Every minute, the Earth is facing more and more problems. One of the prominent problems nowadays is plastic waste. Plastic waste is dangerous; It needs hundreds of years to decompose, can clog up rivers, disturb the natural ecosystem, and even when burned, it will result in an imperfect combustion process and turn into carcinogenic material in the air, which can cause fatal diseases to human.
However, the ever-increasing demand of plastic made it hard to solve this problem. Then, what we can do? This post will list 7 programs done by Japan to reduce plastic problems and things that we can also do ourselves.
- Suginami Ward Plastic Tax
Suginami Ward introduces a plastic shopping bag tax as a way of reducing the burden on the environment while increasing revenues. A study on how to introduce such a tax proposed that about 5 yen (about 4 US cents) per plastic bag should be collected from retailers for a five-year period. It also suggests that the money collected should be used to promote waste reduction and recycling.According to Suginami Ward, the plastic bag tax system will encourage residents to bring their own shopping bags to stores and increase their awareness of the need for a more eco-friendly lifestyle. The ward also notes that such a tax system will lead to reductions in the overall consumption of petroleum as well as in the cost of waste management through a reduction in the amount of discarded plastic bag garbage – now 1,500 to 1,700 tons per year.
- My Bag Day / No Plastic Day
Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture and Sayama City in Osaka Prefecture have adopted campaigns such as a monthly “My Bag Day” or a “No Plastic Bag Day” to encourage city residents not to use the plastic bags offered by stores. Some of these campaigns have actually led to significant reductions of plastic bag use in these communities.
- Green Donation
In Kochi Prefecture, there is a unique program to link plastic bag reduction to forest preservation. Kochi Prefecture Green & Forest, an incorporated association dedicated to forest conservation, introduced a scheme in which participating shops donate the amount of money saved by not providing plastic bags to customers to the association’s fund, called “Green Donation.” In the scheme, whenever shoppers refuse a plastic bag, the cashier gives them a point on a stamp card; once the stamp card is full, shoppers voluntarily put it into a designated donation box at the store. The amount that the shop gives to the Green Donation scheme is calculated from the number of points on the stamp cards.
- Recycle tote bag
Sapporo City and the local Lions Club designed and distributed special tote bags to encourage people to carry recyclables to market with them when they go shopping. Many supermarkets collect styrofoam trays, paper milk cartons, plastic grocery bags and even empty cans.
- Citizen pay off
In Kumamoto City, Kyushu, the city has been paying registered citizen groups 3 yen/kg for collecting paper, glass, cans, etc. The 586 registered groups collected over 7300 tons in the ten month period ending last June. In addition, since the program’s introduction, the city’s regular recycling collection service has experienced a 20% jump in volume. Officials feel the program has been successful not only in reducing waste but in changing the public’s awareness regarding recycling.
- Waste Exchange
As of 1991 there were fourteen industrial waste exchanges in Japan, the first one having been established in Kanagawa prefecture in 1987. Hokkaido came on line with it’s program last year and already has had over 1000 inquiries. The exchange, a prefecture-sponsored project, publishes a booklet twice a year and provides a telephone referral service.
- Waste Reduction
Aichi prefecture has joined the ranks of government entities forming Garbage Reduction Commissions. The Aichi version is made up of various local governments and citizen groups and plans to undertake at least five different projects including: utilization of collected household recyclables, litter, especially empty cans, appropriate dispasal methods for large garbage items, and using special garbage bags.
Aside from the above programs, Japan also has various laws regarding recycling, such as:
- Law for the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging – enforced in April 1997 by the Ministry of Environment
- Home Appliance Recycling Law – enacted June 1998, enforced April 2001
- Construction material recycling law – enacted May 2000
- Food Recycling Law
- End-of-life Vehicle Recycling Law
- Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources – enacted May 2000, enforced April 2001
As we can see, there are already many programs, but if we see it further, none of them would work well without our participation.
What else we can do to help reduce the plastic and waste problems?
- Bring reusable bag if you want to shopping. So, you don’t need plastic bag to carry your goods.
- Reduce trash by make handicraft from waste.
- Buy and use handycraft creation. It is good, cheap, and help to reduce waste in our environment.
- Reuse blank papers for counting, drawing, etc.
- Bring your own drinking water. So you not buy drinking water anymore. Drinking water that you buy leave bottle trash.
- Use plastic bags that can still be used.
- Rather than discarded , it’d be better to donate unused textbooks to underprivileged children.
I hope this post can inspire us to begin saving the environment from ourselves. Because if all of us only wait for someone else, nothing will change!