Investigating the role of greener plastics for Japan's carbon neutral goals -- Sep 27

Japan has a plastic problem. Thanks in part to an overabundance of packaging, the country is the second largest producer of plastic waste per capita.

While plastic pollution is a well-known cause for concern, an often-overlooked issue is how plastics contribute to global warming. Plastics are a surprisingly large cause of carbon emissions, with roughly 4.5% of global emissions caused by the plastics sector.

Now, joint research between Kyushu University and Yokohama-based start-up company, Sotas Co., Ltd, has investigated the potential for Japan's market to incorporate a greener plastic supply chain.

"The Japanese government has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. However, the predominant method that Japan uses to get rid of plastic waste is 'thermal recycling' or incineration, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," says senior author Professor Andrew Chapman, from Kyushu University's International Institute for Carbon Neutral Energy and Research. "We have examined whether switching to more sustainable recycled plastics and bioplastics is a competitive and effective alternative to current carbon reduction policies."

The researchers began with an economic and environmental assessment of six commonly used plastic types, based on whether they were made using virgin, recycled or bioplastic. They scored the plastics using four different criteria: global warming potential, cost, recyclability and perceived quality for manufacturers. Depending on the weighting given to each factor, the researchers calculated how desirable each plastic was under a number of scenarios. ...continue reading