Japanese recycling rates are extraordinary: 98 per cent for metals for example and, in 2007, just five per cent of Japan’s waste ended up in a hole in the ground, compared with 48 per cent for the UK in 2008. Japan’s appliance recycling laws ensure the great majority of electrical and electronic products are recycled, compared with 30-40 per cent here. Of these appliances, 74-89 per cent of the materials they contain are recovered. Perhaps more significantly, many of these materials go back into the manufacture of the same type of products from which they were reclaimed. This is the ‘closed-loop’ holy grail of recycling essential for a truly circular economy.
So how has Japan managed it and can we do it too?
How it works over there
Collaboration is at the heart of the Japanese system. The public plays a part by separating out recyclables, paying recycling fees directly and holding companies to account when necessary. Manufacturers do their bit by using more recycled materials, and making longer lasting products that are easier to repair and recycle. The system has two key features:
Consumer-friendly collection: The system for collecting old appliances for recycling is so comprehensive and easy to use it’s harder not to recycle them. Old appliances are collected by retailers either in store or when delivering a new appliance. For old IT equipment, you can request that the original manufacturer collect it from your doorstep, or you can take it to any Post Office and have it sent back to them. This is standard across Japan, making it well understood and widely used.
Recycling infrastructure is co-owned: The law requires consortia of manufacturers to run disassembly plants, ensuring they directly benefit from recovering materials and parts. Because recovery is a legal requirement, companies invest for the long term in recycling infrastructure. And because they own both manufacturing and recovery facilities, companies send product designers to disassembly factories to experience the frustrations of taking apart a poorly designed product. Some companies even put prototypes through the disassembly process to make sure they’re easy to recover.
This system doesn’t just work well, it’s also big business: Japan’s reuse and recycling economy was worth £163 billion in 2007 (7.6% of GDP) and employed 650,000 people.
– Courtesy & Source : http://greenallianceblog.org.uk
In recent years, circular economy has driven extensive discussion as the current economic development is being constrained by ecological environment and resources. The Japanese mode of circular economy is a good reference. A Report by Luying Hao, Xiujun Ji, Yongqing Zhang from China shares their insights on Japan’s Circular economy and its significance for China. Click here to read the PDF document.
- Stop flunking e-waste: 6 steps to boost electronics recycling (theguardian.com)
- Recycle your old fridge and get $40 (wane.com)
- Make an impact on the environment with the help of Recycling centers Houston (metalyardrecycling.wordpress.com)
- Japan develops high concentrations of gallium recovery technology (infominingmachine.wordpress.com)
- Developing circular economy is a major strategic task of China’s economic and social development (steelworkshop.wordpress.com)
- Important facts about the Circular Economy (sdca.wordpress.com)
- Circular Economy (dstechnical.wordpress.com)
- The New Frontier of Recycling (furniturebank.wordpress.com)