triggered health concerns – many of the emissions were carcinogenic – and stigma environmental education. And while the U.S. recycling rate has been increasing over time—it was a mere 6.2 percent 50 years ago—there is more waste being created than ever. Since 1997, the nation’s government has passed several laws to address the disposal and treatment of plastic waste in response to rising generation by its 127-million population and a shortage of landfill space near metropolitan areas in particular. Japan’s recycling rate for metal is said to be 98 percent and partly as high for other materials. process of waste combustion. and social movement groups gaining momentum, Some 78% of the The recycling rate of PET bottles and jars was 26.8 percent in 2018, and the rate for HDPE natural bottles was 29.3 percent in 2018. Japan’s reliance on burning its waste fails to put the “3Rs” – reduce, Some goes into the landfill, but the majority — 56% — is incinerated to produce energy, according to a 2018 report from the Plastic Waste Management Institute. With approximately 73% of the Japanese archipelago occupied by mountains, and much of the rest crowded with people, there is little room for landfill, so what cannot be recycled is mostly burned. Up to 98% of the industrial waste that comes here is recycled, with only 2% going to landfills or incineration. Residents are also encouraged to avoid single-use products through a scheme that rewards consumers with points when they refuse disposable plastic items like plastic bags, for example, says Midori Suga, a spokeswoman from the Kamikatsu council. But with the factory doors open Dotted around Tokyo, for example, a number of social movement groups have begun the task of initiating low waste lifestyles. But according to the Plastic Waste Management Institut, in 2011 out of 9,520 tons of plastic waste totally 2,120 tons were mechanically recycled and 4,960 tons were thermally treated. Russian recycling rate was about 5 to 7%. In a recycling factory an hour and a half outside Tokyo, workers rigorously sort through conveyor belts of waste, segregating and classifying materials for recycling until almost nothing is left. Yu, the environmental expert, says that people in Japan usually think they’ve done their bit when they wash their plastic containers and neatly sort their trash. The rate to which Japan recycles its plastic waste is a rise from its 73% rate in 2006 and the 39% figure in 1996, according to the nation’s Plastic Waste Management Institute. From next January, retailers in the city will be banned from offering customers plastic bags — if they’re free or not. While Japan generates less general waste per person than most developed countries, it produces more plastic waste per person than anywhere in the world, except the US, according to a 2018 United Nations report. has been nudged towards a discussion on plastic bag charges—a policy many other and filter systems to avoid polluting the atmosphere, have become the de-facto Hard boiled eggs. Still, all explains why environmental movements in Japan tend to be more low-key than That’s significant because the convenience store produces roughly 2.2 billion rice balls a year, and estimates that it could save on 260 tons of plastic and reduce CO2 emissions by 403 tons a year. In 2018, Kameoka city in Kyoto prefecture became the first Japanese city to announce plans to ban single-use plastics with a view to ending their use by 2030, according to a spokesman from the city’s council. over environmental or ethical concerns. recycling came in response to public backlash against the ill effects of Japan generated 9.03 million tons of plastic waste in 2017. The residents of Kamikatsu in southern Japan, a town with a population of 1,490, have been following a “zero-waste” policy since 2003. Japan is especially scrupulous about recycling its PET bottles. Daily Weather Forecast For example, Chiba city near Tokyo flags designated spots for people to throw away the caps used to seal polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. their European counterparts. The Japanese government plans to make the recycling of plastic materials used at offices and factories mandatory from April 2022 at the earliest to increase the low recycling rate for plastic waste resulting from corporate activities. of reactionary critics who label uncompromising environmentalists radical or shift towards a circular economy therefore requires a community – one that is Today, Ms. Ishizaka is confident enough in her plant’s green A small portion of Japan’s overall plastic waste is sent overseas to be processed. “I want people to come “I like to call it yurui activism,” “If someone has just a bit too much to carry, particularly in a convenience store, they might buy a bag. In the 90s, this meant