Law for Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
(1) Eighty percent of used consumer electric goods discarded by consumers are collected by retailers, and twenty percent by municipal offices.
After collection, almost half of
them are dumped into landfills without being crushed. The other half
are crushed by shredder, and though in some cases certain metal parts
are removed, most of the natural resources contained in used consumer
electric goods are dumped without any utilization.
Current Flow of Disposed Home Appliances (TVs, Refrigerators, Air-Conditioners, and Washing Machines)
(2) We need to reduce wastes and recycle valuable parts and materials and then construct a so-called "closed loop economy" in which used materials can be made into new products. For this purpose, a completely new recycling system is urgently needed. This system should be based on new obligations on manufacturers and retailers.
It can contribute to rational use of natural resources and energy, and also the development of environment-related industries through technology building.
Purpose: The purpose of the law is to take measures to appropriately and smoothly implement collection and recycling home appliances by retailers, manufacturers and importers, then to secure the appropriate disposal of waste and utilization of natural resources, and consequently to contribute to preservation of life environments and sound development of the national economy.
Scope: The objectives for recycling under this law will be specified from among home appliances by government order, according to the following criteria.
- Difficult to be disposed of by municipal offices
- Needs to be recycled because the appliance contains valuable materials that can be recycled
- Designing of a product and selection of materials by the manufacturer determine the feasibility of recycling
- To have retailers collect certain appliances is rational because those sold appliances are delivered by retailers.
Definition of Recycling: The following are defined as recycling.
- Removing parts and materials and then reusing them
- Removing parts and materials and reusing them as fuel (thermal recycling)
Deciding the Basic Plan: In order to comprehensively and steadily promote collection and recycling, the Ministers of Welfare, of International Trade and Industry, and of the Environment Agency are to decide the basic plan and then publicize it.
Roles Played by Those Concerned
(1) Manufacturers and Importers
Obligation to take back Manufacturers or importers have an obligation to take back home appliances which they themselves have manufactured or imported, at previously designated take-back-sites. They are also obliged to appropriately arrange designated take-back-sites to ensure efficient recycling and smooth transfer of those appliances from retailers and municipal offices.
Obligation of Recycling Manufacturers and importers are obliged to recycle used home appliances taken back according to the recycling standards set by the government.
Obligation to take back Retailers are obliged to take back used home appliances when requested in the following two cases.
- When the appliances are those which retailers themselves previously sold to consumers
- When retailers sell the same kind of home appliances to consumers
Obligation to transfer After taking back those appliances, retailers are obliged to transfer them to the relevant manufacturers or importers. When the relevant manufacturers or importers are unknown, retailers are obliged to transfer them to "Independent Bodies."
(3) Consumers Consumers are obliged to cooperate in appropriately transferring used appliances to retailers and so forth in order to ensure recycling, and agreeing to pay necessary fees for transfer and recycling of those appliances.
(4) Municipal offices Municipal offices may transfer to manufacturers or "Independent Bodies" used appliances which they took back from consumers. Municipal offices are permitted to recycle these appliances by themselves.
Manufacturers or importers are able to charge recycling fees to retailers for recycling used appliances taken back from retailers. Recycling fees must not be above the appropriate costs for efficient recycling, and should be set at an appropriate level so as not to discourage discard by consumers.
Retailers are able to charge collection fees and recycling fees to consumers for taking back used appliances from consumers and transferring them to the relevant manufacturers or importers.
Retailers, manufacturers and importers are obliged to publicize their collection or recycling fees. The government must provide appropriate information on recycling. In the case that retailers, manufacturers or importers charge unjustified fees, the government is to order the charger to correct them.
Manifest System: Manifests must be issued by retailers to manufacturers or importers in order to secure reliable transportation.
"Independent Bodies": The government may give special status of "Independent Body" to certain non-profit organizations conducting recycling. Independent Bodies implement the following and other duties.
- Recycling used appliances of which manufacturers or importers are unknown.
- Recycling used appliances when small and medium-sized manufacturers or importers entrust Independent Bodies with recycling
- Collecting used appliances municipal offices or residents find difficult to transfer to manufacturers or importers.
Surveillance of Retailers, Manufacturers and Importers:
In order to ensure that retailers, manufacturers and importers meet their obligations, the Ministers of Welfare and International Trade and Industry are to survey them by reporting and inspections and order their compliance if necessary.
Relation with the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law
The Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law provides for the necessary measures to ensure the preservation of living environments during recycling.
With a view to insuring smooth recycling, exceptions can be granted under this law to allow recycling by manufacturers and importers without the need for them to obtain permission.
Date Law Takes Effect and Reconsideration
Some parts of this law will become effective within six months after the Diet approved it. However, a major part of the law, including the obligations of retailers, manufacturers and importers, will be effective after a three-year transition period.
Five years after the entire law goes into effect, the government will reconsider if necessary whether the whole system is appropriate.