The Al Jazeera news network investigates the use of sugar cane ‘plastic like’ bottles and seaweed ‘plastic like’ containers in production in France. Harvesting local seaweed which is actually an invasive species is a multipurpose solution to creating healthier waterways.
Japan as an island nation can tap into the prevalent natural resource of seaweed as well to create an alternate source of plastic-like materials. Like France and many other countries worldwide, however, it is necessary for the government to support new plastic alternative production to maintain competitive pricing for more ethical products to compete with cheap plastics in the marketplace.
France has just passed regulation to ban the production of single-use plastics by next year (2020) which has created an increase in demand for fossil-fuel alternative plastic-like container products.
In Japan, 7-11 has announced that it will replace the plastic wrappers on all its popular Onigiri rice balls with a bioplastic sourced from sugar cane. The Japan Times article states,
Seven-Eleven estimates it can reduce the use of plastic by 260 tons and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 403 tons a year.
As 7&i (7-11) is the convenience store market leader in Japan, this move will surely be followed by its rivals. Family Mart has announced it is using recycled plastics in some of its food containers and a chain of eateries across Japan, Ohsho Foods, will replace plastic staws and single-use plastic utensils with bioplastic alternatives.
Another attempt to decrease the amount of plastic waste littering found in waterways in Japan, 7&i and Coca-cola are collaborating on a new type of recycling machine in stores. The machine will incentivize the return of the PET plastic drink bottles for proper disposal and recycling. Users will be rewarded with incentive digital points on their prepaid card which can be used toward future purchases.