Recently, the Ministry of Environment of Japan has made efforts to promote the use of bioplastics in the country in accordance with global trends, and stop using disposable items made of petroleum-derived plastics that cause environmental pollution. The movement to stop the use of single-use plastics has spread in Japan and beyond.
Previously, the American coffee giant Starbucks has decided to stop using plastic straws in its global stores by 2020, and a family restaurant chain also announced that it will stop using plastic straws within this year.
Most petroleum-based plastic products do not decompose naturally when processed in the ocean or river, and therefore have a negative impact on the ecosystem. When burned, they also increase carbon dioxide emissions, thereby accelerating global warming.
The use of bioplastics reduces oil consumption and also reduces the amount of garbage to be incinerated because they are easily decomposed by underground microorganisms. Although it is technically feasible to replace petroleum-based plastics with bioplastics, it is not well-known to the whole people because of the high cost and the large-scale production system has not yet been fully implemented.
In order to solve this problem, the Ministry of Health of Japan plans to subsidize companies and universities to develop technologies for replacing plastic packaging with bioplastics, and actively increase and improve facilities to increase the production capacity of bioplastics and products. In the next fiscal year's budget, the Ministry of Health has planned a subsidy of 5 billion yen (US$45 million) for these projects, mainly for research on methods of collecting and disposing of used bioplastic products.
According to the Global Warming Prevention Plan, Japan’s domestic exports of bioplastics will increase to 1.97 million tons by fiscal year 2030, which can reduce 2.09 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. However, according to the ministry, Japan's domestic bioplastics production capacity was 40,000 tons in 2015, which is not much different from 2013. In order to achieve its mid-term goal of producing 790,000 tons in 2020, the government is urging a substantial increase in production capacity.
For example, Denso Corp, a Japanese auto parts supplier, is using bioplastics in its products, including castor oil polyurethane and starch polycarbonate. The company said that the PC made of starch not only has a higher surface hardness, but also has better optical properties and water stability than traditional materials. Denso said at the press conference that PC made of biomaterials has a lower refractive index and is easier to color, which means there is no need for additional colors. Toyota Motor Corporation also uses Denso's material in the ramp surface of its navigation system.
The heat-resistant polyurethane resin made of castor oil can be used as a protective device for the connector in the automobile waste sensor. These sensors must have high heat resistance to measure the concentration of specific gases. Generally made of silicone resin. The company claims that the new polyurethane resin is cheaper and can withstand temperatures as high as 150 degrees.