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Japan aims for accord on zero plastic waste by 2050 at G-20 summit

  • June 1, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 2:02 p.m.
  • English Press

File photo taken in September 2017 shows plastic waste washed ashore on a beach in Guinea in West Africa. (Kyodo)

Japan aims for agreement at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka on the reduction of plastic waste inflow to the ocean to zero by 2050, a source close to the matter said Saturday.

 

Japan plans to raise the matter as a top agenda item when it hosts the two-day gathering from June 28 and hopes to assess progress in member countries’ efforts in cutting such waste at a meeting of the U.N. Environment Assembly in 2021, the source said.

 

Still, it remains unclear whether an agreement will be reached as the United States is expected to be cautious about such an initiative while European countries could call for a more ambitious goal, the source said.

 

Ahead of the summit, ways to strengthen the monitoring of plastic waste and research promotion as well as providing financial and technological support to developing countries will be discussed at a meeting of environment and energy ministers of G-20 economies on June 15 and 16 in Nagano Prefecture.

 

About 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced every year, of which 8 million tons end up in the world’s oceans, significantly affecting marine ecosystems, according to the U.N. Environment Program.

 

Many countries are grappling with increasing amounts of plastic waste that degrades into small pieces when exposed to ultraviolet light and abrasion. Pieces measuring less than 5 millimeters in length are called microplastics.

 

Scientists say those tiny pieces become difficult to collect once they enter the water, tend to adsorb harmful chemicals and accumulate inside fish, birds and other animals as they make their way up the food chain.

 

The Japanese government has been stepping up its efforts to reduce plastic waste after it came under international criticism for not signing the Ocean Plastics Charter at the Group of Seven summit in Canada last year. The United States also did not sign the pact.

 

Tokyo has set the goal of cutting disposable plastic waste by 25 percent by 2030 and completely recycling or reusing all such waste including items used in scrapped household electric appliances and auto parts by 2035.

 

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