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The Roadmap to Achieving CE in Japan: Recycling Industry Landscape Changed by Bill for Advancement of Recycling Businesses

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promoting resource recycling - two of the most pressing issues of our time - are being discussed in the current session of the Diet, with the aim of simultaneously resolving these two issues. The Cabinet on March 15 approved a bill entitled "Law Concerning Advancement of Recycling Businesses to Promote Resource Recycling (Bill for Advancement of Recycling Businesses). The vision contained in this single bill is far-reaching. We took another look back at the process leading up to the bill's enactment to see how its passage would change the landscape of the recycling industry.

 

In compiling the bill, the Ministry of the Environment, which is in charge of the bill, set up a panel of experts to analyze from various angles the issues facing Japan's recycling industry today and the direction it should take. The "Subcommittee on the Construction of a Decarbonized Resource Recycling System for the Venous Industry of the Recycling Society Subcommittee of the Central Environment Council" was the forum for deliberations, and in February it compiled a report entitled "Specific Measures for the Construction of a Decarbonized Resource Recycling System. The opinion was submitted to the Minister of the Environment by the Central Environment Council, and based on this, it was compiled as the " Bill for Advancement of Recycling Businesses " submitted to the current Diet session.

 

What was written in the 12-page, 4-chapter "How it should be"?

 

To ensure human rights and environmental due diligence, an infrastructure for exchanging electronic data will be developed to improve the traceability function of recycled materials. By organically linking players such as arterial and  venous industry, citizens, and the national and local governments that support their activities through the creation of such an environment, a fair, highly transparent, and international standard recycling loop with advanced recycling functions will be established. This is the direction envisioned by "How it should be".

 

It also includes measures to strengthen the response to the problem of improper exports, which is occurring at the forefront of Japan's recycling loop, mainly by foreign-affiliated businesses. The last section of the main measures in the "How it should be done" section refers to "international efforts," and states that "further cooperation with customs and other authorities and the formulation of guidelines necessary for the operation of the system will be promoted. The latter part of the document also points out that "it is necessary to strengthen the network of Basel officers in each country and to enhance the ability of Asian countries to deal with illegal exports at the water's edge.

 

The background to the submission of the bill is described in the Ministry of the Environment's document as follows

 

  •  "Resource recycling can contribute not only to carbon neutrality but also to solving social issues such as economic security and regional development, and needs to be realized in all areas. There is a growing trend in the world, especially in Europe, to seek the use of recycled materials. If we delay our response, we are likely to miss growth opportunities, and it is important for Japan to strengthen the industrial competitiveness of resource recycling by ensuring the quality and quantity of recycled materials".

 

  • In light of this situation, the proposed law aims to promote the development of the resource recycling industry by promoting the sophistication of the recycling business, etc. so that manufacturers, etc. can be assured of a supply of recycled materials of the quality and quantity they need in order to advance resource recycling.

 

What exactly will the operational image be? The key point is the "national batch certification system.

 

The scenario envisions the development of core players with a sense of urgency, in which the government certifies disposal businesses, eliminating the local government licensing process required by the Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law, while taking certain measures to ensure that there are no obstacles to the preservation of the living environment of local residents.

 

Three types of certification are envisioned. (1) "Sophisticated business form" to promote wide-area sorted collection and recycling operations that cut across municipal boundaries to secure recycled materials in both quality and quantity, (2) "Sophisticated separation and recovery technology" to obtain recycled materials from newly emerging materials such as solar panels, and (3) "Advanced recycling process" to promote the introduction of high-efficiency equipment that enhances greenhouse gas reduction effects.

 

(IRuniverse G・Mochizuki)

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