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Japanese businesses required to review single-use plastics usage from April

Some of the single-use plastic items that businesses will be required to review distribution methods of under the plastic resource recycling promotion law are seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 14, 2022. (Mainichi/Ai Oba)

TOKYO -- Businesses in Japan will be required to review their use of single-use plastic items from April, following a Jan. 14 Cabinet decision on the enforcement order related to the newly enacted plastic recycling promotion law.

    Twelve items including plastic forks, spoons and hangers will be designated "products using specified plastics." From April, businesses including supermarkets and other retail stores, restaurants, hotels and dry cleaners will have to set targets for reducing the products and review distribution of them. This also applies to take-out businesses.

    Each business can decide how it conducts the review. The Ministry of the Environment has said that in addition to charging extra for the items, operators will be allowed to give points to customers declining the items, encourage their repeated usage such as returning them to the store, and use products made from recycled plastic.

    Businesses subject to the law will have to announce online and via other media their reduction target and the amount of specified plastic products they distributed in the previous fiscal year. Authorities including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will confirm the efforts of businesses that annually use 5 metric tons or more of the 12 items, and if their efforts are judged "significantly inadequate," the government will release the names of the businesses and issue them recommendations or orders.

    The enforcement order also stipulates a new standard for separating plastic waste in household garbage. Until now, the containers and packaging recycling law has required that plastic packaging such as bento box containers be collected separately, and other plastic waste's handling differed by municipality. In future, plastic products such as hangers and stationery items with one side measuring less than 50 centimeters will be collectable at once with plastic products and packaging.

    (Japanese original by Mayumi Nobuta, Science & Environment News Department)

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