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Plastic Facts

  • Japan is the world’s second largest generator of plastic packaging waste per capita after the U.S.
  • Japan is the largest net-exporter of plastic waste in the world.
  • Japanese people use around 300-400 plastic bags and 180 PET bottles per year per capita
  • Nearly 80% of anchovies caught in Tokyo Bay have plastic in them
  • The microplastics count in the oceans surrounding Japan is 26 times higher than in the rest of the world’s oceans
  • Of the total of 8.5 million tons of plastic waste generated in Japan per year (2019):
    • 61% is burnt as waste-to-energy incineration
    • 10.5% exported for recycling (mainly to Southeast Asia)
    • 11.5% mechanically recycled in Japan
    • 3% chemically recycled
    • 8% burnt without energy recovery
    • 6% goes to landfills
  • It’s unsure if plastic will ever degrade: Time estimates range from 450 years to never.
  • By 2050 there will be as much plastic in the ocean as fish by weight.
  • Plastic production has increased twenty-fold over the last 50 years.
  • Microplastics are not just found in the ocean; Researchers found microplastic in the soil of the Swiss Alps, in the stool of Europeans and Japanese, in Antarctic ice, German beer and in honey.
United Nations Environment Programme, Single Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability, 2018. McKirdy, Andre. Throwaway society: Rejecting a life consumed by plastic. Japan Times, January 2020. GESAMP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. SOURCES, FATE AND EFFECTS OF MICROPLASTICS IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT: A GLOBAL ASSESSMENT. International Maritime Organisation, 2015. Isobe A. et al., East Asian seas: A hot spot of pelagic microplastics, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 101, Issue 2,, 2015.Plastic Waste Management Institute, Plastic Products, Plastic Waste and Resource Recovery, 2020. Parker, Laura. We Made Plastic. We Depend on It. Now We’re Drowning In It. National Geographic, June 2018. Ellen Macarthur Foundation.The New Plastics Economy. World Economic Forum, 2016. Scheurer, M.& Bigalke, M. Microplastics in Swiss Floodplain Soils Environmental Science & Technology 2018 52 (6), 3591-3598, 2018. Philipp Schwabl. Assessment of Microplastic Concentrations in Human Stool. Environment Agency Austria, United European Gastroenterology, 2018. Bergmann, Melanie et al. White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic. Science Advances  Vol. 5, no. 8, 2019. Liebezeit, G. & Liebezeit, E. Synthetic particles as contaminants in German beers.” Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 2014.