Japan Japan to strengthen plastic recycling to realize circular economy

Both houses passed the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics

On March 9, 2021, the “Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics” was passed by the Cabinet. The bill was then submitted to the 204th ordinary session of the Diet, which was held from January 2021. It was passed by the House of Representatives on May 25, 2021, and by the House of Councilors on June 4, 2021. Since the Act has not yet been promulgated as of June 8, 2021, the exact date of enforcement cannot be specified, but it is expected to come into effect by June or July 2022 at the latest.

 

Background: To promote circular economy in Japan

The importance of further promoting the recycling of plastic resources in Japan is increasing as the economy responds to the marine plastic waste problem, climate change issues, and the tightening of waste import regulations in other countries. In light of this, the Act aims to take measures to promote the recycling of plastic resources by all entities throughout the life cycle of plastic products, from design to waste disposal.

 

Summary of the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics

The Act consists of the following nine chapters (66 articles).

Chapter 1 General Provisions
Chapter 2 Basic Policy, etc.
Chapter 3 Guidelines for the Design of Plastic Products
Chapter 4 Rationalization of Use of Specified Plastic-Using Products
Chapter 5 Sorted Collection and Recycling by Municipalities
Chapter 6 Voluntary Collection and Recycling by Manufacturers, etc.
Chapter 7 Reduction of Discharge and Recycling, etc. by Discharging Business Operators
Chapter 8 Miscellaneous Provisions
Chapter 9 Penalty Provisions

 

Purpose, Basic Policy, and Specific System

Article 1 of the Act stipulates the purpose of the Act as follows

(Purpose)

Article 1

The purpose of this Act is to contribute to the preservation of the living environment and the sound development of the national economy by taking measures such as the rationalization of the use of plastic products, the recycling of waste plastic products by municipalities, and the establishment of a system to promote the voluntary collection and recycling of waste plastic products by business operators, in order to promote the recycling of resources related to plastics in response to changes in the environment surrounding waste plastic products in Japan and abroad.

Therefore, the Act aims to contribute to the conservation of the living environment and the sound development of the national economy through the following.

  1. rationalization of the specifications of plastic products to reduce the waste of plastic products
  2. to promote the recycling of plastics by taking measures to promote recycling by municipalities and voluntary collection and recycling by businesses.

 

Furthermore, in order to comprehensively and systematically promote the recycling of plastic resources, the following items were formulated as the basic policy.

  • Environmentally friendly design that contributes to the reduction of plastic waste discharge and recycling
  • Rationalization of the use of one-way plastics
  • Sorted collection, voluntary collection, and recycling of plastic waste, etc.

 

In addition, the following five measures have been introduced as specific systems.

  1. Formulation of design guidelines for plastic-using products that manufacturers, etc. should strive for, and a certification system for products that comply with these guidelines
  2. Formulation of decision criteria that providers of specific plastics should work on to rationalize the use of plastic products.
  3. A system for the separate collection and recycling of plastic resources by municipalities
  4. A system to promote voluntary collection and recycling by manufacturers, etc.
  5. Formulation of judgment criteria that waste generators of plastic products should work on such as emission control and recycling, and recycling by the generators