Current results and future perspectives for Japanese recycling of home appliances

Aizawa, H.; Yoshida, H.; Sakai, S. (2008) Resources, Conservation and Recycling , 52: 1339-1410

The Japanese system of recycling home electrical appliances has several unique aspects, including (1) a limited number of target appliances, (2) a recycling fee system that requires consumers to pay a recycling fee at the time of disposal, and (3) a direct recycling obligation for manufacturers, who have a physical, rather than a financial, responsibility for their end-of-life products. We studied data from 2001 to 2007 and found that the amount of four specified home electrical appliances and their materials that was recycled increased from about 319,249 tonnes in 2001 to about 447,262 tonnes--or 3.5 kg per inhabitant--in 2006. Recycling yield and development of recycling technologies have also improved. New recycling technologies have enabled a higher rate of material recycling of plastics (i.e., a closed-loop recycling). Improved eco-design, such as design for easier disassembly, has been promoted, and the higher quality of discarded appliances has enhanced the reuse market. Hazardous substances and fluorocarbons are being well managed. Problems with the recycling system include inelastic recycling fees, illegal dumping, illegal transfer by retailers, and the limited number of target appliances. Recycling fees could be reduced; this move might reduce the incidence of illegal dumping, as would engage stakeholders in collaborative efforts against illegal dumping. Illegal transfers could be reduced by improved traceability for retailers. Products such as liquid crystal displays, plasma display panels and clothes dryers have become increasingly common and should be also be targeted for recycling.


Eco-design; Material Flow Analysis; WEEE; Recycle; Reuse; Recycling policy