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Kanagawa Pref. puts machines in sea to collect plastic waste at Olympic sailing venue

A machine to collect trash including plastic waste from oceans is seen in this photo provided by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government.

FUJISAWA, Kanagawa -- Machines to collect plastic waste have been placed in the waters off the Port of Shonan (Enoshima Yacht Harbor) by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government, in a bid to clean up the venue for the sailing event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The move comes as the prefectural government intends to increase efforts to tackle the problem of plastic trash in oceans, which is receiving global attention. In September 2018, the prefectural government also announced a goal of eliminating all plastic rubbish by 2030 in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.

The problem of plastic garbage in the sea -- which breaks up into microplastic pieces measuring 5 millimeters or smaller -- is expected to be a major topic of discussion at the June 15 and 16 meeting of the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations. The Japanese government adopted an action plan to reduce plastic waste on May 31.

The new trash collecting device works by pumping up garbage floating in waters off the port in the city of Fujisawa into a net inside the device. The machine can gather rubbish, including microplastics that measure 2 millimeters or bigger. The prefectural government launched full-scale operations of two machines on May 30, marking the equipment's first full-scale use in Japan.

In an earlier test run, a machine collected 12 kilograms of trash over a 10-day period, of which 400 grams were plastics and artificial objects.

"We will make proper use of the machine to lead to the success of the Olympic Games," stated Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa, who presented a letter of appreciation to people involved with the project, including the equipment developer, at the prefectural government office on May 31.

(Japanese original by Junya Higuchi, Yokohama Bureau)

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