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Wooden beer bottles and paper straws -- Japan shifts from plastic

Transition creates opportunities for the nation's declining paper industry

A "gel pack" made of wood, left; a beer bottle made of wood fiber and paper eating utensils. (Courtesy Ranpak of the U.S., EcoXpac of Denmark and Hokuetsu of Japan)

TOKYO -- As the digital age gives people fewer reasons to use paper, the material has nevertheless found itself in the global spotlight.

Earlier this month more than 180 countries agreed to tougher rules for shipping non-recyclable plastic waste across national borders. This means more countries like Japan, the world's second-biggest producer per capita of plastic waste after the U.S., will have to deal with their non-recyclables at home instead of shipping it to other countries.

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