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Japan eyes new framework on marine plastic waste

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government aims to establish a new international framework for promoting reductions in marine plastic waste, it was learned Friday.

Tokyo will propose the idea at the meeting of energy and environment ministers from the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, on June 15 and 16.

Marine pollution by plastic waste is increasingly becoming a serious global challenge.

Japan assumes that countries will compile their respective action plans to reduce such waste, based on the government’s plan drawn up in late May, and that progress in their efforts will be reported and verified on a regular basis, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Japan will also call for setting an overall reduction target for the G20 members, at the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28 and 29.

Tokyo apparently hopes that the new framework will be similar to the Paris Agreement, an international initiative for combating global warming.

But some are concerned that the United States may not join the new framework if binding targets are introduced, like under the Paris Agreement, because the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is believed to be negative about taking environmental measures.

The Japanese action plan focuses on preventing plastic waste from flowing into the ocean while allowing the continued use of plastic products. The Japanese program is milder compared with one adopted in Europe that bans the distribution of plastic products.

A government official said: “Plastic waste is dumped into rivers in developing countries. This needs to be stopped.”

Japan also hopes to have discussions on providing developing nations with technical assistance to reduce plastic waste.

At the G20 ministerial meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan plans to call for stepping up efforts to assess the realities of marine plastic waste.

Precisely grasping the amount of waste flowing into the ocean and other details would be necessary for creating an effective framework to combat the problem. At present, however, marine plastic waste estimates by U.S. university researchers are the only available data.

According to the researchers, the total amount of marine plastic waste produced annually across the world is estimated to range from 4.78 million tons to 12.75 million tons.

By country, the annual amount is the largest in China, estimated at 1.32 million tons to 3.53 million tons, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In Japan, the amount is estimated at 20,000 tons to 60,000 tons, the data showed.

Meanwhile, few details have been identified about the circulation of plastic waste in oceans or the mechanisms of how marine plastic waste is produced.

Japan to promote CO2 as fuel

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Friday unveiled its technical roadmap for expanding the use of carbon dioxide as fuel and materials.

By promoting technological innovation in cooperation with related industries and the academic world, the ministry aims to commercialize alternative fuels to gasoline and concrete-substitute materials made with the use of CO2 around 2030 and spread them fully around 2050.

The roadmap will be presented at a meeting of energy and environment ministers from the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, on June 15 and 16.

The roadmap said that carbon recycling, or CO2 collection for reuse, is a key to reductions in CO2 emissions.

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