In an effort to shift to sustainable systems Japan has successively worked to establish a recycling system that addresses mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal. With the support of the government, which has supported the development of recycling technologies and the introduction of 3R equipment, we have obtained successful results in our initial purpose of tackling waste reduction. Companies have also made efforts to support the steady implementation of the various recycling schemes, leading to the creation of growth and employment opportunities in recycling-related industries.
Due to population decline and industrial structural changes, the domestic recycling business environment will be increasing in its severity. On the other hand, expansion of the waste management and recycling fields in emerging countries and new international trends such as European Resource Efficiency will provide a new range of business opportunities for Japan′s recycling-related industries. In order to promote the recycling industry as a growing industry in Japan, this report comments on directions for policies that capture the demands of emerging countries, expand utilization of recycled materials, link up the arterial industry with the venous industry, create important new business models, etc.
This paper illustrates future prospects for Japanese recycling businesses. Major recycling enterprises are expected to grow in scale and eventually cover multiple municipal areas and a wider range of waste items. Their activities will take low carbonization into account and there are also plans to head into global markets.
In the process of its upcoming development, Japan′s recycling industry must tackle unconventional challenges, such as mergers or alliances between waste processors and scrap processors, establishment of calculating methods for low carbonization effects of recycling, and promotion of understanding regarding appropriate costs for waste management among Asian countries.
Scale growth, low carbonization and globalization will bring positive impacts on the evolution of Japanese recycling businesses, which will face harsh competition within the global market. By and large, optimistic faith in future developments will help realize a healthy growth for this industry. In order to achieve market expansion and pursue profits, industry participants in the public and private sectors will need to share the grand design for future prospects in the recycling arena.
By studying the qualitative and quantitative data of current recycling businesses, we can gain better understanding and deeper insight into the transformation of this robust industry.
Under the current Waste Management Act, municipalities manage household waste, while industrial waste is sent for treatment by generators. Although our policy is to turn waste into resources in order to establish a circular economy, current regulations are very strict on both generators and recyclers, which means there is almost no incentive to limit incineration and/or reduce landfilling with recyclable materials. It is obviously necessary to improve the waste management system. One key to the circular economy is creating incentives for generators to assign reliable recyclers with respect to certain recyclable materials. To do this, the terms “recyclable material” and “reliable recycler” must first clearly be defined and specified. We have a long history whereby paper, iron, glass and cloth recyclers have been under reasonable regulations as compared to other waste recyclers. Examples of “reasonable regulations” include the fact that generators do not have to issue manifest at the time of waste delivery and recyclers can transport and/or recycle the waste without a waste business license. I suggest here that an additional category of recyclers needs to be regulated, by similarly reasonable regulations, on the condition that these recyclers are able to produce secondary raw materials under established treatment standards.
Since all modern economic activities are based on financial systems, changing to more environment-friendly flows of money would certainly be meaningful for the creation of a sustainable society. By applying appropriate environmental incentives through financial markets, environment-friendly finance serves as a mechanism for motivating companies and individuals to adopt behavior that prioritizes the environment. This is why ecologically sound finance programs have been drawing considerable attention recently in Japan and why Principles for Financial Action for the 21st Century (PFA) was launched among a wide range of financial institutions in 2011.
In terms of how this relates to recycling businesses, the roles of such green finance outfits fall into two main categories : First, financial institutions contribute to the strengthening of a specific sector′s business model by providing assessments relevant to investments and loans for supplying funds. Second, the expansion of responsible investment and environmental-rating loans could give the business sector (i.e. waste generators) positive incentives for improvement, not only in waste management but also indirectly in the business environment for the advanced 3R sector.
ReNet Japan, Inc. obtained national certification under the Small Appliances Recycling Law in January 2014, when it first began to collect computers and other small appliances employing the internet and delivery services. The business has aggressively been collaborating with municipalities and has achieved excellent results through the development of public-private partnerships. A demonstration program, showing how the free PC and small appliances recovery works, was carried out in Kyoto City between May and June of 2015. This clearly showed that the free recovery system is highly effective, with 1 % of the total households using the system in just two months.
The Basic Act for the Promotion of the Recycling-Oriented Society was officially enforced in January 2001 as a means of promoting a more recycling-oriented society. This led to an expectation that a new venous industry would be established, through a merger between the recycling and the waste treatment industries, which could thoroughly and safely treat large amounts of industrial waste being discharged from business activities. Fifteen years have since passed, however, and this is still in the developmental stages. The venous industry is strongly connected to the arterial industry as one, and they are also stakeholders.
Now, faced with population decline and an aging society, many of the domestic manufacturing industries have begun to shift their production bases to Asia where economic growth is predicted. Japan′s own venous industry, as a partner of the manufacturing industry, has had to get educated on opportunities in the Asian marketplace. It is not only foreign manufacturing industries entering the Asian region but also major Western recycling companies. Japan′s venous industry will undoubtedly be competing with major Western recyclers in the future and companies will need to expand the scale of their business to compete with foreign companies on an equal footing.
Overseas expansion of the Japanese waste industry is not new, it began with septic tank sales for waste water treatment along with small incinerators for medical waste. However, Japan′s high prices were not competitive compared to cheaper foreign products. This article makes suggestions about how Japan′s recycling industry can expand into Asian markets. The paper begins with Asia′s economic development situation and describes the increasing amounts of waste now being seen. It goes on to show how markets in the recycling industry are growing. Recently waste management projects that use large incinerators coupled with power generation are on the rise in large Asian cities. There is a description of how business schemes and ordering systems are different from the Japanese domestic market. Finally, the paper proposes optimal strategies for how the Japanese recycling industry shows its superiority, reviews the policy of the Ministry of the Environment, emphasizes the importance of city-to-city cooperation in assisting overseas expansion for the private sector as well as internationalization among Japanese consultants in order to support the procedure for placing orders used in Asian cities.