On December 17, 1996, Keidanren presented the Industry-Wise Voluntary Action Plans for 29 industries (represented by 131 organizations), which were drafted in response to Keidanren's Appeal on the Environment. Our present report, entitled Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment, includes seven additional industries, bringing the final number of participants in the voluntary plans up to 36 industries and 137 organizations.
The first characteristic of this plan is that it has been and is an entirely voluntary effort in which each industry has used its own discretion free from compulsion by any government or regulatory body. Furthermore, this effort have resulted in the adoption of plans which are optimum under present economic and political conditions and that commit industries to doing all that they can.
The second characteristic is that the plan's participants are not limited to the fields of manufacturing and energy but cover an extremely wide range of industries including distribution, transportation, construction, foreign trade, non-life insurance, and more. We are not aware of any other case across the globe in which non-manufacturing industries are participating in such voluntary action plan.
Third, many of the participating industries have established quantitative targets for the measures that they have adopted in combating the challenges of global warming and waste disposal.
Fourth, this action plan is subject to an annual review process, the results of which are to be made public (the first review is scheduled for the summer of 1998). Through the carrying out such periodic reviews, a mechanism will be put in place to ensure that industrial circles will continue to improve the measures that they adopt in protecting the environment.
Many industrial circles have established concrete objectives, including a completion target date of 2010, as part of their voluntary plans. Eighteen industries have spelled these objectives out in terms of improvements in the level of energy input per unit of output or CO2 emission per unit of output; fourteen industries have defined their targets in terms of reduction in the total amount of energy used or CO2 emitted, and eight industries have established energy conservation measures that seek to lower energy consumption during the stage in which services are provided or products are used.
In terms of specific measures, many industries have placed their primary emphasis on improving the efficiency of energy use. These measures include the formulating of careful and detailed innovations relating to operations control, including energy conservation in offices; making improvements in equipment and processes; and engaging in and implementing the developments from technological research.
Other industries cite the effective use of heat exhaust, electricity generation using waste material, co-generation, adopting new forms of energy, and the changing of fuels. In the electric power industry, the increased use of nuclear power has been cited as well as the enhancement of its functions and performance. Other industries note the importance of reassessing products from the design stage, as called for by the Life Cycle Assessment(LCA); contributing to energy conservation through international cooperation; and the promotion of reforestation.
Six industries have adopted the approach of cutting down the amounts of waste produced; seventeen have said they will aim to improve rates of recycling and increase the amount of material recycled; ten have cited as their goal the reduction of quantities of waste that have to be dealt with at the final stage of disposal; and six have cited as their target improvements in rates of final disposal. Many of the industries have set 2010 as their target date by which they plan to meet these goals.
These range over a wide variety of areas: limiting the quantities of waste produced, through improvements in production processes; raising the rates of recycling for by-products and waste material by using these as material for improvement of road bed or as mixing material for cement; technological development aimed at expanding uses for recycled products, or raising the rate of comprehensive recycling through strengthening coordination with other industries; creating products that impose minimal environmental burdens, by adopting the tenets of LCA, or creating easily recyclable products; and in offices, collecting waste in separate categories, adding green to the environment, encouraging the trend away from use of paper, etc.