As China stopped importing waste plastics to protect the environment, Japan’s actions to recycle and reuse waste plastics expanded. Waste plastics that cannot be exported account for 10% of the total emissions, and Japanese resource companies have begun to build waste plastic recycling plants.
Japan Suntory Holdings has cooperated with professional resource companies to introduce waste plastic recycling equipment. Although the recycling rate of waste plastics in Japan is expected to increase, recycling in Japan may increase the processing cost of home appliances containing waste plastics.
According to the Japan Plastics Recycling Association, Japan’s waste plastics emissions in 2017 were 9.03 million tons, of which about 900,000 tons were exported to China. It accounts for about 70% of Japan's waste plastics exports. However, due to environmental pollution during the reprocessing of waste plastics, the Chinese government has banned the import of waste plastics. At the peak of August 2017, Japan exported 86,000 tons of waste plastics to China, and after 2018 it was reduced to about 2,000 tons.
In the past, Japan's resource recycling companies recycled household appliances, plastic bottles and other wastes from individuals or companies, and then exported them to China. Chinese resource companies break down waste plastics by hand and process them into PET bottles.
However, in addition to China, other Asian countries have also restricted the import of waste plastics, so it is difficult for Japan to export waste plastics to other countries. Japan's resource recycling and recycling companies have to deal with them in the country, and related trends have expanded.
Japan's large-scale resource recycling company, Daiei Environmental Holdings, will invest 1.5 billion yen in a new plant in Osaka. It is expected that the new plant will be put into production in 2020, using waste plastics that have been exported to China in the past to manufacture plastic boxes for the distribution of food and other commodities. The annual production capacity of plastic boxes will increase to about 2 times, reaching 30,000 tons.
In other companies, Japan’s Xierong Industry, which is engaged in the recycling and recycling of waste plastic bottles, is developing new recycling technologies and introducing specialized equipment. The company is working with Suntory Holdings to promote the development of CO2 emissions by 25%. The two sides will invest about 2 billion yen to start the waste plastics recycling business at the base of Xierong Industry Group. About 300 million plastic bottles are used each year, accounting for 6% of the bottled beverages sold by subsidiaries.
Japan's comprehensive trading company will start the recycling and recycling of waste plastics in the spring of 2019, and plans to invest or acquire recycling companies. First, in the spring of 2019, we will start trials with large-scale restaurant chains to start the business. If we get on the right track, we will expand our business overseas.
However, some people in the recycling industry said that when it comes to exporting waste plastics to China, which has low labor costs, “it is only necessary to pay the freight”. Due to the high processing costs in Japan, companies that produce waste plastics are expected to pay a fee to the recycler, and the burden on the company will increase.
In the context of the global problem of waste plastics, the trend of evaluating companies from the perspective of ESG (environment, society, corporate governance) has gradually penetrated. The introduction of equipment that can automatically decompose waste in large quantities, improve processing efficiency, and reduce processing costs have become the key to expanding domestic waste recycling capacity.