Japan registered 77% plastic recycling rate in 2010. This is twice the rate of UK and 20% higher than the United States. The rate to which Japan recycles its plastic waste is a rise from its 73% rate in 2006 and the 39% figure in 1996, according to the nation’s Plastic Waste Management Institute.
Since Japan implemented its disposal and treatment of plastic waste, the list of plastic items has included other items like boxes and cases, cups and containers, wrappings, plates and trays, tube-shaped containers, lids and caps.
It was in 1997 when Japan mandated businesses and households to separate plastic waste for the first time. Many laws on waste disposal have been passed since then.
“Japan has been able to make progress in plastic recycling because waste-processing agencies have won the support of manufacturers,” said institute spokesman Takushi Kamiya.
Japan recycled 72% of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in 2010, compared with 48% in Europe and 29% in the US.
The products from the recycling include textiles, industrial materials, sheeting and household items such as egg boxes. Furthermore, large quantities are being transported to countries like China, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia.
Use of new technology is also contributing to the steady improvement in the country’s recycling rate. The food company Ajinomoto, for example, has recently disclosed a plastic bottle made entirely from recycled PET which the firm says about 4,500 tonnes of recycled PET will be used in its drink bottles every year.
Japan recognizes it needs to address plastic waste that is being buried in landfill sites which number has been dwindling.