More local govts to expand plastic waste collection

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — More local governments are preparing to start collecting a wider range of discarded plastic items from households, following the April 1 enforcement of the plastic resources recycling promotion law.

They will newly collect discarded plastics such as buckets and hangers as recyclable resources, in addition to plastic containers that local governments already collect, including food trays.

The expansion is expected to help reduce plastic waste and the emissions of carbon dioxide from incineration at a time when marine plastic waste and global warming are becoming serious problems.

Under the law, municipalities must make efforts to collect and recycle a wide range of discarded plastic products separately from other waste.

Some local governments have already widened the range of plastic waste collection and recycling. The number of such entities is expected to rise.

Tokyo’s Kita Ward, which used to treat discarded plastics as burnable waste, started collecting a wider range of discarded plastics once a week in some areas in October last year. The measure will be spread throughout the ward from April 2023.

According to the ward government, many residents responded positively to the change.

“After the nationwide introduction of fees for disposable plastic shopping bags, interest in the plastic waste issue seems to have increased,” an official said.

In Kita Ward, about 3,500 tons of discarded plastics are expected to be collected annually. The ward government plans to spend ¥620 million annually on collection and transportation, intermediate processing and outsourcing to recycling companies.

Among other Tokyo wards, Shibuya ward office plans to start collecting a wider range of discarded plastics in July this year.

In Miyagi Prefecture, the Sendai city government plans to shift to such a collection method in April 2023.

The Miyagi capital, which collects plastic containers separately from long ago, decided on the move after a demonstration project to collect plastic containers along with other discarded plastics between fiscal 2020 and 2021.

The Sendai government received comments from many residents that it has become easy to sort plastic waste at home.

The Okayama municipal government aims to start collecting a wider range of discarded plastics in March 2024.

The city forecasts that if 8,000 tons of plastics are recycled annually instead of being incinerated, CO2 emissions can be reduced by about 17,500 tons, equivalent to the annual emissions from 6,000 households.

The cities of Kawasaki, Fukuoka and Kitakyushu will carry out demonstration projects within fiscal 2022 to see whether they should adopt such plastics collection methods.

The central government will provide special grants to help local governments cover costs associated with plastics collection and recycling.

“We hope [local governments] will use the state financial support” to promote recycling of plastic items, said an Environment Ministry official.