Japan plans to lead a new initiative to gauge the amount of marine plastic waste released from individual countries in cooperation with the United States and the European Union, according to informed sources.
Talks on the matter will start at a four-day working-level meeting of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Tokyo from Tuesday, the sources said.
The central government aims to announce the results of the discussions at a G20 meeting in Saudi Arabia next year.
The figures currently used were compiled by the U.S. government and others in 2015. But the numbers are rough estimates based on coastal populations, the sizes of economies and other data.
The estimates put the annual amount released from Japan at 20,000 to 60,000 tons. The volume coming from China is calculated to be anywhere from 1.32 million to 3.53 million tons.
Japan, the United States and the EU have decided to take the initiative in establishing a method for obtaining estimates closer to the real numbers, as there currently is no such international mechanism in place, according to the sources.
In June this year, the G20 energy and environment ministers agreed to set up the first international framework for cooperation to reduce marine plastic waste.
The forthcoming Tokyo meeting will be the first opportunity for G20 members to report their efforts made within the framework.
The meeting is also seen as a starting point toward the realization of the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, which was approved at the G20 summit in Osaka in June, to reduce additional marine plastic pollution to zero by 2050.
On Tuesday, Japan, the United States and the EU will jointly hold a workshop, mainly for specialists, on methods for measuring plastic waste volume and developing water-soluble plastics.
The EU will primarily be in charge of estimating the amount of waste released into the ocean, while Japan will take the lead in measuring the actual amount of marine plastic litter.
The United States will focus on technological innovations.
At the Tokyo meeting, a report will be drawn up to summarize measures against marine waste taken by G20 members. Also planned is the adoption of a road map to promote effective waste management, including a reduction in food losses and more efficient uses of resources.