Megloo Re-use Japan
It is lunchtime in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district, and rush hour for its popular restaurants. But after the delicious contents of bento boxes make their way to bellies, the next stop is not the bin. Instead, these reusables are lightly rinsed and placed into distinctive green and white Megloo boxes, ready to be collected, washed, and used for another meal.
This reuse model, started in the city of Kamakura, just south of Tokyo, to tackle single-use plastic waste, has now been piloted in Shibuya and Yokohama, and at various large events, with funding and support of the Alliance.
It begins with making a call to request for takeaway meals served in Megloo containers. Food is prepared and packed into reusable plastic containers made of lightweight polypropylene, ready for payment and collection – all while keeping customers informed on LINE, a widely-used instant messaging app in Japan. The app keeps track of the number of containers borrowed from respective restaurants providing important usage and container location data. Consumers who have eaten their fill return their Megloo containers at restaurants or deposit points, where the containers are collected, cleaned, and lined up for the next shift.
This process is repeated for 100 times for each container. Between November 2022 to May 2023, Megloo’s containers have been used more than 3,100 times.
Now, Megloo’s creator, Kaman, hopes to extend this to high-traffic food service and event venues, offices, and food delivery services. Some 88 restaurants and food trucks across 9 cities, towns, and stadiums have adopted the reuse model. As the local appetite for reusable meal boxes continues to grow, Kaman plans to avoid the use of an estimated 50 tonnes of virgin plastics by 2025, with a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions.
Japan’s obsession with over-packaging everything from sandwiches to single apples means that it ranks among the largest producers of plastic waste in the world, even if strict rules on separation and disposal keep waste off the streets.
Fortunately, Japan’s culture of innovation is helping it solve this problem. Megloo was one of two initiatives that became part of the Alliance’s portfolio of solutions through our incubation programme with Plug and Play, the End Plastic Waste Innovation Platform. Megloo was one of 11 winners that made it through the Japan edition of the programme in 2022.
POOL Recycling System Japan
The other winner selected from the Japan edition of the End Plastic Waste Innovation Platform in 2022 was start-up RECOTECH. The company is turning plastic waste destined for incineration into pools of valuable resources through its POOL Recycling System. The system collects flexible plastic waste and turns it into recycled resins, which can be used for a variety of plastic applications. The system keeps plastic waste completely traceable through an app, making it visible and centrally manageable from the time it is discarded until it is recycled into POOL resins.