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Section 7. Handling Large Amounts of Discharged Waste

1. Future Waste Management Policies

(1) Circumstances around wastes and necessity of reforms

The management of wastes has posed serious problems. The amount of wastes generated has increased considerably, while it has become difficult to secure sufficient waste-disposal facilities, especially landfill sites, because of regional disputes concerning the establishment of facilities, etc. Many other problems have also surfaced in efforts to secure appropriate management of wastes, including illegal dumping and dioxins discharged from waste incinerators, etc.

To solve these problems, it has become essential to promote measures for appropriate management of discharged wastes and to reduce discharged wastes to the minimum, endeavoring to shift to "a socioeconomic system with environmentally-sound material cycle" where people try to recycle discharged wastes as far as possible.

(2) Comprehensive examination of waste management policies

To solve these problems and create a society where people can live without anxieties, it is necessary to define the actualities and effects of Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, Law for Recycling of Containers and Packaging, Specified Household Appliance Recycling Law, etc. and comprehensively examine how waste management policies should be in future.

In light of the necessity for comprehensive examination as to how waste management policies should be in the future, the Ministry of Health and Welfare referred "Ideal Waste Management Policies in Future" to the Living Environment Council in October 1998. The matter is currently under discussion at the Waste Management Group of the Living Environment Council.

The reasons for this referring include the necessity for 1 an execution system for waste management, 2 the establishment with the cooperation of the public sector of facilities for safe waste disposal, 3 technical development relating to waste management, and 4 the establishment of a socioeconomic system with environmentally-sound material cycle and appropriate waste management. The details of these are as follows.

As for waste management, incineration continues to be needed for the sake of hygienic treatment of wastes and a reduction of volume for landfill. Accordingly, it continues to be necessary to implement thorough and strengthened measures against hazardous substances including dioxins. Because of this, municipalities and waste management operators are required to introduce more advanced technology for incineration and the treatment of ash from incineration. In the meantime, landfill sites need sound management for a considerably long period until the stabilization of disposed wastes. To promote safer waste management coping with these problems, or the introduction of more advanced technology and sound, long-term management, it has become necessary to realize area-wide cooperation among municipalities and strengthen the role of public sector in industrial waste management. Under such circumstances, the current principles in waste management (municipalities bear the responsibility of management of municipal solid wastes and discharging business entities must manage industrial wastes) have to be maintained in principle while discussions are needed as to how the execution system of waste management should be, in light of the actualities of present waste management.

In the meantime, the safe and reliable methods for the establishment of waste disposal facilities with the cooperation of the national or a prefectural government under the current system may include 1 the establishment of regionally-integrated waste disposal facilities including waste disposal centers, 2 support measures for the construction of waste disposal centers, 3 construction transfer projects by the Japan Environment Corporation, and 4 the installation of regionally-integrated waste landfill sites in the Metropolitan area. Concrete discussions will be needed in future for effectively utilizing these systems as well as the vitality, technology, etc. of the private sector.

Figure 6-7-1. Formation of Socioeconomic System with Environmentally Sound Material Cycle

Formation of Socioeconomic System with Environmentally Sound Material Cycle

For the establishment of safe and reliable waste disposal facilities, it is important to promote technology development relating to waste management. It is essential not only to promote fundamental studies concerning dioxin-control measures, but also to execute researches and technical assessment on a variety of demonstrative experiments including those for the application of traditional technologies such as recycling and treatment to make hazardous substances harmless. Discussions must be made about how such technology development should be promoted.

Furthermore, for controlling in future the generation of wastes needing treatment, it is necessary to introduce a variety of measures to promote recycling and establish a socioeconomic system with environmentally sound material cycle. Even if recycling is promoted, however, wastes needing disposal will never disappear. Therefore, to secure a system for finally disposing them as wastes in an appropriate manner is a primary requisite to the establishment of socioeconomic system with environmentally sound material cycle. Efforts for the establishment of environment where people can live without anxieties have to be promoted with this in mind.

In the future, municipality-related groups, economic circles, labor groups, consumer groups, and waste management operators will be given a hearing and discussions will be made upon subjects including waste management. At the same time, opinion of the general public will be invited through the publication of a waste management white paper, etc. Our examinations are to be based upon such opinion and discussions.

