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Gov't panel begins discussions to slash plastic waste

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I hope they are serious about implementing this, but am doubtful. I would love to see photos of the meeting room, and what is on the table - I wonder how much single-use plastic is used for their stationery and their refreshments.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

A panel member pointed out that Japan is slow to introduce measures.....

NO!!!!! REALLY!?!?!?!...You gotta be kidding me! I'm shocked!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Any news item that involves a “government panel” can’t be good

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Of course Japan is last to take action but at least they are doing something.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Oh oh

i get the feeling this is going to cost ME money.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Here's a start; Make MY BAG mandatory for all grocery store shoppers. If the stores don't provide bags, people will bring their own.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Of course Japan is last to take action but at least they are doing something.

No they haven't done anything yet, besides spend taxpayers money to talk about the problem. If that's doing something, I prefer them not to!

Here's a start; Make MY BAG mandatory for all grocery store shoppers. If the stores don't provide bags, people will bring their own.

Most places already have, they charge ¥3 for a bag. What they could do is raise that to ¥10 per bag and folks would change. Hit their pocket books and people will adjust!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The subcommittee is chaired by Shinichi Sakai, a professor of Kyoto University, and includes stakeholders such as the Japan Plastics Industry Federation.

Boom, there it is.

i get the feeling this is going to cost ME money.

Yep, the government will start giving financial assistance to all plastics makers inconvenienced by the mandated reductions in plastic use. From tax money, of course!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I love how the article is sprinkled with how Japan can lead the world in this one moment and then also admit its not doing its part the next.

Which is it guys?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I’m not seeing how it couldn’t be both.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love how the article is sprinkled with how Japan can lead the world in this one moment and then also admit its not doing its part the next.

Which is it guys?

I'd say they are not doing their part but they could lead the world.

I am inclined to follow some other posters though in that I feel sometimes having discussion panels is all that is ever done. Japan does seem to have a lot of discussion panels. I guess at least it is a realization that there is a problem.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Ban microbeads now.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I had no idea that even toothpastes had microbeads- actually, the toothpaste that I use now has kind of that rough microbead texture, and I bet that it's using them. Suppose it's time to find a new toothpaste.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It starts with educating the consumer that more wrapping of a product does not alter its intrinsic value.....

9 ( +9 / -0 )

While I was in college, I worked at a grocery store meat counter as long as a highway bus. 90% of the meat was sold there. We packed nothing in styrofoam, paper only. These days, even the self serve baked goods have large styrofoam trays for people to use, when a hard paper tray would work just fine, but don't forget to set your aircons at 28*. Having said that, when I go to the beaches here, I don't see grocery store meat or plastic sushi trays, I see plastic bottles from oil to Udon tea to Pepsi. There was a show I saw maybe a year ago of a Japanese guy who would squba or snorkel along the coast just picking up plastic bottles on the sea floor.

I buy my milk in a paper container, why not everything else?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The amount of plastic waste in supermarkets alone would kill off a small ocean. Why does a head of lettuce need to be wrapped in plastic? Also I constantly fighting with my wife about putting all meat packs that are already wrapped in saran, into another plastic bag, just in case it might leak into the other plastic bag all the food is put into! There needs to be better education regarding plastic and its harmfulness here in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh boy they're going to have a meeting! Lots and lots of meetings! They'll be able to point to all the meetings they've had. Action though? Who are they kidding?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

TOP 20 COUNTRIES RANKED BY MASS OF MISMANAGED PLASTIC WASTE

https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/06/top-20-countries-ranked-by-mass-of-mismanaged-plastic-waste/

China tops the list. The only major industrial nation that makes the list is the US which comes in at 20. Indonesian, Vietnam and the Philippines are 2, 3, and 4. Japan is not even on it. So maybe the panel will discuss how to get their Asian neighbors to start making plastic sea waste a priority. I hope. Maybe someone should write the panel a letter or two. Do they do that here? Is it taken seriously?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan's use of plastics is extremely excessive and is deeply ingrained into the culture. I cannot see how they will change anything. After cooking three meals a day I end up with a ten liter bag full of plastic and poly styrene every day. The use of polystyrene foam is also excessive. A good example is, nutto. It's promoted as a very healthy food, but always comes in a poly styrene container. Sadly, I fear this panel is just a dog and pony show to appease the masses and will have no positive outcome to reduce over-use of plastics in Japan.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Plastics are made from petrochemical elements which the oil companies (most in USA) produced a lot at the affiliates/ joint ventures co. ,etc... So, plastic products can be reusable, recyclable and recoverable materials by 2030 according to this column. And the part described "When plastic items are dumped in the ocean, they become microplastics after being broken down by waves and ultraviolet rays." won't be a resolution for ocean pollution as much the lives there from bacterias to fish will swallow the microplastics apparently not visible but still harmful. One of the biggest issue at the same time are the boats/ships throwing down wastes including plastic ones. Must to prohibit to take the plastic on board. "Plastic can be converted into petrol, diesel and other hydrocarbons." that can be fuel again. Targeting 2030, for sure, should be converted and not recycled ( not even to recycled bioplastics.) One of the biggest issue at the same time are the boats and ships throwing down to water wastes including plastic materials. Must to prohibit to take the plastic on board by 2030.

