#Promotion of #Resource #Efficiency in #Japan through #3R #policies .



The Concept


The Government of Japan, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Environment, is promoting the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to create a sustainable society, one that has balance between the economy and environment.


  • Reduce: reducing the amount of waste by increasing the efficiency of resource use and extending the useful life of products
  • Reuse: using “recyclable resources” form used items again, as products or parts, after giving them proper treatment
  • Recycle: using “recyclable resources” as raw materials to make new products

Japan has embarked on continuous development of a legislative structure geared towards 3Rs, with the emphasis moving to the “front of pipe” or preventative, rather than “end of pipe” solutions to its waste problem.  The development of a “Recycling Oriented Economic System” has created new policies and legislation aimed at overcoming the country’s severe landfill shortage. Japan is revising from a sole focus on hazardous substances management to new phases of greening, especially in the home appliance and electronic sectors.  The 3R Project is to be completed in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Elimination of hazardous chemical substances
  • Phase 2: Recycling
  • Phase 3: Green new product development

Overview of 3R Legislation

Since 2000, various laws relating to waste management and recycling have been enacted or amended. These policy revisions can be categorized into four groups:

  • Basic framework laws
  • Laws for proper waste management and recycling, including the Law for the Promotion and Effective Utilization of Resources (LPEUR) which promotes 3Rs
  • Laws for promoting specific waste recycling, such as the Home Appliances Recycling Law (HARL)
  • The Green Purchasing Law which promotes greater utilization of recycled materials  and requires government bodies to take a lead in procuring environmentally friendly products and materials

Many important regulations regarding recycling have been enacted to ensure the proper management and enforcement of waste disposal.  These laws are listed below:

  • Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources
  • Container and Packaging Recycling Law
  • Home Appliance Recycling Law
  • Construction Material Recycling Law
  • Food Recycling Law
  • End-of-Life Vehicles Recycling Law

The 3R Initiative in Japan aims to reduce waste, encourage recycling, reduce barriers to trade in goods and materials for recycled and remanufactured products, and promote science and technology on these transformation technologies.  3R was initiated by G8 Sea Island Summit 2004 based on the proposal of Japanese Government, and officially launched at the 3R Ministerial Conference held in Tokyo, 2005.  At the conference, 20 countries and international organizations discussed the importance of 3R in the context of sustainable development, agreed to promote 3R within each country, regional and global level, and decided how to promote 3R.

In cooperation with relevant international organizations such as the OECD, the 3R Initiative seeks to:

  • Reduce waste, reuse and recycle resources and products to the extent economically feasible
  • Reduce barriers to the international flow of goods and materials for recycling and remanufacturing, recycled and remanufactured products, and cleaner, more efficient technologies, consistent with existing environmental and trade obligations and frameworks
  • Encourage cooperation among various stakeholders (central governments, local governments, the private sector, NGOs and communities), including voluntary and market-based activities
  • Promote science and technology suitable for 3Rs
  • Cooperate with developing countries in areas such as capacity building, raising public awareness, human resource development and implementation of recycling projects

3R Business Impact

Japanese companies, especially the larger firms, appear to have responded positively to the new policy, legislative and business framework.  Many companies have acknowledged that improved environmental performance is part of a firm’s responsibility and recognized the mutual benefits of eco-efficiency (environment and economy).  A number of companies have established “end of pipe” environmental technology businesses. There has been substantial investment and development of home appliances and office equipment recycling infrastructure.  Additionally, many Japanese companies in these sectors are placing more focus on green product development by setting challenging goals over the next 5-10 years.

Other impacts of 3R on the Japanese business community include:

  • Voluntary 3R initiatives for personal computers (PCs) for business use and photocopiers
  • Integration aspects of the lifecycle assessment (LCA) into standard practices
  • Incorporation of data on materials, chemicals, energy usage and packaging in a broader product-related environmental information system structure
  • Standardization of an environmental accounting approach in corporate environmental reporting

Promotion of Resource Efficiency in Japan
– through 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) policies


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