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The Environment Ministry has decided to launch a new initiative to support companies and nonprofit organizations that start cleanup events and introduce services to reduce the use of single-use plastic products, informed sources said.

The ministry will offer aid for private-sector efforts that are made in cooperation with local governments as it looks to build the country’s momentum toward reducing marine plastic waste, the sources said.

Costs for the initiative will be included in the ministry’s budget request for fiscal 2021. The ministry will solicit proposals from municipalities and firms that have business plans and event ideas aimed at reducing plastic waste. It will help them implement the proposed programs in the fiscal year starting in April.

Most marine plastic waste is believed to come from rubbish discarded on the streets or plastic shopping bags blown by the wind that make their way into oceans through rivers. Some studies have shown that around 80 percent of marine plastic waste is trash that originated inland.

A public opinion poll conducted by the Cabinet Office last year, however, showed that over 80 percent of the respondents thought that marine plastic waste was caused by garbage thrown away on beaches or directly into the sea. Only 60 percent knew that such waste also comes from cities, farmland and rivers, according to the survey.

In order to get more people involved in the issue, the Environment Ministry will support companies and nonprofit organizations that launch projects to combat such waste from fiscal 2021. It will send experts to those entities so that they will be able to give advice on how to turn their efforts into sustainable businesses or events.

The ministry will also create councils with local financial institutions and commercial and industrial associations to gain their support as well.

Among cleanup events that have already been held in the country, some had participants compete to pick up the most garbage.

For actions against disposable plastic products, some firms have started umbrella-sharing services, hoping to cut back the use of plastic umbrellas, while others have developed smartphone apps that allow people to find stores where they can buy drinks that can be consumed via reusable bottles.

The ministry will also support efforts that prevent plastic materials used in fishing and farming from ending up in the ocean. In addition, it will back projects aimed at developing products using materials other than plastic.

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