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Japan-proposed framework to monitor plastic waste in oceans

  • June 24, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:44 p.m.
  • English Press

This is the third installment of a four-part series on the summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka.


Environment and energy ministers from the Group of 20 economies met on June 15 and 16 in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, to discuss important issues such as how to reduce plastic waste, which is causing oceanic pollution.


According to U.S. university researchers and others, it is estimated that up to 12.75 million tons of plastic waste poured into oceans around the world in 2010. Of that waste, 3.53 million tons came from China and 1.29 million tons from Indonesia. These two G20 countries are major generators of plastic waste, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all such waste that has entered the oceans.


At the G20 summit held in Germany in 2017, the issue of ocean plastic was put on the agenda for the first time and measures such as reducing plastic waste, promoting recycling, and reducing the use of plastic bags were included in an action plan.


At the latest ministerial meeting, Japan proposed creating an international framework to continuously implement the action plan. It was agreed at the meeting that officials in charge of the issue would gather together every year to create a report on how much plastic waste has been collected from the oceans, and whether there has been adequate management of the waste generated within each country or region.


Submission of the report is not obligatory. It is unclear whether the framework will be effective. However, a senior official at the Environment Ministry said, “Through the framework, we’d like to provide an opportunity to learn about progressive measures taken by other countries and raise awareness of reducing plastic waste.” The government plans to hold the first meeting under the framework by the end of November in Japan, before its presidency of the G20 expires.


In addition, the G20 members agreed to cooperate in unifying the standards for microplastics, tiny plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimeters, and to promote research to identify the routes of plastic into the oceans.Speech

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