National Action Plan for Marine Plastic Litter (formulated in 2019)
On May 2019, Japan has formulated the “National Action Plan for Marine Plastic Litter.” Focusing on how to prevent outflow of plastic litter to the ocean, this action plan lists effective countermeasures to realize a world without additional pollution by plastic on following 8 fields: 1) Promotion of proper waste management system, 2) Prevention of littering, illegal dumping and unintentional leakage of waste into the oceans, 3) Collection of scattered waste on land, 4) Recovery of plastic litter in the oceans; 5) Innovation in development of alternative materials and conversion to those, 6) Collaboration with stakeholders, 7) International cooperation for promoting measures in developing countries, 8) Survey on actual situations and accumulation of scientific knowledge.
1. Comprehensive promotion of proper waste management system
(1) Comprehensive enforcement of waste collection based on public cooperation for appropriate waste segregation and disposal practice, in accordance with waste management and recycle regulations;
(2) Installation of recycling facilities to increase recycling capability in Japan and improve recycling of polystyrene foam boxes used in fisheries, with updated technology;
(3) Promotion of collection and appropriate treatment of agricultural-generated used plastic in collaboration with related associations;
(4) Promotion of onshore collection and appropriate treatment of plastic wastes, such as used fishing gear to be disposed;
(5) Smooth acceptance of ship-generated waste at ports.
2. Prevention of littering, illegal dumping and unintentional leakage of waste into the ocean
(1) Comprehensive monitoring and crackdown on violations of national laws (waste management law, marine pollution prevention law etc.) and local regulations (littering prevention);
(2) Focused monitoring patrol by national and local government during annual monitoring and patrol event “National illegal disposal monitoring week”;
(3) Support for beverage industry association to install PET bottle collection box beside vending machines aiming for 100% recycling;
(4) Prevention of illegal disposal through river patrols;
(5) Prevention of unintentional leakage of plastics through appropriate use and proper management of fishing gear by fishermen.
3. Collection of scattered waste on land
(1) Further development of clean-up activities for towns, rivers, and beaches by residents and companies (Adapt Program);
(2) Promotion of volunteer support program for road cleaning;
(3) Promotion of clean-up activities and litter collection in cooperation with river administration authorities, local governments, and residents;
(4) Nationwide clean-up event during “Zero Marine Litter Week” symbolized by wearing something blue.
4. Removal of plastic litter from the ocean
(1) Support to collection and treatment of coastal marine litter by local government in accordance with Act on Promoting the Treatment of Marine Debris Affecting the Conservation of Good Coastal Landscapes and Environments to Protect Natural Beauty and Variety (hereafter “Marine Litter Act”);
(2) Promotion of collection of marine litter by fishermen in collaboration with local governments/communities;
(3) Collection of floating marine litter by marine environment improvement vessel in enclosed sea areas, and by port administration authorities in port areas.
5. Innovation through development and conversion of alternative materials
(1) Technological development through public and private partnership based on “Roadmap for Popularizing Development and Introduction of Marine Biodegradable Bio-based Plastics”;
(2) Support for project to promote substitute materials such as biodegradable plastic and paper, for products including fishing gear;
(3) Promotion of development of marine biodegradable plastic especially for fishing gear that does not necessarily require high durability and strength such as some parts of equipments used in aquaculture;
(4) Acceleration of innovation among relevant business operators that compose the plastic value chain through “Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA)”;
(5) Formulation of a “Public and private cooperation framework for innovation of marine plastic” with businesses, organizations, and researchers who come up with innovative solutions, and transmit information.
6. Collaboration with stakeholders
(1) Expansion of “Plastics Smart” campaign to encourage all stakeholders to prevent generation of marine litter;
(2) Recognition of good practices with the “Marine Litter Zero Award”, and sharing of information at “Marine Litter Zero International Symposium”;
(3) Promotion of actions through “Plastic-related goals for each business sector” by Japan Business Federation, and “Action declaration for plastic resource circulation” by the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food industry;
(4) Promotion of cooperation between local committees based on the “Marine Litter Act”, and model projects for local governments including those inland.