My conclusive vision of no plastic materials after 2030 should be, e.g.: bioplastic shopping bags derived from sugarcane and all plastic materials to be exchanged to biochemical non-petrol products. It will help out to clean the land and waters, still remaining the air pollution, the next task for us, the humanity and all lives without pollution.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

All we need to do is banish plastic straws... like Starbucks... and then we should all buy stuff at Starbucks and nowhere else.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

They are working on sugar based bottles where it dissolves.... same thing to be applied to temporary grocery bags.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reusable shopping bags are not the answer; there are serious health concerns with them and the amount of energy required to sterilize them after every use is enormous. Even virtue-signalling Canada recommends that shoppers place food items such as fruit, vegetables, meet and dairy products in separate plastic bags before going to the check out and putting the items in reusable bags. Single use paper bags are a good solution. I am guessing that most "single-use" plastic bags in Japan are reused to hold household waste and burned in incinerators to create electricity.

A bottle deposit of all cans and bottles, in particular PET bottles would go a long way to ensure they end up in a recycling program after use.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japan has a very good waste collection & sorting system, but it's initial use of materials is high especially plastics. Reducing the usage to start with will result in less waste to be disposed of.

Also many people will be surprised that aside from PET bottles and other major "polys", still a considerable amount of plastics are incinerated with other garbage. This is especially so in the case of household waste. Furnace technology has improved as has dioxin reducing processes etc, but the amount burnt still is high.

As Japan is often called an over-wrapping society, it is inevitable that large amounts of these materials will not be re-cycled and be simply burnt.

Reducing the "hard-to-recover" plastics (wrap, bags etc) is the only way forward.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why is this still a thing? I've been carrying my own shopping bags for 20 years - and they're getting heavy... Seriously, everryone in Japan used furoshiki until the 60's. Outlaw plastic bags, complain to stores that give them away.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Ha Nemui

Discussion panels are good, but as a Japanese I feel like we often just grab at a superiority complex that’s easy to grab onto. Whenever Japan talks about its problems in the news, I notice we often will throw in that we are world leaders or master in expertise on something, and that’s a human trait that shows you are just defending yourself or saying that something isn’t a problem because everyone else does it too.

Disiiluioned

True Japan uses a lot of plastic, but I don’t think it’s just because it’s Japan.

Theres a lot of people here, and it’s extremely industrialized in the cities and the convinience store boom in the last 20 years made it worse. However when I go to Thailand, NYC, or London, I don’t end up with less plastic in my trash can at the end of the day.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It still shocks me the amount of plastic packaging here. I always feel guilty at the amount I have to throw away. I've carried my own bags for as long as I can remember. It takes no effort. I cannot understand why most people can't be bothered to do the same. Even my take-out Subway sandwiches goes in my own bag. And the vast majority of people can get along fine with drinking straws.

Japan will be the last country on this planet to do anything. Poorer countries have done much more.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

> @thepersoniamnow - Disiiluioned -True Japan uses a lot of plastic, but I don’t think it’s just because it’s Japan.