The Ministerial Conference on Dioxin Policy in March 1999 formulated Basic Guidelines for the Promoting of Measures against Dioxins. The guidelines are based upon an idea of reducing the total discharge of dioxins in Japan by around 90% within four years from the volume in 1997. They also require all the staff members at the national government to unite their efforts for the establishment of a socioeconomic system with environmentally sound material cycle, while making every possible effort to realize waste management policies. As for measures concerning waste disposal to be taken immediately for dioxin control, they provide for the following.

1 The principle of discharging business entities bearing the responsibility must be maintained, while the national or the relevant prefectural government shall cooperate in the establishment or the operation of industrial waste disposal facilities. Thus the establishment of facilities for safe and appropriate management shall be smoothly promoted and a new system to that end shall be promptly established.
2 Discussions shall be started concerning how waste management should be in future for promising the people increased peace of mind, while the target of the volume of waste reduction shall be set within half a year.
3 Recycling shall be promoted.
4 Public relations shall be expanded through preparing waste management white paper, etc.
It has been agreed that efforts will be made for early concretization of these principles.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has organized an examination meeting to discuss municipality support, industrial waste control, technology development support and visions on socioeconomic system with environmentally sound material cycle within the ministry. The meeting is proceeding with examination reflecting the deliberations at the Living Environment Council.

2. Enforcement of Amended Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, etc.

(1) Enforcement of Amended Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law

In light of various problems relating to the management of industrial wastes, the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law was amended in 1997, for recovering people's trust in waste disposal and appropriate management of wastes. The amended law was partly enforced in December of the same year. It was then mostly enforced in June 1998, aiming at the clarification of procedure for the establishment of waste disposal facilities, appropriate maintenance and management of facilities, and the restoration of original state of places troubled with illegal dumping, etc.

Furthermore in December of the same year, a provision concerning the expansion of the industrial-waste management form (MANIFEST) system was enforced, which completed the enforcement of the amended law. The MANIFEST system is a system for securing appropriate management of consigned wastes. Under the system, business organizations confirm that industrial wastes they consigned to waste management operators to dispose of have been appropriately treated through accepting the returned MANIFEST. The system had traditionally covered only specially controlled industrial wastes (industrial wastes with toxicity, etc.). As a result of the amendment, the coverage of the system was expanded in principle to cover all industrial wastes. At the same time, a new scheme was introduced to allow business entities, for example, to confirm the conclusion of treatment by means of electronic information, instead of the delivery of MANIFEST in order to make office work of business entities efficient.

(2) Revising waste-landfill standards

In June 1998, standards concerning the structure and maintenance/management of landfill sites were revised for thoroughly preventing the contamination of underground water, etc. by exudation from landfill sites. As a result of the revision, a variety of standards concerning landfill were largely upgraded or clarified. For example, structural standards concerning water interceptors to prevent the exudation of contaminated water into peripheral underground water were considerably raised. In addition, standards concerning quality tests of effluent water, underground water, etc. were raised or clarified.

(3) Securing waste disposal facilities, including landfill sites

Directions for appropriate disposal have traditionally been given to landfill sites for municipal solid wastes. Despite such directions, some cases of inappropriate disposal or storage were observed in some of the municipalities. Because of this, the realities of landfill sites established by municipalities were investigated and the results were announced in March 1998. According to the results, of the 1,901 landfill sites in Japan, 538 did not have a water inceptor or a treatment facility for exudation, excluding those only treating wastes that do not need the treatment of exudation, for example glass refuse. In response, the Ministry of Health and Welfare guided through the relevant prefectural government each of such municipalities to immediately introduce necessary improvements, conduct quality tests of underground water in the periphery and consider and execute necessary measures if any contamination should be observed. Under the first supplementary budget for fiscal 1998, subsidies were given for quality tests of underground water in the periphery of such inappropriate landfill sites, as well as for projects to install a water inceptor or a facility to treat exudation for extending the life of the facility and those for appropriate closure of such facilities. Thus, measures for correcting inappropriate treatment at landfill sites have been promoted.

In principle, the companies discharging industrial waste and waste management operators should prepare industrial waste-disposal facilities, including landfill sites. However, it has become difficult for the private sector to secure sufficient facilities. This has made it important for the public sector to support the development of such facilities in a form that can be understood and accepted by the residents.

