TOKYO: Japan’s Environment Ministry has decided on a new initiative to support companies and nonprofit organizations that start cleanup events and introduce services to reduce single-use plastic products, as part of its fight against marine plastic waste, Jiji Press has learned.
The ministry will offer aid for such private-sector efforts that are made in cooperation with local governments in hopes of heightening the country’s momentum toward reducing marine plastic waste, according to informed sources.
Costs for the initiative will be included in the ministry’s budget request for fiscal 2021. The ministry will invite municipalities and firms with business plans and event ideas that may lead to the reduction of plastic waste and help them implement the proposed programs at several locations in the country in the fiscal year that will start next April.
Most of marine plastic waste is believed to be rubbish discarded on the streets or plastic shopping bags and containers blown away by the wind that ended up in the ocean through river channels. Some studies have shown that around 80 percent of marine plastic waste is rubbish that was generated 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 on the beaches or into the sea. Only 60 percent knew that such waste also come from the streets, farmlands and rivers, according to the survey.
In order to get more people involved in the marine plastic waste issue, the Environment Ministry will support companies and NPOs that launch projects to combat such waste from fiscal 2021, sending experts to those entities so that they will be able to give advice on turning such efforts into sustainable businesses or events, for example.
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 on the amount of garbage they picked up.
For actions against disposable plastic products, some firms have started umbrella sharing services in hopes to cut down on the use of plastic umbrellas, while others have developed smartphone apps that allow people to find stores where they can buy drinks to fill up their 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 up projects to develop products using materials that can replace plastic.