December 29, 2011
Japan is one of the most successful countries in the world for recycling plastics. In 2010, 77% of plastic waste was recycled, up from 73% in 2006 and 39% in 1996, according to the Plastic Waste Management Institute.
The country has passed several recycling laws to address the disposal and treatment of plastic waste since 1997, when businesses and consumers were obliged to separate plastic waste for the first time. That measure, along with better awareness off the benefits of separating out plastic is what has had the impact.
The list of plastic items that can be recycled has grown to include boxes and cases, wrappings, cups and containers, plates and trays, tube-shaped containers, lids and caps. Most is processed together, with plastic bottles and other containers treated separately.
In 2006, according to the institute, Japan recycled 2.1m tonnes of plastic waste, while 4.8m tonnes undergoes so-called “thermal recycling” which includes conversion into useful chemicals and burning to generate energy.