Japan’s plastic bulimia ecology-proof

Individually packaged bento boxes and bananas, plastic reigns supreme in Japan. But faced with calls all over the world to fight against the culture of all-disposable, the archipel finally takes hold, timidly, of the subject.
C ette awareness occurs before the G20 summit to be held in Osaka in June 2019. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to convince his associates to commit to reducing the pollution of oceans by plastic.

Last year, however, Japan refused to sign a G7 charter to that effect. It must be said that it is far from being exemplary: according to the United Nations, it generates more plastic waste per capita than any other country in the world with the exception of the United States, which also abstained .

At the Ministry of the Environment, it is recognized that “there is room to reduce this volume”. “We are looking at ways to achieve this,” said Kentaro Doi, case manager.

In 2018, the government put forward a proposal to reduce by 25% by 2030 the volume discarded annually, currently by 9.4 million tonnes.

Japan is thinking of forcing businesses to charge plastic bags to their customers, a device already in force in dozens of countries.
Japan is thinking of forcing businesses to charge plastic bags to their customers, a device already in force in dozens of countries.

Main measure envisaged: to force businesses to charge plastic bags to their customers, a device already in force in dozens of countries, many of which have outright banned their use. In France, for example, fine packaging, which can not be reused and takes several hundred years to degrade, has been banned since 2016.

“We are going to give plastic value. We want people to wonder if it is really necessary to use these bags, “says Doi, acknowledging that Japan is lagging behind. In the best case, the new legislation “will be introduced in 2020,” he says.

“Some decided to go shopping elsewhere. It is high time the government put this system in place at the national level. ”
– Haruko Kanamaru, Head of Aeon Social Responsibility Division

In addition, there are no plans at the moment to limit other types of disposable plastics, such as straws or cups.

In front of the slowness of the authorities, certain municipalities take things in hand. The city of Kamikatsu, near Kyoto, has pledged to eliminate all plastic waste by 2020, while the former imperial capital is asking big box stores to charge for the bags.

Companies are also mobilizing, such as the Aeon distributor who, since November 2013, no longer distributes free bags to customers of its 1631 large supermarkets.

“Most understand the purpose of this measure and bring their own, and if they forget, they are willing to pay a small amount” (5 yen or $ 0.06 CAN) for a biodegradable bag, says Haruko Kanamaru, head of the social responsibility division of Aeon.

“About 80% of customers” come with their bags, she says.

According to the group’s estimates, the implementation of this measure has saved 270 million plastic bags in 2017, although it is still possible to use small plastic bags for fruits and vegetables and products free of charge. refrigerated.

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