Material flows of end-of-life home appliances in Japan
In Japan, the Law for the Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances came into effect in April 2001. This law aims to introduce appropriate waste treatment and promote the efficient use of resources so that we can achieve a sound material-cycle society. The law introduces a new framework for recycling that places obligations principally on the manufacturers and retailers of home appliances. Material flow analysis of this new framework is essential for evaluation of the system and for finding any problems that may exist. We therefore analyzed the material flows in facilities that recycle electrical home appliances. The mass balances in the recycling facilities were appropriately estimated. Then the potential destinations were surveyed and analyzed, even though the legal framework does not include flows after the recycling facilities. The potential destination after the facilities varies and depends on both the economy and the related regulations. Currently, considerable amounts of recovered materials are exported and recycled. However, the sustainability of these trades is unknown. Therefore, we should keep a close eye on the situation and make sure that our recycling system is adaptable to meet any future changes.