Because of this, it has been allowed to designate one civil law-based juridical person in the third sector as the exclusive waste-disposal center in each prefecture. By May 1999, such centers have been designated in eight prefectures; namely Iwate, Niigata, Nagano, Hyogo, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, and Oita. Besides, under the "Law to Promote the Development of Specified Facilities for the Disposal of Industrial Waste", loans and supportive taxation measures have been provided to projects to generally develop multiple disposal facilities and facilities for common uses. Furthermore, the amendment bill to Law Establishing the Japan Environment Corporation was approved at the 145th regular session of the Diet. As a result, the coverage of the construction transfer system of the Japan Environment Corporation was expanded to cover waste-disposal facilities treating municipal solid wastes together with industrial wastes, while it was agreed that technology relating to waste management would be developed utilizing the R&D ability of companies, etc.

3. Measures against Dioxins

(1) Waste incineration and dioxins

Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals produced as a result of incomplete combustion and are generated by various facilities. In Japan, those generated at waste incinerators reportedly account for most of the total volume. Waste incineration, however, cannot be abandoned, because the Japanese land is small and the country is hot and humid, making it necessary to reduce and hygienically treat wastes. In light of this, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has taken measures for controlling the discharge of dioxins from waste incinerators, through formulating "Guidelines to Prevent the Generation of Dioxins", strengthening regulations in compliance with the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, and so forth.

(2) Survey on the emission of dioxins from waste incinerators

The Ministry of Health and Welfare asked municipalities to measure the emission of dioxins from waste incinerators established by municipalities, whose results were successively announced in April, June, and October of 1997 and September of 1998. According to the results, the concentration of discharged dioxins exceeded 80 nanograms (nano = 1/1,000,000,000) per 1 m3, which is the standard for urgent measures, at 114 of the 1,641 facilities that reported. Of the 114 facilities, five facilities have suspended operation and 14 have been closed by the end of June 1998, and eight are to be closed in future. Besides, measures for appropriate management of combustion have been taken at all the other facilities and it has been confirmed that the concentration has lowered to 80 nanograms or lower per 1 m3 at all the 89 facilities where the dioxin was measured again.

In April 1998, high level of contamination by dioxins was detected in soil in the vicinity of a waste incinerator in Toyono District of Osaka Prefecture (Toyono District Clean Center). In light of this, an "Expert Committee on Dioxin Control Technology" was organized in June of the same year under the Waste Management Group of the Living Environment Council, which has striven for finding out the cause through field surveys, etc. As a result, high level of contamination by dioxins detected in the water circulation system, etc. of the device to wash the discharged gas with water (wet smoke washing tower). This proved that the cooling water dispersed from the open-type cooling tower was an important cause for the contamination of peripheral soil, etc.

In light of this, for improved safety, the ministry directed the 37 facilities that had open-type cooling towers to strictly observe the standards presented by the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, etc. and take necessary measures including the replacement of open-type cooling water towers with closed-type towers. These facilities were also required to measure dioxin densities in cooling and soil around the facilities. Such measurement showed that the level of dioxins was high in peripheral soil around some of the facilities, although soil contamination was not of such a wide range or in such a high level compared with the case of Toyono District Clean Center. Such facilities, however, were given strict directions about the handling of sludge generated when cleaning or repair works are conducted.

(3) Measures taken for reducing dioxin discharge

The upgraded standards concerning the structure and maintenance/management of existing waste incinerators will be fully implemented in December 2002. For early reduction of dioxins, it has been agreed that government subsidy will be given under the supplementary budget for fiscal 1998 to projects to construct a waste incinerator that was originally planned for fiscal 1999 and that reaches the standards to be introduced in December 2002.

In the meantime, the enforcement regulations of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law were amended in November 1998, in light of the case of high level dioxin contamination of peripheral soil of the Toyono District Clean Center. Under the amended regulations, measures have to be taken in order that the dispersion or outflow of cleaning or cooling water from wet-type gas treatment facilities will not negatively affect the preservation of living environment. In addition, government subsidies under the supplementary budget for fiscal 1998 can be given to projects, etc. to remodel an open-type cooling tower with possibility of discharging dioxins, as well.

(4) Regionally-integrated management of wastes

In Japan, smaller-scale waste disposal facilities have been constructed compared with those in other nations. It has been agreed, however, that such facilities will be integrated into large-scale facilities and regionally-integrated management of wastes will be promoted. This is because stable combustion conditions necessary for reducing dioxin discharge can be maintained at large facilities, while larger facilities can be constructed at a cheaper unit price, which will lead to a reduction of costs of public projects. Also, remaining heat from combustion can be effectively used at large-scale facilities. The ministry has asked each prefecture to formulate a plan for regionally integrated treatment of wastes by the end of fiscal 1998.

