By MASAKI HASHIDA/ Staff Writer
December 16, 2020 at 08:00 JST
Polyethylene containers that washed up, like the one shown on the left, were crushed into fine pieces, middle, to become plastic bags. (Provided by Itochu Corp.)
That plastic container somebody just tossed in the trash or worse, the ocean, where it can take an eternity to deteriorate, is getting a second life.
As a new plastic bag.
Trading house Itochu Corp. teamed up with the nation's leading plastic bag manufacturer to develop the world's first plastic bag made from raw materials derived from marine debris.
Itochu, which partnered with subsidiary Sanipak Co. of Japan Ltd. to manufacture the bags for commercial use, hopes the project will help prod businesses to make greater efforts to go green, company officials said.
To make the bags, polyethylene containers that washed up on the shore of Nagasaki Prefecture's Tsushima island were crushed and reprocessed, Itochu officials said.
The spot is littered with more marine debris than any other island in Japan, according to some experts.
Each plastic bag has a capacity of 30 liters. Itochu plans to manufacture 100,000 garbage bags next spring and distribute them for free to Tsushima and other communities that host beach cleanup activities.
Itochu has also separately manufactured prototypes of flower vases and shampoo bottles from polyethylene containers and hopes to tie up with brand manufacturers from next year to commercialize those products.
About 100,000 tons of marine litter, mostly plastic products, is believed to wash up on Japan's shores annually, sparking concerns over its harmful impact on the environment and ecosystems.
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