while ¥3.1 billion was reserved in the second supplementary budget of fiscal 2018.

According to the sources, the ministry will request allocation of ¥4 billion for the subsidies in the fiscal 2020 state budget, 10 times the current level, given the action plan’s calls for promoting local governments’ efforts to recover and dispose of marine plastic waste in cooperation with fishermen.

The ministry also aims to earmark about ¥7.8 billion to subsidize half the costs for the private sector to introduce highly efficient plastic recycling equipment.

The measure is designed to help recycling operators cope with a demand surge in the wake of China’s ban on plastic waste imports and a revision to a treaty to restrict exports of dirty plastic waste, the sources said. China was the leading importer of such waste from Japan.

Furthermore, the ministry plans to seek budget allocation for supporting production of biodegradable plastics and developing a method to estimate plastic waste flows to the ocean.