But, the article is about Japan. Furthermore, Japan does have a culture of over-wrapping everything in plastic! If you buy a pack of cookies, which are all unnecessarily individually wrapped, you end up with a pile of plastic much larger than the amount of cookies. The same goes for chocolates and some candies. Then, there are the souvenirs at train stations. Pay attention next time you go into a supermarket. Over 90% of products are either wrapped in plastic or come in plastic packaging. I am very conservative about the amount of plastics I buy and conscientious about separating all plastics from household waste. However, it is unavoidable due to how common the use of plastics is. The real irony is, I separate my plastics and they are then put into another plastic bag for disposal. I agree that plastic shopping bags should be phased out. Many people already use reusable bags at supermarkets, myself included. However, supermarkets are not the only place that provide plastic bags. The convenience stores probably give out more plastic bags than supermarkets. Then, add home centers, pharmacies, department stores, boutiques, take out foods, just about every shop you go into will give a plastic bag to carry your goods. Everything comes in plastic! Unfortunately, there are very few alternatives at present. It requires a conscious effort by every company and individual on the planet to reduce the use of plastics.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

We all could do much better. Excessive wrapping in Japan, billions of disposable coffee cups in the west, plastic water bottles pretty much everywhere, straws, the whole 'takeaway' culture etc. Truth is, ppl are quick to point fingers at others yet often don't realise they're also part of the problem.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

At the end of the day, since we are humans, I don’t believe in the “we are all responsible” route.

Humans are not like, what is everyones job becomes nobodys job. The companies that make billions mass producing products should be spending tens of millions to clean it up.

I think thats the only way, as holding nobody accountable is apparantly killing the planet.

Comes down to the age old money - power dilemma that we greedy humans will always struggle with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most supermarkets now have a default rule where they only provide bags when you specifically ask for one and pay a surcharge. That small change in behavior probably reduced plastic use a significant amount from that source.

The worst retailers now are the conbinis, which just drown you in unnecessary plastic with every purchase unless you go out of your way to stop them. It is absolutely infuriating. Buy a little carton of juice and they will put it in a bag, add a straw, and throw in a moist towel wrapped in plastic before you even have a chance to object. All useless, and a lot of that ends up in rivers. They need to be regulated to stop that as they are clearly incapable of doing anything themselves.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why , another " expert panel to hold multiple meetings for months and months on end to discuss basic stuff that should be decided and mandated by the Environment Ministry without the ridiculous waste of tax money on yet another oyaji filled panel.

Council aims to draw up a draft strategy involving numerical goals by the end of this year.

Wow...even just a draft is taking them half a year to do...so maybe the final version will be handed down by 2020 ( since the Olympics seems to be a favorite deadline so Japan can boast about how " on the roll" it is. )

"To lead the world in tackling the plastic waste issue, I expect the panel to compile an effective strategy," Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said at the meeting.

Lead the world? What is Masaharu smoking ? .... look at other " advanced countries " you like to compare yourself with...you are years behind the curve. ... like anything else J govt bureaucracy gets involved in.....even snails move at a blistering speed compared to the bureaucracy and all their " expert panels here.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@browny1

Also many people will be surprised that aside from PET bottles and other major "polys", still a considerable amount of plastics are incinerated with other garbage. This is especially so in the case of household waste. Furnace technology has improved as has dioxin reducing processes etc, but the amount burnt still is high.

As Japan is often called an over-wrapping society, it is inevitable that large amounts of these materials will not be re-cycled and be simply burnt.

Actually, in many cases, that is also classified as recycling. It's known, among other names, as "waste-to-energy" or "(advanced) thermal recycling".

Whatever else you think of it, it does have the advantage of keeping plastics out of the waterways and the sea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Japanese food companies seem to over-wrap everything. I need to open three layers of plastic just to get to my one little cookie. They should start with not over-wrapping everything.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But the legislation lacks penalties for those not complying.

And there we have it. Just like other Japanese legislation that has no teeth. I suspect nothing will change.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan is the world's biggest importer of pulp for paper, so I would like government panels to consider that when churning out huge documents that merely "consider" reducing plastic.

I agree that microbeads should be banned. I would also make moves toward replacing all PET bottles up to 500ml with ones made of aluminium. Aluminium bottles exist already for certain drinks. Aluminium cans are worth about 1.5 yen each, enough to make them a resource with a far higher collection rate than PET bottles.

One publicized use of recycled PET bottles is clothing like fleeces, but manmade fleeces release hundreds of microfibers when washed. Like microbeads, these cannot be filtered out and end up in the ocean and its wildlife.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's 'leading from behind' and teach the world how to do it!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The picture used for the article is quite unique in that fruits and vegetables appear to be unwrapped, lying open individually on the shop stalls. Most shops would have their goods wrapped in film on plastic trays, then placed in plastic carrier bags.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan wants to "help developing countries tackle the issue"? How, when Japan is one of the world's worst plastic polluters? Actually, Japan ought to be studying how some of the developing world is actually miles ahead on this issue. Just look at Kenya's total plastic bag ban for example.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

i get the feeling this is going to cost ME money.

oh itll cost you money, plastic companies will bribe oops donate to local governments to make it compulsory for all citizens to sort their plastics into separate piles, because its more profitable to get the public to sort if for free than to pay somebody to do it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hey, Japan,

what about not forcing us to pay for two+ different garbage bags at the store for the high price that they are, and instead let us use the bags we receive at the supermarkets for trash.

