Japanese industry has devoted a tremendous amount of effort toward promoting recycling and limiting the discharge of wastes. Since 1990, with the cooperation of 14 major industries (later expanded to 15), Keidanren has further encouraged voluntary effort on the part of industry by carrying out and releasing the results of an annual survey on "the status of efforts to deal with the problem of waste in major industries."
Moreover, in developing and adopting its Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment in 1997, Keidanren decided to include measures on waste as a means of further promoting such activities. Thirty-five industries now participate in the section of the plan dealing with wastes, voluntarily providing information on their respective recycling rates, on quantitative targets for matters such as amounts of waste for final disposal, and on the measures that they are adopting to achieve such targets. These industries have also committed themselves to a continuous program of measures to deal with the problem of waste, adopting a system of periodic follow-ups that monitors progress each year. In accordance with this policy, Keidanren carried out the first follow-up under its Voluntary Action Plan in June 1998, summing up the progress that had been made by each industry, and reporting on these results in December.
In 1999, as awareness of the problem of waste grew among the Japanese due to the pressing problem of landfill shortages, the problem of dioxins, and so on, industry stepped up its efforts to promote the development of a society based on recycling. Accordingly, during the second follow-up to the Voluntary Action Plan (requests sent to the various industries in April 1999), Keidanren decided that in addition to asking the respective industries to establish targets for reductions in amount of final-disposal industrial waste, it would also establish a new industry-wide target for such reductions as a means of clearly demonstrating to society the results of the voluntary initiatives that industry has been taking on this problem. The targets for individual industries having recently become available, Keidanren is now able to establish the following unified target for industry as a whole.
Industry's target for the amount of final-disposal industrial waste in fiscal 2010 will be 15 million tons (25% of the amount disposed in fiscal 1990). As an interim target, industry will aim to achieve a figure of 21 million tons in fiscal 2005 (35% of the amount disposed in fiscal 1990). These targets are subject to reevaluations necessitated by the actual pace of progress toward targets or by changes in the social and economic environment.
- At the end of September 1999, the government established a figure of 31 million tons as its target for final-disposal industrial waste in fiscal 2010, a 50% reduction in comparison to the amount of waste disposed in fiscal 1996 (its base fiscal year). For comparison purposes, the target set by industry for fiscal 2010 (a 75% reduction from the amount disposed in fiscal 1990) works out to roughly a 70% reduction vis-à-vis the estimated amount disposed in fiscal 1996.
Twenty-six industries (Note 1) participated in the recent follow-up survey on measures being undertaken to deal with waste, and each of these industries has established targets for amounts of waste requiring final disposal.
According to this follow-up, the actual amount requiring final disposal in fiscal 1998 was 34.86 million tons, or approximately 42% less than the 60 million tons disposed in fiscal 1990 (base year).
Moreover, based on results in the base year of fiscal 1990, the amount of industrial waste requiring final disposal by these 26 industries represented nearly 70% of all final-disposal industrial waste in Japan (Note 2).
- (Note 1)
- The 26 participating industries comprise the following: electric power, gas, petroleum, steel, chemicals, cement, paper and pulp, auto parts, electrical machinery and electronics, automobiles, construction, mining, plate glass, rubber, electric wire and cable, aluminum, pharmaceuticals, beer, brass, coal, sugar, industrial machinery, shipbuilding, dairy products, bearings, and flour.
- (Note 2)
- The 60 million tons of waste requiring final disposal in fiscal 1990 by these 26 industries accounted for 67.4% of the 89 million tons (Ministry of Health and Welfare survey) of final-disposal industrial waste by Japanese industry as a whole in that year. The figures used by Keidanren do not include industrial waste discharged by either the water and sewage industries (primarily sludge) or the agricultural sector (primarily animal feces and urine), which each accounts for approximately 18% of the nation's entire output of industrial waste.
|* For some industries, amounts are estimates.|
To achieve their targets, industries will have to implement measures that optimally suit their respective situations. Reducing wastes for final disposal will require that industries take unified steps to restrain the amount of waste discharged and to increase quantities that are recycled. From the standpoint of restraining discharges, such individual measures would include: improving production processes; identifying and reducing the use of materials which place undue loads on the environment; reducing rates of defective products and quantities of products that are scrapped through quality control and management of the distribution system; reducing the use of disposable spare materials in the production process; lengthening the useful lives of buildings and structures; improving the kinds of methods used to tear down buildings, and so on. From the standpoint of increasing recycling, individual measures would include: promoting the use of captured heat from waste oil, waste plastic, etc.; increasing efforts to reuse and recycle scrap metal; reducing the use of composite materials; making full efforts to sort materials at the source in factories; promoting recycling through closer interaction with other industries; expanding the use of recyclable materials; standardizing recyclable products; converting sludge into raw material for cement, fertilizers and soil-improvement mixes; developing technologies to remove toxins; investigating and researching on issues aimed at increasing the rate of recycling; and developing and designing products and devices that are amenable to dismantling, sorting and recycling; etc.