Banning the use of plastics in Tokyo commercial establishments has been a slow process. Reducing plastic bags has been discussed for more than a decade, and finally starting in July, Japan retailers will be required to charge a fee for plastic bags. Customers noticed that many Tokyo supermarkets started charging for plastic bags from April 1, the government’s original target date.

Meanwhile, Starbucks started banning the distribution of plastic straws in Japan this past January, and now nearly 100 Tokyo Station establishments have followed suit. From April 1, 95 stores at Tokyo Station started using less plastic by reducing the availability and, in some cases, completely eliminating the availability of plastic straws. 

Reducing Plastic Waste

The stores swapped plastic straws for paper straws, and ones made from more biodegradable materials. Paper straws are more expensive than plastic straws, but these costs are minor when it comes to taking a company on a more environmentally friendly path in order to combat climate change.

The plastic straw initiative is just the tip of the iceberg, with representatives from East Japan Railway Company and affiliated stores commenting that there will be sweeping changes to not only eliminate plastic straws but an overall reduction of plastic waste from Tokyo Station.

In the future, reusable bags will be sold or provided to customers with plastic bags being charged as to limit their use. Furthermore, 100% of recyclable food waste will be recycled at a new bio gasification facility in order to generate power.

A Growing Trend?

In these future efforts to reduce all plastic waste in Tokyo Station, we may see the East Japan Railway Company target additional stores around the station, as this campaign only gained the support of 95 stores out of a targeted 106.

Perhaps the East Japan Railway Company declaring war on plastic in one of its biggest stations is only the start, with hopefully more stations following suit, and banning plastic altogether. Until that day I feel we all have a responsibility to try and limit our plastic use as much as we can.

Feature ImageRichie Chan / Shutterstock