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Change for the Blue: Cleaning up marine litter

Change for the Blue is mobilizing Japanese businesses, government and the public to stop litter polluting the rivers and oceans.

Mountains of plastic waste that stay in the oceans for centuries present the world with a marine litter crisis. “We must take leadership globally to protect our beautiful oceans,” says Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation, which is committed to ocean welfare.

Change for the Blue, a Nippon Foundation project, is Japan’s first consolidated effort to reduce marine litter. Involving a partnership with the Ministry of Environment, it will span three years, cost around 5 billion yen and mobilise 10 million people nationwide.

Cities contribute 80% of marine litter, so businesses like Coca-Cola and 7-Eleven have signed on to the programme to collect and recycle plastic bottles that can otherwise wash down city drains to end up in rivers and oceans. The public is also doing its part, with 500,000 people coming together in 2020 to clean the streets in 1,500 locations around Japan for Umigomi [Marine Litter] Zero Week.