The Japanese Environment Ministry, in line with the global trend, is trying to disseminate the use of domestic bioplastic products and to stop the use of disposable goods made of petroleum-derived plastic, a cause of environmental pollution. The movement to stop using disposable plastics has been spreading in Japan as well as outside Japan. Starbucks, the U.S. coffee giant, has decided to stop use of plastic straws from its stores worldwide by 2020 followed by Gusto, a family restaurant chain that has also declared to do the same within the year.
Use of bioplastics reduces petroleum consumption as well as the volume of garbage to be incinerated as they are easily broken down by micro-organisms underground. However, it is difficult to make it popular with the people as they are costly and a mass production system has yet to be fully implemented.
The ministry is planning to subsidize the efforts of the companies and universities to develop technologies to replace plastic packaging with that made of bioplastics. It is also keen to expand and improve facilities to increase production of bioplastic items. The ministry has made a budgetary provision of ¥5 billion ($45 million) in its budgetary request for next fiscal year for these projects to study methods to collect and dispose of used bioplastic products.
According to the government’s global warming prevention plan, the country can reduce 2.09 million tons of CO2 emissions by increasing the amount of domestic bioplastic shipments to 1.97 million tons by fiscal 2030. In order to achieve its interim goal of producing 790,000 tons of bioplastics in the fiscal year 2020, the government is considering enhancing the production volume of bioplastics drastically.