A number of Japanese firms have recently turned to paper as a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic products, from water-resistant cardboard boxes to small hangers.

The move comes as the government looks to enforce a law to improve the country's plastic recycling practices and cut down on waste from April next year.

This month, fishery firm Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. became the first company to use water-resistant cardboard products developed by Nippon Paper Industries Co., replacing its standard Styrofoam containers to transport fresh fish packed with ice.

The newly manufactured cardboard is coated with a chemical that repels water and moisture, and when made into a box, it can hold water for up to three weeks, Nippon Paper Industries said.

By switching to its new paper products from Styrofoam, the use of petroleum-derived raw materials can be cut by 96%, according to Nippon Paper. The firm aims to promote the use of paper in place of plastics to firms with "environmentally friendly outlooks."

Although the cost of the cardboard boxes is higher than Styrofoam products, the paper alternative is more compact and saves space during transportation, with the additional perk of being recyclable, Nippon Suisan Kaisha said.

Meanwhile, Oji F-Tex Co., a subsidiary of pulp and paper manufacturer Oji Holdings Corp., has developed transparent paper to help curb the use of plastic film.

Products wrapped in the new transparent packaging are visible to the consumer, and as 51% of the wrapping is made out of paper, it can be disposed of as burnable trash.

Daio Paper Corp. also began selling stir sticks and miniature hangers made of paper in July. The products are made from layered pulp that has been thickened to increase durability.