7. International cooperation for promoting measures in developing countries
(1) Support for programs including ODA to developing countries for waste regulations, capacity and institutional building for waste management, formulation of action plans on marine litter in each country, and installation of high quality environmental infrastructure such as waste-to-energy plants;
(2) Support to ASEAN countries based on “ASEAN+3 marine plastic litter cooperation action initiative”;
(3) Support for human resource development on marine plastic litter monitoring in Southeast Asian area.
8. Accumulation of actual conditions and accumulation of scientific knowledge
(1) Promotion of international harmonization of monitoring methods;
(2) Investigation and estimation of domestic generation amount and routes, and investigation of floating plastic;
(3) Research on effects of marine plastic litter including microplastics on human health and on the ecosystem.
(1) Amount of waste plastic generated, recycled, heat recovered, incinerated without energy recovery, and land filled;
|Proper treatment||Recycling||2,330k t||2,410kt||2,420kt||2,510kt||
|Incineration of waste without energy recovery + landfill||1,580kt||1,520kt||1,400kt||1,280kt||
Amount of plastic discharged, recycled, heat recovered, incinerated without energy recovery and land filled, estimated by industry associations based on the amount of generated plastic and on information from questionnaires.
“The status of production, disposal, recycling and treatment of plastic products in 2017” (Plastic Waste Management Institute JAPAN)
“The status of production, disposal, recycling and treatment of plastic products in 2016” (Plastic Waste Management Institute JAPAN)
“The status of production, disposal, recycling and treatment of plastic products in 2015” (Plastic Waste Management Institute JAPAN)
“The status of production, disposal, recycling and treatment of plastic products in 2014” (Plastic Waste Management Institute JAPAN)
(2) Amount of marine litter cleaned up;
|Total litter||41,978 t||29,277t||29,943t||45,819t||
Comprehensive Investigation on Measures to Tackle Beach Debris (FY 2016)
Total litter: The above data describes the amount collected by local government.
Marine plastic litter: estimated by multiplying the volume of processed litter by the proportion of plastic litter calculated through sample survey.
(3) Collected amount of land-based litter, illegal dumping, and scattered waste
Estimated amount of collected plastic through clean-up and collection activities (FY2017): 91,320t
Amount of plastics (FY2017): 9,940t
“Estimated amount collected by clean-up and collection activities”:
Estimated amount, excluding the amount collected on the coast, based on the amount collected by prefectures and municipalities
“Amount proportion of plastics “:
Estimated amount collected, based on the results of those local governments which have data on the amount of plastic
(4) Scale of use of innovative technologies and materials including R&D investment
Implemented a “Project on building a recycling system for plastics to support decarbonized society” to support a demonstration project, related to the conversion of plastics into alternative materials from FY2019 (FY2019 budget: 35 billion yen)
Promotion of development of oyster aquaculture equipments using marine biodegradable plastics from 2018 (FY2019 budget: within 180 million yen).
(5) Scale and/or effect of assistance for countries that need technical capacity development;
|Number of participants joining training programs||1,352||2,996||2,669||2,160||
The above numbers are provided from the JICA.
There are further training programs leaded by the MOEJ, which are not included on the above table, such as capacity building training program in Japan, bilateral workshops on waste management and multilateral forums, inter alia, the Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific (http://www.uncrd.or.jp/index.php?menu=389) and the African Clean Cities Platform (ACCP) (https://africancleancities.org/index.html).
● Strengthening of domestic plastic waste management system (1. Comprehensive promotion of proper waste management system)
Japan is aiming to build a domestic resource circulation system by promptly installing plastic products recycling facilities, by utilizing the “Project for promoting installation of advanced equipment such as CO2 saving type recycling” (FY2019 budget: 3.33 billion yen, FY2018 revised budget: 6 billion yen). In addition, it is planned to support recycling technology development of plastic products, as well as promoting efficient use of resources that have not been collected or recycled, under the “Project on building a recycling system for plastics to support decarbonized society” (FY2019 budget: 3.5 billion yen).
