New Terahertz Wave Sorting Technology to Improve Plastic Containers and Packaging Waste Recycling in Japan

Jeongsoo Yu, Xiaoyue Liu, Gaku Manago, Tadao Tanabe, Shiori Osanai, Kazuaki Okubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plastic product consumption and disposal are widespread. Given that these products are derived from crude oil, it is critical to reduce their consumption and effectively recycle plastic waste as recycled resources to achieve a low-carbon society. Japan enacted the “Containers and Packaging Recycling Law” in 2000, encouraging the recycling of plastic packaging and containers. However, material recycling of plastic waste has stalled due to recycling costs and technical challenges. This paper examines and evaluates the transition process and operational status of Japan’s recycling policy for plastic containers and packaging, as well as clarifies the limits of resources recycling. The limits and issues of current identification technology are discussed by analyzing the characteristics of plastic marks and detecting the material compositions of waste samples. The paper also discusses a new sorting technology that uses terahertz waves to improve plastic recycling. This analysis revealed that plastic containers are typically made of two or more plastic materials, which makes resources recycling more difficult. Terahertz waves are safer than other high-accuracy sorting technologies currently in use. Thus, material recycling can be expanded by accurately analyzing the composition of plastic waste and introducing sorting devices appropriate for achieving the circular economy with sustainable resource recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct


  • plastic waste
  • recycling policy
  • resources recycling
  • sorting technology
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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