that waste-disposing areas like Saitama, a she said, which translates loosely into ‘soft’ activism based on practicing Beyond the humdrum of government talk, however, local-level initiatives are well and truly alive, albeit driving the conversation on environmental action on a much smaller scale. At the time, Japanese environmental minister Masaharu Nakagawa asserted that Japan shared the same enthusiasm for reducing plastic waste that the G7 Pact aimed for, but decided not to participate because it might impact daily life and industry. Many local government websites include detailed instructions on how people should recycle items. For me, this is brand new. Of the 8.91 million tons of plastic waste Japan generated in 2018, 4.62 million… recycling rates among OECD countries, at only 20% in 2017. Plastic, paper, PET bottles, aluminium and glass are collected and recycled. (212) 419-8286 ... recycling rate … is very high and it's already a big achievement," Ms Sakano said. For instance, in 2017, Japan exported around 75,000 tons of plastic waste to China. Japan has one of the lowest recycling rates in the OECD – but in the absence of government action, community-led initiatives are pushing for change. To put that in context, Japan has twice the population of the UK, but uses 17 times as many plastic bags. Japan has one of the lowest recycling rates in the OECD – and 78% of the remaining waste is incinerated. producing 9.1 million tons of plastic waste per annum, the Japanese government The plastics recycling rate in Japan has increased from levels of 73% in 2006 and 39% in 1996. Dioxins no longer pose a major threat. According to 2014 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the municipal recycling rate … In 2014, 50.6 percent of the 669,620 tons of plastic recycled through the Japan Containers And Packaging Recycling Association has been material recycled. The hydraulic diggers on site are electric powered—they don’t emit CO2 or fumes from burning diesel— and sprays of rainwater keep dust down and the environment clean. The scheme aims to prioritize waste prevention by educating consumers to invest in reusable household items. “If you stress activism too much it turns people off”. year. The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs across the country and to characterize the national waste stream. Among them is No Plastic Japan, founded by Mona Neuhauss. On the other hand, developing economies with a minimal industrial base have recycling rates close to 0%. And recycling is surprisingly rare: Japan has one of the lowest Back then, Japan was viewed as the world’s factory, but as its economy boomed the country sought to transform its image from a maker of cheap products to a premium retailer. The Japanese government plans to make the recycling of plastic materials used at offices and factories mandatory from April 2022 at the earliest to increase the low recycling rate for plastic waste resulting from corporate activities. It was once labelled an air polluter, but She previously worked as a research associate at The Economist, and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford. atmosphere. To an extent we are right as recycling by default is undeniably good. That sounds high — and it is — but there’s an important caveat to the figure, says Chisato Jono, a spokeswoman at Greenpeace in Japan. Undoubtedly, forging green consciousness among consumers remaining waste is sent to incinerators—by far the highest among the OECD bloc. environmental degradation often appears wholly absent at the state level in attitude enabled by incineration keeps waste invisible and its problems hard to In 2018, Japan was the world’s largest exporter of plastic waste and scrap, sending over one million tons abroad compared to nearly 900,000 tons sent by the US. Cheaper items can appear more upmarket when wrapped in plastic, Hendry writes. Of 312,950 tons used beverage cans in fiscal year 2014, 273,491 tons were recycled or reused, achieving a recycling ratio of 87.4 percent; the can-to-can recycling rate lays at 63.4 percent. Since 1997, the nation’s government has passed several laws to address the disposal and treatment of plastic waste in response to rising generation by its 127-million population and a shortage of landfill space near metropolitan areas in particular. may be the most appropriate pathway for social change. While the nationwide plastic bag fee rule marks a major move to curb Japan’s reliance on plastics, Larke cautioned that the charge might be too low to deter repeat offenders. people”, she says. There’s even a national mantra for it: Reduce, reuse, recycle. for visitors to witness what waste disposal really is. governments. Japan’s current recycling rate already compares favorably with those of Europe (41.8%) and the US (20.1%). Single-use plastics have friendly’ incinerator technologies, which use ultra-high-temperature furnaces This number equals to 6.8% of total plastic waste generated in the U.S. that year. technology, incineration releases a huge quantity of dioxins and CO2 into the About one-tenth of the volume -- 900,000 tons -- was shipped to China, which received 70% of Japan's plastic waste exports. Manufacturers paid more attention to packaging to appeal to consumers looking for quality, and the standards were reinforced by retailers who remain convinced that shoppers prefer elaborate wrapping. However, much of the plastic put in bins is not upscaled into a new product as it is too low quality and there’s far too much of it. This Today, ‘environmentally Is this a sign Japan is finally ready to tackle its love affair with plastic? Bigger cities are also trying to cut down on waste. Between 1993 and 2000, the number of plastic bottles produced tripled to more than 360,000 tonnes, according to Japan's environment ministry. “The big retailers see themselves as acting as arbiters of quality for the customer, so they will reject substandard packaging that is too simple,” says Larke. Yu says there’s a need now more than ever to transition from being a “throwaway society to an eco-friendly society.” Following trends seen across much of the developing world, more Japanese people are opting to use reusable bottles and bags. The total amount of plastics combusted in MSW in 2018 was 5.6 million tons. archipelago occupied by mountains, and much of the rest crowded with people, The out of sight, out of mind Of the 8.91 million tons of plastic waste Japan generated in 2018, 4.62 million… “We don’t know if (the plastic) is being recycled properly in ways that don’t affect people’s health in the process,” she says. Ms. Ishizaka says she wants to make the nation Japan's love of plastic and packaging is posing a problem for the town's goal of going waste free. But in reality, the plastic waste problem will continue to grow unless people change their behaviors by, for example, refusing to buy products packaged in plastic. How plastic waste is processed remains extremely variable from country to country, and recycling remains considerably under-used. supermarket, laundry services, drug store, DIY store) charge plastic Jono argues the solution isn’t to create alternative biodegrable plastics, but to think of ways of eliminating the use of plastics altogether. The plastics recycling rate in Japan has increased from levels of 73% in 2006 and 39% in 1996. cost-first mentality – among both consumers and manufacturers – is central to there is little room for landfill, so what cannot be recycled whether yurui activism will be enough to popularize the 3Rs The challenge is making people Japan registered 77% plastic recycling rate in 2010. Welcome to installment XXIII (November 2020) of Sino-Japanese Review, a monthly column on major developments in relations between China and Japan that... Less than two months after issuing a state of emergency, former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared victory over COVID-19. Japan has made efforts to cut down on plastic waste since it enacted a law in 1991 that put the responsibility for recycling packaging on businesses. national policies that fail to reflect a climate emergency, discussion on against local produce. But it is still a necessary approach, and in a society that claims The plastics recycling rate in Japan has increased from levels of 73% in 2006 and 39% in 1996. factory has very successfully attracted locals and parents looking for The US knocks them both out of the park, using an estimated 100 billion bags each year. Several types of polymers are recycled there: LDPE (low-density polyethylene), PS (polystyrene) and PP (polypropylene). this burning produces exhaust fumes that contribute to climate change, while There are designated days for throwing out food waste, plastics, glass bottles and aluminum cans. Japan’s current recycling rate already compares favorably with those of Europe (41.8%) and the US (20.1%). disposed as how they are made. Single bananas. She cites examples of supermarkets selling rice and beans in dispensers, allowing people to bring their own containers and decide how much they want to buy. Washington’s Role in the Delicate China-Japan Balance, Japan Needs a New Path for Womenomics and Gender Equality, Leading from the Kantei: Japan and the Quad. father. On the local level, some places in Japan have been taking action to reduce the use of plastics. For example, in 2019, 7-Eleven Holdings announced it was switching out the plastic wrapping around their rice balls with a plant-based alternative. Over the last two decades, the household waste recycling rate in England has increased significantly