Plastic waste overflows after China’s import ban
Japan still little aware of serious impact


As environmental pollution caused by plastic waste becomes serious, Japan’s awareness still remains in low gear. Japan opposed the “Ocean Plastics Charter” for the regulation of marine plastic waste jointly proposed by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Canada at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, in June 2018. The Japanese government cited “impacts on people’s lives and industry” as the reason for its opposition. However, Japan needs to address the issue with a sense of urgency.

The world has been forced to take the mater seriously since China enforced an import ban on plastic waste in January 2017. Before then, Japan, the United States and Europe had exported much of their plastic waste to China at low prices instead of treating it at home. According to a survey by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), an NPO based inBrussels, plastic waste brought into China in 2016 amounted to 7.3 million tons, accounting for 56% of the global total. Japan and Western countries are now faced with a crisis posed by overflowing plastic waste as a result of the Chinese ban.

In October 2018, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment polled the country’s 47 prefectures and core municipalities which oversee their waste disposers on “the impact of the Chinese import ban”. The survey found that about one quarter of them replied their stocked plastic waste grew in volume as compared to that before China’s embargo. This clearly indicates that the impact of plastic waste that has lost its place due to the embargo is steadily spreading.

Japan’s discharge of plastic waste is the second largest in the world after the United States. The government needs to change its mind if it is really concerned about “the impacts on the people’s lives and industry”.

 (Written by: Yuta Uchino)







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