A new trend in the global effort to tackle marine plastic debris is design for recycling, which is designing a recyclable product using recycled materials instead of virgin materials (Maris et al., 2014).
Japan leads the design-for-recycling initiative across ASEAN+3 countries. In 1992, the Council for PET Bottle Recycling in Japan issued a guideline on designing a recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. Revised several times, the guideline contains basic requirements for different components in the manufacture of PET bottles. These requirements make recycling easier, for example by using materials with less than 1.0 specific gravity to make labels and caps to speed up sorting (Table 1).
- PET = polyethylene terephthalate, PE = polyethylene, PP = polypropylene, PVC = polyvinyl chloride.
- * Required items.
- ** Recommended items.
Source: The Council for PET Bottle Recycling (2016).
In line with the guideline, the Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (Act No. 112 of 16 June 1995) was enacted imposing responsibility upon manufacturers to rationalise the use of containers and packaging by using recyclable containers and packaging. They are further required to promote the sorted collection of waste containers and packaging that conform to the sorting standard. Manufacturers who apply the design for recycling are given incentives or technical support (Kojima, 2019).
Design for recycling also considers the use of recycled plastics instead of virgin plastics. Even if designed for recycling, plastics are not automatically recycled. The system should consider this. Even if plastics are recycled, it is essential to ensure that the process does not cause significant environmental impacts as those from the production of virgin plastics. Whether recycling is mechanical, chemical, or biological, or uses energy recovery, choosing technology with less environmental impact but reasonable cost is the biggest challenge.
Government of Japan (1995), Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (Act No. 112 of June 16, 1995). http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/jap82815.pdf (accessed 28 November 2019).
Kojima, M. (2019), Plastic Recycling: Policies and Good Practices in Asia. Jakarta: ERIA. http://rkcmpd-eria.org/publicationsdetails.php?pid=15 (accessed 28 November 2019).
Maris, E., D. Froelich, A. Aoussat, and E. Naffrechoux (2014), ‘From Recycling to Eco-design’, in E. Worrell and M.A. Reuter (eds.), Handbook of Recycling. Oxford: Elsevier, pp.421–27.
The Council for PET Bottle Recycling (2016), Voluntary Design Guidelines for Designated PET Bottles. http://www.petbottle-rec.gr.jp/english/design.html (accessed 28 November 2019).