(5) Measures to be taken in future

In fiscal 1999, efforts are to be made for expanding financial support to the construction of waste incinerators for early reduction of dioxins. At the same time, researches and studies on the mechanism of generation of dioxins and technology to control dioxins at waste incinerators will be promoted, while measures will be taken for securing strict observation of upgraded structural and maintenance/management standards of waste incinerators.

4. Promotion of Recycling

To promote reduction and recycling of wastes, as well as to secure appropriate management of wastes, has emerged as an important task for the Japanese waste administration in the last few years. Such a situation was created by various factors including difficulties in securing landfill sites and increased interests of people in waste management and recycling.

(1) Promoting container and package recycling

1 The enactment of Law for Recycling of Containers and Packaging and its background
Changes in lifestyles and product-distribution forms have caused an increase in discharged wastes as well as changes in the quality of such wastes. At present, container and package wastes such as cans, glass bottles, and PET bottles account for around 56% of the total volume of discharged solid wastes and 23% of their weight. However, the recycling rate of solid wastes was only 9.9% in fiscal 1995. In light of such conditions, the "Law for Recycling of Containers and Packaging" was enacted. This law, which aims to promote the preseparation and recycling of containers and packaging, was enforced in April 1997.
2 Conditions of execution of Law for Recycling of Containers and Packaging
By September 1998, preseparated-collection of no-color glass bottles had been introduced into 1,812 municipalities while such a system for brown glass bottles and that for other glass containers had been implemented in 1,817 and 1,741 municipalities, respectively. The preseparation of PET bottles had been implemented in 924 municipalities. All the figures were higher than the equivalent figures for the previous fiscal year. The enforcement of the law is expected to continue contributing to preseparated collection and recycling of glass and PET bottles.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is promoting the development of facilities for recycling (recycling-related facilities) including facilities for storing glass bottles, PET bottles, and so forth that are collected after separation (so-called stockyards). This is part of the efforts to encourage municipalities to introduce preseparated collection. It is anticipated that in the future municipalities and business operators will promote their efforts to comply with the law. In light of this, it is important to promote the establishment of recycling facilities, to stimulate demands for recycled products, and to develop PR and educational activities relating to preseparated collection.
3 Promoting full-scale enactment of Law for Recycling of Containers and Packaging
The application of the law to paper containers and packages other than milk cartons (paper boxes, packaging paper, etc.) and plastic containers and packages other than PET bottles (packages for food, etc.) has been postponed to March 31, 2000. Such paper and plastic containers and packages account for about 80% of total volume of containers and packages. The promotion of preseparated collection and recycling of such containers and packages is sure to result in significant reduction of wastes. Unlike glass and PET bottles, however, they have following problems.
(a) Municipalities have hardly made any efforts for their preseparated collection.
(b) They are used as packages and containers for a variety of products.
(c) The number of business operators subject to the law will increase markedly, because the law in and after 2000 covers medium and small business operators, as well.

In light of these, the national and municipal governments are proceeding with preparations for full-scale enforcement of the Container and Package Recycling Law in 2000. As for the separation method, it has been agreed that paper containers and packages will be divided into two types, namely corrugated cardboard containers & packages and others, while plastic containers and packages will be collected all together (white styrofoam trays for foods can be collected separately). In the meantime, it is assumed that corrugated cardboard containers and packages will be used as materials for corrugated cardboard, etc. and other paper containers and packages as materials for paper or solid fuel. Plastic containers and packages can be used as materials for plastic products or reproduced into reducing agents used in iron manufacturing, oil, gas, etc.

(2) Establishing Specified Household Appliances Recycling Law

Some of the bulk wastes are difficult for municipalities to treat, including waste home electric appliances, and have caused difficulties in securing sufficient final disposal sites. In light of this, Specified Household Appliances Recycling Law was proclaimed in June 1998 to secure effective reduction and recycling of waste home electric appliances, etc. As for wastes that cannot be easily recycled, the law requires retailers to take them back and manufacturers to recycle them at a designated proportion or higher.

