Jul 22, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

Japan On An Uphill Battle Against Plastic Use

Jul 09, 2019 09:29 AM EDT

(Photo : Pexels)

JAPAN -- The nation boast of the recycling industry that is in place to ensure that they are able to reuse all the things that can still be used. Their efforts to reduce the waste they produce is due to the strong call to save the environment. Their process of sorting and the rules that they put in place are one of the strictest in the world. In fact, many countries in the world would truly benefit if they adopt the garbage collection and segregation practices of Japan.

However, recent studies show that the microplastic content found in the seas of Japan is of the same concentration as some of the worst areas in the world. In fact, the microplastic content in the waters of Japan has reached 27 more times greater than the amount found in the world's oceans on average.

Officially, the Japanese government focuses on three types of recycling processes -- material, chemical, and thermal recycling. Materials recycling is what most people are aware of. It is the type that makes you look again into the things that you have and how they can be reused. Chemical recycling, on the other hand, focuses on the breakdown of the components of plastic to hopefully combine some parts of it to make new reusable plastic. Thermal recycling involves the burning of plastic to turn it to usable energy.

Twenty-three percent of the total plastic is materially recycled while only 4% is recycled chemically. The remainder of the plastics collected is thermally recycled which practically means they are burned. Although the burning transforms the plastic into usable energy, it contributes highly to the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is the reason why many countries all over the world do not consider thermal recycling as a recycling process at all.

On the other hand, material recycling degrades the material that's why it limit the efficiency of the process. Chemical recycling, however, requires a lot of energy and resources that the whole process cannot be considered as truly economic. The burning of trash through thermal recycling comes with the same negative environmental impacts as that of the burning of fossil fuels.

While Japan has processes in place to help them deal with the plastic trash that they produce every day, not all these processes truly help save the environment. They may be getting rid of the trash, but it does not mean that they are out to save the environment. As long as the majority of the trash is thermally recycled, the problem of global warming will always persist.

In truth, these challenges will persist to be challenging until people take on it on a personal level. Plastic and its usage are just one of the issues that harm the environment. It says a lot about how much of something people consume. It may be more than they should.

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