Japanese tech to help Southeast Asian nations fight marine plastic waste

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – With plastic waste having an evermore serious impact on the oceans, the Environment Ministry is to start providing technical support for Southeast Asian countries from April – the major sources of the pollution – to contain dumping of such waste, it has been learnt.

According to sources, the ministry will analyze plastic and other waste drifting in the oceans to help those countries grasp the amounts they are generating and specify their release routes.

The ministry is considering providing support for Indonesia and one other country, the sources said.

In recent years, plastic bottles and bags have been found inside fish, sea turtles, whales and other marine creatures in oceans around the world. According to estimates by researchers at US universities and others, more than 12.75 million tonnes of plastic waste were drifting in the world’s oceans in 2010.

The breakdown by country reveals that five Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia and Vietnam, were among the top 10 marine plastic waste contributors, with waste dumped by the five nations accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global total.

From next month, the ministry will work with institutions including Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and Kyushu University to provide governments, research institutes and other bodies in countries covered by the project with technologies that help identify where plastic waste comes from, according to the sources.

More specifically, the ministry plans to use research vessels to collect plastic waste and fishing boats to estimate the types and amounts of plastic waste in particular sea areas, based on the types and sizes of waste drifting in the oceans, and the frequency of detection by those ships.