The full-scale enforcement of the law, which imposes an obligation of taking back and delivery upon retailers and that of taking back, recycling, etc. upon manufacturers, is to be realized in fiscal 2001. The four types of specified home appliances that are covered by the law on the full-scale enforcement of the law are unit-type air conditioners for home uses (window-type and separate-type), TV receiving sets, refrigerators, and washing machines. Government and ministerial ordinances, etc. necessary for full-scale enforcement are to be established in fiscal 1999.

Figure 6-7-2. Scheme of Specified Household Appliances Recycling Law

Scheme of Specified Household Appliances Recycling Law

5. Waste Management Policies in Large City Areas

In large city areas such as the Metropolitan and Kinki areas, it has become difficult for each municipality to secure landfill sites independently due to the concentration of population and economic activities, advanced uses of land, and so forth. Thus, it has become necessary to secure a regionally-integrated landfill site for each area as a whole. In response, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is promoting a development program of sea reclamation landfill sites to be used trans-regionally by several prefectures (Project Phoenix) in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, in compliance with the Law for Bay Area Marine and Environment Consolidation Centers.

In the Kinki area, wastes generated in 168 municipalities in six prefectures have been dumped into the two landfill sites offshore of Amagasaki and Izumi-otsu since fiscal 1989 under the "Project Phoenix - Osaka Bay". In fiscal 1995, the two sites accepted about 30% of the final disposal amount of municipal solid wastes generated in the subject area. Thus the two disposal sites have played an important role in stable disposal of wastes in the Kinki area. Since landfilling of the management-type lot accepting municipal solid wastes is likely to be completed in fiscal 2000, changes have been made in the basic plan, including the location of a new disposal site offshore of Kobe at the end of fiscal 1996.

As for the Metropolitan area, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Transport formulated the "Basic Conception of Project Phoenix?Tokyo Bay" in April 1987 and presented it to the related seven prefectures and cities. At the Metropolitan summit consisting of the governors of the seven prefectures and cities, discussions have been made upon regionally integrated waste management. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has conducted researches upon the preparation of regionally integrated landfill sites in the Metropolitan area and endeavored for the realization of the Project Phoenix in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport.

At the Metropolitan summit in fiscal 1998, it was agreed that the establishment of a regionally integrated landfill site covering domestic wastes of multiple prefectures will be considered and discussed when the necessity of such a facility is confirmed as a result of periodical researches and discussions concerning the residual capacity and future outlook of landfill sites.

6. Promoting the Installation of Domestic Waste-Water Treatment System
(Gappei-Shori Johkasou)

The water pollution in water sources for water supply system, closed or semi-closed water bodies, and so forth has become a serious social problem in recent years. One of the main causes for such pollution is domestic wastewater. However, only slightly over 60% of domestic wastewater discharged in Japan is given appropriate treatment. It is therefore now being strongly required that gappei-shori johkasou that can treat both night soil and domestic wastewater be introduced. Gappei-shori johkasou can be installed at individual residences without being affected by geographical features and in a short period of time. Thus, they are effective domestic wastewater treatment facilities, particularly in regions in which residents are scattered over wide areas.

(1) Toward prohibiting the installation of flush toilet wastewater treatment system
(Tandoku-shori johkasou)

Tandoku-shori johkasou discharge untreated domestic wastewater as it is and their efficiency in treating night soil is lower than that of gappei-shori johkasou. Because of these, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is promoting a variety of efforts aiming to stop new installations of tandoku-shori johkasou. The percentage that gappei-shori johkasou comprise of all newly installed johkasou rose steadily from 10.0% in fiscal 1989 to 41.0% in fiscal 1997. Differentials among regions, however, are extremely large. The national and local governments, as well as other concerned organizations, are promoting comprehensive measures to eliminate such differentials.

(2) The systematic and efficient installation of gappei-shori johkasou

The Promotion Project for Gappei-shori Johkasou Installation was actively implemented in over 2,200 municipalities in fiscal 1998. It has been decided that in this fiscal year, ideas in the calculation of standard value of government subsidies concerning the project will be revised for more effective installation of such johkasou. In the meantime, the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Project for Specified Area was implemented, which requires municipalities themselves to install gappei-shori Johkasou in water sauces for water supply system. Thus, widespread installation of gappei-shori Johkasou has been promoted. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Construction have cooperatively implemented the Promotion Project for Cooperative Development of Domestic Wastewater Treatment Facilities. The purpose of this project is to further promote systematic and efficient development of domestic wastewater treatment facilities such as gappei-shori Johkasou, rural sewerage facilities, and sewerage systems.

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