05m 00s

Researchers develop plastic that decomposes after use

Learn Japanese from the News

Broadcast on May 2, 2022 Available until May 1, 2023

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News". In this program we learn Japanese and more about Japan from news stories presented in simple Japanese. Today's headline is "Researchers develop plastic that decomposes after use", which is put on NEWS WEB EASY's website on April 6th 2022. Keywords include such as 「プラスチック(ぷらすちっく)purasuchikku」plastic and 「ごみ gomi」trash, garbage, waste.

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[Transcript]

"Researchers develop plastic that decomposes after use"



Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News."
 
Join us as we learn Japanese and about the country from Japanese-language news stories. Today's headline is…



使(つか)い終(お)わったら分解(ぶんかい)するプラスチックを作(つく)った
 
"Researchers develop plastic that decomposes after use"
This is a news story that was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on April 6th.
 
Before we listen to the story in full, let's go over a few keywords that'll help us understand what's going on.
 
分解(ぶんかい)する
"decompose," or more specifically in the context of today's story, "biodegrade."
 
ごみ
"trash" or "waste"
 
Let's keep these words in mind as we listen.
 
「世界(せかい)で、プラスチックが海(うみ)などでごみになることが問題(もんだい)になっています。東京大学(とうきょうだいがく)の岩田忠久教授(いわたただひさきょうじゅ)の研究室(けんきゅうしつ)は、海(うみ)の水(みず)などの自然(しぜん)の中(なか)で分解(ぶんかい)されてごみにならないプラスチックを作(つく)りました。
岩田教授(いわたきょうじゅ)は、特別(とくべつ)な酵素(こうそ)をプラスチックに混(ま)ぜてフィルムを作(つく)りました。そしてフィルムを小(ちい)さく切(き)って海(うみ)の水(みず)に入(い)れました。細(こま)かくなったプラスチックの中(なか)の酵素(こうそ)が水(みず)と反応(はんのう)して、ゆっくりと分解(ぶんかい)が始(はじ)まりました。フィルムをもっと細(こま)かく切(き)ると分解(ぶんかい)が早(はや)くなりました。岩田教授(いわたきょうじゅ)は将来(しょうらい)、全部(ぜんぶ)のプラスチックの20%ぐらいを、分解(ぶんかい)するプラスチックにしたいと考(かんが)えています。」
 
Plastic waste that ends up in the ocean kills millions of marine animals each year.
 
Today's news story is about a new plastic developed by a group of researchers led by Iwata Tadahisa, a professor at the University of Tokyo. The plastic is embedded with enzymes that cause it to naturally break down in water.
 


Now we'll take a closer look at a few sentences from the news story that contain helpful expressions and keywords.
 
使(つか)い終(お)わったら分解(ぶんかい)するプラスチックを作(つく)った
"Researchers develop plastic that decomposes after use"
 
使(つか)い終(お)わったらmeans "after use" – it refers to when you're done using something.
You can add 終(お)わる("to finish") to the end of action words, that is, verbs to express the idea of finishing that action. In the headline, 終(お)わるis added to the verb 使(つか)う("to use") to make 使(つか)い終(お)わる("to finish using").
Here it's 使(つか)い終(お)わったら to express the idea "when finished using." 終(お)わったら means "when finished" or "after you're done."
 
Moving on, for this next sentence, pay attention to the word 分解(ぶんかい)bunkai.
 
東京大学(とうきょうだいがく)の岩田忠久教授(いわたただひさきょうじゅ)の研究室(けんきゅうしつ)は、海(うみ)の水(みず)などの自然(しぜん)の中(なか)で分解(ぶんかい)されてごみにならないプラスチックを作(つく)りました。
 
University of Tokyo Professor Iwata Tadahisa's lab has created a plastic that breaks down in nature, such as in seawater, and does not become waste.
 
In this context 分解(ぶんかい)するmeans "to decompose," but in a more general sense it means to separate something into its constituent parts or elements.
 
ごみcan mean "trash" or "waste"
 
When we want to specify what kind or what size of ごみ we're talking about, we add that element before ごみ. For example, 生(なま)ごみ refers to what's called "wet waste" or "kitchen waste"
 
These days, awareness of plastic pollution has become so widespread that it's entered the Japanese lexicon. The phrase プラスチック製(せい)のゴミ("plastic waste") is commonly shortened to プラごみ.
 
プラごみ includes plastic items that can be recycled and reused, as well as biodegradable plastics like the one featured in our story today.
 
Innovations like these are definitely a step forward, but at the end of the day it's about more than just plastic. The world needs to come together and work toward reducing waste in all its forms.
 
Tune in next time for more!
 

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