Japan - Not content with packaging recycling rates that should be the envy of the Western world, Japan is planning stronger measures which will drive the collection and reprocessing of packaging waste to global highs, according to a new report from PackWebasia.com.
Since the introduction of the Containers and Packaging Law in 1995, Japan`s recycling levels have been rising dramatically, and by 2006 the recycling and recovery rates across the main packaging materials were at record levels: steel cans reached 95 percent recovery rates, glass bottles 90 percent, aluminum 89 percent, paper 60 percent and paper containers for liquid 38 percent.
However it is the plastic sector has seen the most spectacular rate of recovery and reuse with PET rising from less than three percent in 1995 to more than 75 percent by 2006.
"Success is not always a good thing, the cost of collection and recycling of such high volumes of packaging materials has increased parallel to the volume. This has resulted in increased fees being charged on ex-factory shipments – with plastic seeing the highest per kilo fees charged." says Stuart Hoggard, author of the report Mottainai: Packaging & Sustainability in Japan. "This increases the financial burden placed on industry. Both the fees and the government mandated recycling rates are adjusted annually – usually upwards."
Plastic containers other than PET (eg; PP, PE, PS etc) are considered to be the most troublesome in the recycling process, since the containers are frequently made of composite materials which are difficult to separate and reprocess. So, in Japan they are more economically used as feedstock for incineration in coke production furnaces than to be recycled back into plastic containers. Since they are so difficult to recycle, they attract higher production fees.
Although the fee is be split between the plastic container manufacturer and the brand owner, an extra cost of almost US$28,000 is not a small burden to shoulder.
It comes as no surprise therefore that industry should be obsessed with reducing these fees – not through industry pressure groups and government lobbying which might be the European or US approach – but by accepting the fees, and mandatory recycling rates as things which can’t be changed, and looking for alternate ways to work the system in a very Japanese approach.
The Report"Mottainai: Packaging Sustainability in Japan", shows that the Japanese government views the global promotion of Mottainai, the powerful slogan for sustainability, as a mission towards achieving environmental sustainability worldwide. The report focuses on the issues of packaging sustainability as part of the wider socio- political movement. The 116-page report is an invaluable source complete with recycling data tables, graphs, process flow charts and photographs compiled from face to face interviews with key industry players and legislators, researched from a range of secondary materials. Quelle: packwebasia.com