From the Field: Plastic Waste: Stop Killing Our Oceans

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Date Aired: March 29

Japan: Heavy Plastic User, Late to React

The ocean surrounding Japan is also in a critical state from plastic waste. However, Japan has been late to react to the crisis. What measures can be taken?

The nature-filled, beautiful island of Tsushima city in Nagasaki prefecture. We were at a loss for words when we encountered the shoreline covered in garbage. Most of the garbage was plastic waste such as PET bottles, which drifted from Korea and China. Regular clean-ups are not enough before the beach is filled with garbage again. Japan’s beaches too, are not immune to the threat of plastic waste, and the severity of it is more than one can imagine.

Broken down into pieces smaller than 5mm, microplastics are a threat to the ecosystem. According to the Ministry of the Environment, Japan’s seas are victim to 1.72 million pieces of microplastic per 1 square kilometer, amounting to 27 times that of the global average. How did this happen?

In addition to waste drifting to Japan from neighboring countries, Professor Takada pointed out that Japan is responsible for 9 million tons of plastic waste annually.

New technologies are being developed to address the issue.

Bioworks has developed a biodegradable plastic which is broken down with the help of microbes. The product, which is as functional regular plastic, is promising. However…

Due to the high production cost, companies aiming to profit from mass production are not well receiving of cost increases. Plastic has become indispensable in our daily lives. Is there a realistic way to reduce plastic waste?

Initiatives are underway globally to reduce the use of disposable plastic. Government initiatives to ban its representative, plastic bags country-wide are on the rise. On the other hand, Japan, which uses 30 billion plastic bags annually, has not yet passed a law to charge consumers for plastic bags due to backlash from parts of the retail industry etc.

“Stop killing our ocean.” While an effective governmental initiative is desirable, each individual citizen must take measures against this issue.

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