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06/26/2020

Charging for disposable bags and the future ahead

Japan working on development of marine biodegradable plastics

Fukusuke Kogyo Co. is Japan’s largest manufacturer of plastic shopping bags.

Japan is considered a country that releases the world’s lowest volume of plastic waste into the oceans, thanks to efforts promoting the 3Rs of waste reduction — reduce, reuse and recycle — and ensuring appropriate processing of such waste.

Elsewhere in the world, there is a growing movement to reduce the use of disposable plastics, prompted by an increasing awareness over issues caused by marine plastic waste.

Development of environmentally friendly designs and alternative materials that can address such social needs can be a driving force for businesses to create innovation.

New disposable bags

In anticipation of the time when disposable plastic shopping bags are bought, rather than provided for free, efforts to develop biodegradable, disposable shopping bags have recently gained momentum.

Conventional plastics do not break down when disposed of; they remain in the environment until they are properly processed. Biodegradable plastics can, over time, be turned into water and carbon dioxide by microorganisms. If plastics feature marine biodegradability, they can greatly reduce the environmental impact on oceans and waterways.

Toppan Printing Co. and GSI Creos Corp., a major synthetic fiber manufacturer, have teamed up to develop such biodegradable products. Some of these products include shopping bags, trash bags and cutlery. The companies plan to supply these products to convenience stores in the future, after overcoming remaining hurdles such as cost reduction.

Toppan Printing Co. and GSI Creos Corp. have developed biodegradable plastic shopping bags, cutlery and other products.

They also plan to expand the scope of uses for the manufacturing technology acquired through this joint development project, aiming to use it to manufacture film items and molded products.

Top company making inroads

Fukusuke Kogyo Co., in Shikokuchuo, Ehime Prefecture, is Japan’s largest manufacturer of disposable plastic shopping bags. The company stands to suffer as demand for such bags is expected to decrease when they cease to be free.

To counter this, the company has developed a shopping bag that is biodegradable in the ocean. The product uses a biodegradable resin derived from various materials, including corn. The bag is said to be the first of its kind in the world that can carry up to 8 kilograms, a standard that conventional counterparts are typically required to carry, and can be mass produced.

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