Japan, like many industrialized nations, faces a garbage crisis. For years it shipped countless used plastic to China, the main global destination for recyclable materials. However, these exports included a substantial quantity of plastic contaminated by food and other waste that heavily impacted the local environment and health of workers charged with sorting the trash. Looking to curb pollution at home, China in 2017 decided to halt all waste-plastic imports. The move caught Japan by surprise and sent it scrambling to find alternative destinations for its waste in regions like Southeast Asia. However, wary of becoming the new dumping grounds for first-world garbage, countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines have followed China’s lead and vowed to turn away shipments of plastic waste. Prior to the ban, Japan sent around 1.5 million tons of plastic, around a sixth of the 9 million tons it generates annually, to China and Southeast Asia. In 2018 this shrank to 1 million tons, leaving Japanese authorities to find domestic sites to process and store the waste. Without mitigating measures, Japan’s predicament will only worsen. In May of this year, the government joined with oth...