from just 11.2 percent to almost 50 percent. How plastic waste is processed remains extremely variable from country to country, and recycling remains considerably under-used. This is much higher than the recycling rate for PET in Japan which is 72.1%, Europe which recycles 48.3% and the US where just 31% is recycled and reused. All opinions expressed in articles on Tokyo Review are those of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Tokyo Review, the Asia Pacific Initiative, or any other partner organization. According to EPA reports, 2.1 million tons of plastic waste was recycled in 2008. The nation also recycled 72 percent of its PET bottles in 2010, more than doubling the U.S. recycling total of 29 percent, according to the article. It is difficult to gauge All opinions expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect the institutional position of Asia Pacific Initiative. Neuhauss runs her business of providing stainless straws as an alternative to plastic straws in addition to her full-time job at a PR company. On the one hand, developed economies with regulations that encourage it have recycling rates around 30%. Japan wants collective action to tackle the ocean plastic crisis at next week’s G-20 summit, although the country still has an obsession with plastic packaging. educational daytrips, the question remains whether the initiative can in a country that is still coming to grips with the scale of its waste problem. ammunition to promote green consciousness. However, it’s important to note that this … Recycling rate = 24.8％, Recycling & Recovery rate = 81.6％ CO2 emission (mainly incineration): 18 million tons (60% of waste sector) [Recycling/treatment] Material Flow of Plastics in Japan [Case study] • 9 industries (incl. The town recycled about 80.7% of the 301 tons of household waste it produced 2019, according to the local council, which is much higher than the national average of 20%, according to data from the OECD. Japan recycled 498,000 tonnes of PET bottles in fiscal 2017 and of the 89,000 tonnes of PET resin that was unaccounted for, most was probably recycled in any case according to the Japan Soft Drink Association, but not reported. In a supply-demand market, this kind of Japan’s official plastics recycling rate is 84%, according to the Plastic Waste Management Institute, a group financed by manufacturers including polyvinyl chloride maker Shin-Etsu Chemical, Japan’s largest chemical company. When people sort their plastic waste and throw it out, they assume it is turned into a new plastic product, says Jono. Have you even thought of plastic recycling in Taiwan? “This would encourage retailers to rethink their packaging,” says Yu. The aim is to reduce the volume of waste and improve the quality of the plastics processed. Local-level, bottom-up solutions are just as necessary as national-level policy approaches. For Ishizaka, that means opening up the factory overlooking the giant processing floor. transition from operating simple waste incinerators to more complex material still looks to be a Sisyphean task in Japan. According to one set of data, the average global recycling rate is 14%. See our Sustainable Materials Management web area for relevant information and our … Contests & Promotions, Â© 2020, NPG of Texas, L.P. El Paso, TX USA, AP FACT CHECK: Trump floods rally with groundless grievances, The Latest: Trump urges backers to ‘take revenge’ by voting, Tens of millions in California under stay-at-home order starting Sunday night. Japan tend to prioritize price mindful of the waste flows in everyday life. Like many groups tackling the growing problems But Japan’s deep reliance on plastic doesn’t end with wrapping single items. The plastic recycling picture is a bit more complicated. On the other hand, developing economies with a minimal industrial base have recycling rates close to 0%. EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. Severe Weather among the average consumer, let alone spark the kind of change groups like This is twice the rate of UK and 20% higher than the United States. On the Ecos Factory and Green Loop sites in Honjo and Kikukawa respectively, Veolia sorts the plastic waste from the surrounding municipalities and turns it into top-quality pellets. solutions are just as necessary as national-level policy ones. businesses like Ishizaka Group to minimize combustibles and increase recycling. From the above numbers, we see that the average overall recycling rate … Steel cans are also recycled at a higher rate in Japan, 92.9% in 2013, than anywhere else in the world. reuse, recycle – at the heart of its waste strategy. In 1960, Americans generated 2.68 pounds of garbage per day; by 2017, it had grown to an average of 4.51 pounds. 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