The government is considering adding toothbrushes and stationery to the list of plastic goods that municipalities collect for recycling, sources said Thursday.
The measure will be proposed to teams of experts set up by the environment and industry ministries as early as late July.
The government hopes to submit legislation to revise related laws such as the containers and packaging recycling law at next year’s ordinary session of the Diet, the sources said.
Plastic bags, food trays, shampoo bottles and other plastic containers are already collected as recyclable waste at over 70 percent of Japan’s municipalities under the containers and packaging recycling law and handed over to recycling businesses.
However, other plastic items such as toothbrushes, folders, toys and bowls are treated as combustible waste in most municipalities.
The government studied cases of some municipalities collecting such plastic items together with plastic containers and packages. It has concluded that this method makes it easier for citizens to sort recyclable goods from nonrecyclable items, thus leading to higher recycling rates.
The current law requires municipalities to make efforts to collect plastic containers and packages separately from other waste. The envisaged revision would include other plastic items in the separate collection category.
According to analysis mainly by the Environment Ministry, 66 percent of plastic waste from households in fiscal 2018 was containers and packaging, while plastic bottles accounted for 18 percent and other items 16 percent.
The containers and packaging recycling law was established in 1995 because of concerns that final disposal sites for waste were running out of space.
The government believes that private-sector recycling facilities have increased since then, making it easier to recycle a wider range of used plastic goods, sources said.