Lead Contained in Plastic Shopping Bags and their Reduction in Japan

Asari, M.; Ri, Y.; Sakai, S. (2011) Proceedings of 2011 World Congress of International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), pp. 286-292


This study aimed to identify the lead concentrations in plastic shopping bags and their reduction method in Japan.
In Japan, 40,000,000,000 bags were consumed in 2008 (333 bags per capita) (ASARI et al., 2008). For these bags, 3R is important and many campaigns have been done. Also, 3C (Clean, Cycle and Control) is important from the view point of quality, because lead is contained as pigments.
Lead contained in plastic shopping bags in Kyoto was analyzed by fluorescent X-ray analysis. The detection ratio of bags which contained lead over 100 ppm was about 17-18 % for colored bags, 4 % for all ones in 2006. Both in 2006 and 2007, average lead concentration was about 310 ppm. Concentration and detection ratio of lead were different according to bags' color. There were some bags whose lead concentrations were over 10,000 ppm. However, the detection ratio of bags which contained lead over 100 ppm was about 4.4 % for colored bags in 2010.
In 2006, Kyoto city made recommendations on lead contents in plastic shopping bags, and bag manufacturers altered the composition of their pigments. Cooperation between government and companies can therefore play a crucial role in reducing the amount of leadpresent in plastic shopping bags. Such measures have great implications for decreasing lead levels in other countries. Although it is expected that tightening regulations on large-scale stores would be effective, as they distribute large numbers of plastic shopping bags. Also, it is important to take action on small-scale stores, especially when we think about application to Asian countries.