TOKYO -- Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada announced a plan on Feb. 26 to prohibit exports of dirty plastic waste that cannot be recycled as a general rule.
"Basically we should stop it," said Harada at a press conference. The government plans to revise the relevant ordinances as early as autumn to tighten up regulations on procedures for exporting such waste. The government will also step up its efforts to promote reducing plastic waste and recycling.
Japan and other developed countries cannot recycle all of their plastic waste and have been exporting such trash to Asian countries, including China, which use the recycled waste as low cost materials.
Japan exported about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste in 2017. According to the ministry, among the trash are many dirty items, such as PET bottles containing cigarette butts, heat-insulating materials mixed with small pieces of wood and dirt due to demolition work and home appliances that have not been properly recycled.
The Conference of the Parties on the Basel Convention, which regulates waste moving across borders, will be held in Switzerland from the end of April and an amendment to add dirty plastic to items subject to the convention will be discussed. Japan will approve the move and plans to strengthen regulations such as requesting agreements with trading partners on exports of plastic waste.
(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Igarashi, Science & Environment News Department)