By the current system, you are already over-producing plastic bags because of this ineffective system. Let the convenience stores and supermarkets, who sell the plastic, pay a tax instead. Don't force it on the consumers. We never asked for any of this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wipeout - thanks for that.

Yes I know that the industry calls burning "recycling" as one of the 3 recycling processes mechanical recycling, chemical recycling & thermal recycling.

And by burning to produce heat to produce electricity is certainly keeping it out of the environment as you said.

The problem of air borne pollutants (dioxins, pm2.5s etc) impact on the environment is limited by the quality controls of the incineration process. Very high temperatures, filtering and toxin catching systems can be very effective, but if they are not up to scratch (ie constantly monitored, checked, maintained...) then we have the non-visible degradation of the environment (land, sea, air, plants, animals, humans) with disastrous results.

I suspect very high-temp incineration will be the industry norm in the future for difficult to re-form plastics. I know I never want to live near an incinerator.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Please do, I live in a city with strict garbage code, yet just a stone throw away is another city with very laxed garbage code. I could just pick my garbage and put it at the next city's collection point, it's pretty stupid.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the UK I think they banned these cheap single use bags, but supper markets started charging 5p for the better quality bags that can be used numerous times, every one moaned about the 5p charge but we have now sort of accepted it, as a nation we have to change our attitude towards these plastics, it can't carry on just using and chucking these bags, plastic wrappers away. I would like to think that a international comity, could be sent up to monitor what countries are doing and have the power to fine those under preforming countries, and also give them some expert help so they can achieve them, as for Japan having its own panel, we it still needs to be over seen by another external commits/body, lets face it could Japan handle another allegation of manipulating data figures?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I couldn't believe a local shop gave the lady ahead of me a discount for bringing her own bag, but put EVERY SINGLE ITEM in smaller clear bags! She had like 8 or 9 bags in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHERE'S THE MESSAGE?????!!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"I hope they are serious about. implementing this, but am doubtful. I would love to see photos of the meeting room, and what is on the table -"

I suspect it would look as bad as 1,000's of people flying into a climate change meeting halfway around the world instead of using teleconferencing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Easy to start by merely,

banning plastic bags

banning over wrapping of food items, especially fruit and vegetables

reducing Japanese dependence on drinks from PET bottles. I can't believe people buy ready made tea and water to take home.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hha another govt discussion panel that'll achieve...a white paper maybe?

Could always, you know, have all stores charge 20 yen per plastic bag and what not, but that's too easy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One: Convenience stores need to up their game - the number of plastic bags, used and unused straws plus their wrappers, used and unused hand wipes plus wrappers, and empty food packets, that I find strewn on the ground and stuffed into bushes, is shameful. They need to stop giving this stuff out as a default.

Two: Bakeries need to stop the multi-wrapping, and customers need to stop demanding it. I still have to debate with cashiers about whether I really am sure I don't need baked goods wrapping, when I have already proudly presented my special bread bag.

Three: The manufacturers need to stop with individually-wrapped everythings, and again, customers need to stop expecting it. Your sweeties and biscuits do not need to be individually wrapped.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Australia, I went to a burger shop that had paper straws.

They worked fine, and didn't get soggy (which is what I was worried about), but I also didn't like it. Can't really explain why, but it just felt weird. Maybe I'd get used to them over time though - I'd rather be nicer to our planet than use plastic straws.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More public water fountains = less plastic bottle usage

More incentives for bringing reusable bags = less plastic bags

Less products individually wrapped inside a wrapper inside another wrapper

Less staff at conbini's and grocery stores putting single items in plastic bags

... the legislation lacks penalties for those not complying.

And how about laws that have teeth, instead of polite suggestions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've said it before but a good start is to train the store clerks to be more thoughtful with their use of plastic bags. However, it's also ridiculous the amount of plastic waste you end up with when buying stuff for lunch from supermarkets etc in this country.

Whenever I've been to the beach this summer I've picked up any plastic rubbish I've walked by but there's way too much out there in general, it's pretty sad so I do hope they are serious.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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