Japan gets to work recycling ELVs – air-bags, fluorocarbons and ASR targeted

Japan’s regulations on the country’s waste disposal system have been tightened and dumping of industrial waste has become a social issue. Meanwhile, landfill operators are facing increasing operating costs, as well as growing opposition from residents throughout the country. Because of this the number of new landfill sites has decreased sharply.

Daily Yomiuri reports that tne obvious solution to this problem is to reduce the amount of waste buried at such sites. And this is the main reason for the government’s launching of a new recycling law that is changing the conventional recycling system for so-called end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). The Law on Recycling End-of-Life Vehicles passed the Diet in July. It requires manufacturers and importers of motor vehicles to recycle three items from old vehicles before they are disposed of: air bags, fluorocarbons used in air conditioners and automobile shredder residue (ASR), which includes plastics, rubber, fabric, glass and other materials used in making cars. Most ASR is buried at landfill sites.

“Vehicles are the latest consumer item to be subjected to a recycling law,” said Koji Kobayashi of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry’s Automobile Division. “The ELV recycling law completes a series of laws that began with household appliances and containers (such as plastic bottles and cans).”

Kobayashi said that to minimize the government’s involvement in the plan, only three items have been highlighted because they are particularly difficult to recycle in an economically viable way.

The recycling law, which is expected to be fully implemented from around the end of 2004, also requires vehicle owners to bear the cost of recycling the three items. The fees will be set by individual car manufacturers or importers. Rough estimates anticipate a cost of 20,000 yen (£105) per vehicle, but the amount will vary depending on vehicle type and weight.

Under the new law, recycling fees will be collected when new vehicles are sold. For vehicles purchased before the law is implemented, fees will be charged when car owners bring in their vehicles for their first shaken mandatory maintenance inspection. Collected fees will be managed by a third-party fund management corporation.

The number of vehicles in use continues to increase. Automobile ownership stood at more than 70 million last year, an increase of about 10 million from 1993. Although the average period of vehicle ownership has been increasing gradually to about 10 years, about 5 million vehicles are discarded every year. Of them, about 1 million are sold to overseas buyers.

The government expects a surplus in recycling fees mainly due to funds collected for used vehicles sold overseas. This surplus will be used in part to finance efforts by local governments to clean up illegal dump sites. In preparation for the law’s implementation, a series of panel meetings has been held to iron out issues like the criteria for recycling vehicles.

At the meeting, the government revealed that the current recycling rate for ELVs is 81 percent to 84 percent, by weight. This figure excludes ASR, which makes up about 18 percent of ELV components. According to the government, about 550,000 to 750,000 tons of ASR is generated each year. The government hopes the implementation of the law will increase the recycling rate for ELVs to 95 percent by 2015. One of the law’s main targets is to reduce the volume of ASR that is buried in landfills.

Until now, statistics on automobile recycling had been limited. Vehicles generally contain a wealth of recyclable parts, such as engines and bodies, as well as useful materials like metals, giving them a high market value. Automobile parts recycling has created an industry of about 80,000 car repair shops and 5,000 dismantlers, in addition to fluorocarbon recoverers and shredder operators that process end-of-life vehicles. Under the new scheme, fluoro

Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin #06-2003: February 23
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
Email do Autor: kit@residua.com

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