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Japan's plastic waste sees first rise in 2 decades on China ban

Chinese and Taiwanese processors seize opportunity as local peers hang back

Used plastic accumulates at a site in Tokyo partly because China stopped accepting it. (Photo by Keiichiro Sato)

TOKYO -- The amount of used plastic that Japan incinerated or buried grew for the first time in nearly two decades in 2018 after a Chinese ban on imports left domestic recyclers unable to keep up with a significantly larger load.

Of the 8.91 million tons of plastic waste generated by Japan in 2018, 1.42 million tons were disposed of rather than being reused or recycled into fuel, apparel or other goods, 140,000 tons more than in 2017, according to the Tokyo-based Plastic Waste Management Institute.

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