Plastic waste is piling up in Japan with many local governments struggling to cope after China banned the import of such waste late last year, Environment Ministry data showed Thursday.
According to about a quarter of 102 local governments that responded to a ministry survey, the amount of plastic waste stored at local scrap companies increased between January and July, with some reporting piled-up waste had exceeded the legal limit.
Japan exports about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year and until last year around half went to China, which imported the waste for recycling purposes. In late 2017, China stopped accepting plastic waste out of concern over environmental pollution.
Although no illegal dumping in Japan was confirmed by the survey, a ministry official said some local governments are worried about future cases of unauthorized disposal and that the government will further look into the situation.
The survey targeted 122 local governments and 605 waste disposal businesses, asking about their plastic waste management situation between January and July, to which 102 municipalities and 175 firms responded.
Limit violations were found at five local governments and 34 municipalities said they are struggling to find trash destinations.
Plastic waste disposal increased at 56 percent of intermediate processors that incinerate or shred plastics and at 25 percent of final processors that bury waste in landfills.
A total of 34.9 percent of companies said they are limiting or considering restricting the amount of plastics they accept.
Japan produces the largest amount of plastic waste per capita after the United States and has lagged behind other countries in curbing the use of plastics despite growing fears about environmental pollution.