● Support to collection and treatment of coastal marine litter by local government (4. Removal of plastic litter from the ocean)
Japan promotes collection and treatment of marine litter by local governments, through utilizing the “Project for promoting local measures against coastal marine debris” based on the “Marine Litter Act” (FY2018 second revised budget: 3.1 billion yen; FY2019 budget: 400 million yen). In addition, fishery multi-functional measures (FY2019 budget: 2.9 billion yen) are being used to encourage fishermen to take action on the collection and treatment of marine litter including marine plastics, for the maintenance and recovery of the marine ecosystem. Furthermore, Japan promotes for local governments to cooperate with fishermen to bring back to port any litter that they collect while they are fishing by utilizing the subsidies under the “Project for promoting local measures against coastal marine debris” based on the “Marine Litter Act”.
● Plastics Smart campaign（６. Awareness raising and collaboration with stakeholders）
To solve marine plastic issues, Japan promotes the “Plastics Smart” campaign has been actively promoted, encouraging cooperation and collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders, such as national, local public organizations, citizens, NGOs, businesses, and research institutes. Plastics Smart promotes “the wise use of plastics” to prevent the generation of marine litter.
● International cooperation for promoting measures in developing countries
Japan has launched the “MARINE Initiative” to advance effective actions to combat marine plastic litter at a global scale focusing on (1) Management of wastes, (2) Recovery of marine litter, (3) Innovation, and (4) Empowerment. Under this initiative, Japan will support empowerment in developing countries to promote waste management, recovery of marine litter, and innovation, including provision of training for 10,000 officials engaging in waste management all over the world by 2025.
Japan provides support to ASEAN countries, based on the ASEAN+3 initiative, for various initiatives such as: awareness raising of local governments, citizens and business units; development of national action plans on marine litter; capacity building for proper waste management including waste-to-energy infrastructure; as well as establishment of knowledge-hub to promote knowledge-sharing on marine litter management.
● Formulation of Resource Circulation Strategy for Plastics
This strategy was formulated in May 2019, with the purposes of comprehensively promoting plastic resource circulation. The purpose of this strategy is to realize a sustainable society and pass on our rich environment to the next generation, while addressing a wide range of issues such as resource/waste constraints, marine litter countermeasures, global warming countermeasures and building a domestic resource circulating system that responds to bans on waste import by Asian countries. It also aims to reduce the dependence on non-renewable resources, replace them with renewable resources, and collect and reuse the resources used as taking into account economic and technological possibilities. The main focus includes thorough reduction; effective, efficient and sustainable recycling; promotion of recycled materials and bioplastics use; marine plastic countermeasures; international deployment; and infrastructure development.
● Clean Ocean Material Alliance (5. Innovation through development and conversion of alternative materials)
It has become necessary for society to promote worldwide efforts to overcome the marine plastic litter issue, a newly emerging global challenge. To decrease such litter, conducting appropriate control of waste is urgently needed, including through thorough efforts for preventing littering, further enhancement of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) initiatives involving plastic products, and further development and adoption of plastics with excellent biodegradability and materials alternative to plastics, for e.g., paper.
We established Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance (provisional name) consisting of a wide range of business operators that make up the supply chain and work actively in order to accelerate innovation through public-private partnerships by promoting the 3Rs new efforts and alternative materials that make the use of plastic products more sustainable.
● National Action Plan for Marine Plastic Litter
● Resource Circulation Strategy for Plastics
● Subsidy for the local government (4. Removal of plastic litter from the ocean)
● Clean Ocean Material Alliance(5. Innovation through development and conversion of alternative materials)
● Plastics Smart campaign（6. Collaboration with stakeholders）
Tatsuya ABE (Mr.)