Japan Gets Serious About Recycling

Tokyo -- Based on suggestions from a government advisory group, Japan soon will initiate a 20-year program to recycle more and reduce waste in the country. The advisory group has set a national goal to reduce waste production to 7.3 million tons by 2050, approximately one-tenth of 1996 levels.

Among other things, the long-term plan is to reduce the amount of waste produced in the country, as well as implement garbage sorting and enhanced efforts by producers and consumers to reduce the environmental impact of waste. Planners also are trying to implement information centers to promote cooperation toward waste reduction.

This is not the first move by the country to reduce, re-use and recycle. Last year, the Japanese government passed a law calling on manufacturers to be responsible for dismantling and recycling products such as washing machines, television sets and air conditioners. This year, the government has promised to add cars, computers and microwave ovens to the list. The law also allows for arrests to be made for illegal dumping of household appliances.

Japan produces nearly 460 million tons of waste annually, and Tokyo produces nearly 4 million tons per day, according to the government. Most is attributed to industrial waste. The country also disposes of 51.2 million tons of garbage per year.