Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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Recycling Policy
Overview of 3R Policies
Creating a Sustainable Economic System based on the 3Rs
Japan has undergone a long period of economic growth based on mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal. But as a result, the country is facing environmental constraints today, such as shortages of landfill sites for waste, and resource constraints, such as the threat of future depletion of mineral resources. These constraining factors could become a burden on economic growth. For Japan to stay on a sustainable development path in the future, we have to urgently address the waste and recycling problems. But rather than just seeing these problems as constraining factors on economic growth, we should tackle them proactively. They present opportunities for a new type of economic growth. It is an urgent challenge to create new sustainable economic systems based on the 3Rs (see note) that enable both the environment protection and the economic growth.

Basic approaches for creation of sustainable economic system were summarized in a report of the Industrial Structure Council in 1999 entitled Toward Creation of a Recycling-Oriented Economic System (Recycling-Oriented Economic Vision). It emphasized the importance of expanding from the original single R (recycle) to the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). The report also established rules on what should be expected of businesses, citizens, local governments, and other entities in undertaking the 3Rs. In addition, it encouraged the use of market mechanisms through the strength of the private sector, and the creation and expansion of new recycling-oriented and environmental businesses, by focused investment into research and development of 3R technologies.

Steady improvements have been made in the legislative structure dealing with waste and recycling, based on the results of this type of thinking. In addition, METI calls on industry to make voluntary efforts, and has released a set of guidelines on recycling for items and industries not subject to the said laws and regulations. Meanwhile, METI also supports efforts through local governments to foster environmental industries as new industries, as in the example of Eco Town projects.

NOTE;What is a "Sustainable Economic System based on the 3Rs"?
A sustainable economic system based on the 3Rs pursues environmental protection as well as economic growth. Many modern socio-economic systems fail to pay adequate attention to environmental and resource constraints. In a sustainable society based on the 3Rs, these constraints are properly reflected in social rules and behavioral norms, and built into industrial and economic activities.

3R Policies
- Overview of 3R Policies
- Key Issues and Current Status
- Japan's Progress Toward a Sustainable Society
- Eco Town Program
- Local 3R Support Program
- Awards Programs
- METI Recycling Guidelines
- Identification
- October is "3R Month" in Japan
Industrial Structure Council
White Papers and Other Report
Information materials
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Last Update: May 10, 2006
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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