Anyway, I want to reduce garbage February 25, 16:39

When buying groceries at the supermarket.

Wouldn't it be convenient if you could bring your own container and buy as much as you needed instead of the usual packaging?

Or is it inconvenient to bring a container one by one?

With the change in lifestyle caused by the new corona, the number of plastic trash such as bento containers is increasing rapidly, and now the "selling side" companies are taking measures with their own hands, but is the trash really decreasing?

(Reporter Minoru Yoshida, Ministry of Economic Affairs)

Plastic garbage that increases due to corona damage

"Minato Waste Collection Office" where plastic waste collected in Minato-ku, Tokyo is sorted and recycled.

One day in February, the amount of plastic waste piled up was as high as 10 tons.

It is said that the amount is steadily increasing against the background of the corona disaster.

When the state of emergency was declared in April last year, it increased by more than 15% compared to the same period of the previous year.

The increase has continued since July, when the infection has subsided, increasing by 8% annually.

It is believed that this is due to the spread of working from home and the increase in meals at home ahead of eating out.

Not only cup noodle containers, but also many containers used for take-out and home delivery of restaurants, which are increasing recently, were seen.

Lifestyle changes caused by corona actually have a negative effect on the garbage problem.

According to the "Japan Container Recycling Association" made by recycling companies, the amount of plastic waste underwritten by local governments nationwide that has contracts has remained at the highest level in 2020, even in the last 10 years.

Reduce by "selling by weight"

Plastic garbage that can continue to increase if left alone.

There is also a growing movement of companies to seriously work to reduce this.

“Selling by weight” was started by Ryohin Keikaku, a major household goods chain known for its MUJI brand.

It was in one of the largest stores in the Kanto area, which just opened in December last year in Ariake, Tokyo.

60 kinds of foods such as pasta, rice, nuts and dried fruits are lined up in a transparent case.

If it is 20 grams or more, you can purchase it in 1 gram units.

A paper bag is used for take-out.

It is a proposal to reduce wasteful shopping and unnecessary garbage by having people purchase the necessary products in the required amount.

By the way, when I was a kid, I remembered that a candy store in my neighborhood sold candies and chocolates in wide-mouthed containers, which made me feel a little nostalgic.

However, according to Kaoru Sakaki, who is in charge, "selling by weight" is not as easy as it looks.

By transferring what was previously sealed in a plastic bag to a transparent case, it will be sold in a form that is easily exposed to the air, and the taste will change due to humidity and oxidation, and the product will deteriorate more easily. ..

For this reason, it is necessary to check the quality every day, and it seems that the time and effort of management at the store is not comparable to the conventional one.

In addition, we carefully select products suitable for management from hundreds of candidates.

The 60 types that are lined up now are "elite by weight" in the words of Mr. Sakaki.

Not everything can be sold by weight.

Even so, it's been about three months since it started selling by weight, but consumers say that they can be conscious of working on environmental issues.

Mr. Sakaki also said, "As a company, it is important not only to work on reducing plastic waste, but also to provide customers with a place to reduce plastic waste and to provide them with an opportunity to raise their awareness of the environment through shopping. I was talking.

Reduce with "infinite recycling"

Speaking of reducing PET bottles, "My Bottle" comes to mind.

I think many people carry it with water or coffee.

However, most of the carbonated drinks are still PET bottles.

The beverage industry has been focusing on recycling collected bottles for many years.

According to the PET Bottle Recycling Promotion Council, the recycling rate of PET bottles in Japan has reached 85.8%.

It is recycled in various forms such as food trays and clothing.

However, more than 24% are recycled as bottles.

In fact, even if the recovered bottle is dissolved, impurities are removed, and then the bottle is regenerated, it is difficult to remove 100% of the impurities, and there is a problem that it darkens a little.

For this reason, with current technology, bottle-to-bottle regeneration can only be done a few times.

After being collected, if it is recycled to food trays other than bottles, it will eventually be incinerated.

Continuing to recycle into bottles will lead to a reduction in the amount of plastic waste that is discarded as a result, but how to remove impurities generated in the process of collection → dissolution → regeneration is exactly the “bottleneck”. ..

How do you realize "infinite recycling," which means that bottles continue to be recycled as bottles?

Kirin, a major beverage company, and Mitsubishi Chemical, a major chemical company, are now working on technologies to overcome these challenges.

The processes that both companies introduce into the recycling process are "chemical decomposition" and "refining."

"Chemical decomposition" decomposes PET bottles to the raw material level.

And "refining" is the process of extracting only the decomposed raw materials.

It seems that there is no difference in quality from making bottles from raw materials because the bottles are regenerated using only the parts that are almost purely the raw materials for PET bottles.

Hidekatsu Ishida, director of the Kirin Package Innovation Research Institute, said that conventional recycling is "the work of melting ice in water and then freezing it again", and the new recycling technology is "melting ice and then evaporating it to only steam. The work of taking out and freezing it again "is likened.

You can see its purity.

However, this technology still requires more labor and cost than the conventional process.

Kirin and Mitsubishi Chemical are still researching to put them into practical use within a few years.

Seriousness that consumers are also asked

Although the new coronavirus is rampant, the accumulated social challenges are proceeding in parallel.

The fact is that the problem of garbage cannot be said, "Because it is difficult in Corona, please wait for a while." Rather, the situation is not waiting.

Mr. Sakaki of Ryohin Keikaku, who is in the position of selling plastic products, said, "Retail is responsible for creating an opportunity for consumers to think."

I think it is necessary for us consumers to think about what each person can do and act accordingly.

Minoru Yoshida,

Reporter of the Ministry of Economic Affairs

Joined the

Bureau in 2000. After working at the Kitakyushu Bureau and the Directorate General of China

, he

was in charge of coverage of the distribution and food industry.