Recycling in Japan

Recycling in Japan (リサイクル, Risaikuru) is based on the Japanese Container and Packaging Recycling Law. Plastic, paper, PET bottles, aluminium and glass are collected and recycled. Japan’s country profile in Waste Atlas shows that in 2012 Recycling Rate was 20.8%.[1]

Container and Packaging Recycling Law

Also called Law for the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging, has been enforced since April 1997 by the Ministry of the Environment to reduce the waste of glass containers, PET bottles and paper cartons. Since April 2000 plastic containers and packages other than PET bottles have been included.[2] According to the law, the recycling is conducted by the Japanese Container and Package Recycling Association (JCPRA) (財団法人日本容器包装リサイクル協会, Zaidan-hōjin Nihon-yōki-hōsō-risaikuru-kyōkai), a government-designated organization established September 25, 1996.[3]

Recycling 2009[4]
ProductVolume of recycling
since 2000
Recycling unit costs
¥ / kg
since 2000
Glass bottles, no color155,076-16.04%4.1-1.23%
Glass bottles, brown133,560+43.62%5.5-28.40%
Glass bottles, other107,383+10.09%9.2+13.64%
PET bottles257,906+167.03%1.7-98.09%
  • The consumers are required to follow sorting guidelines established by the municipalities.
  • The sorted waste is then collected by the municipalities and stored for collecting by the recycling company.
  • Manufactures and business entities using containers and packages have to pay a recycling fee to the JCPRA, in accordance with the volume they manufacture or sell.
  • Each year recycling business entities are selected by a public bidding in every local municipality where a waste storage site is located. They are assigned to collect and transport the waste from the storage sites to recycling facilities. To make sure the waste is getting recycled, these recycling business entities receive payment only after showing a delivery report, signed by the recipient of the recycled products.

Recycling of steel cans is not regulated by the law, but in 2006 about 99% of the municipalities collected and recycled them.[5] In 1973 the Japan Steel Can Recycling Association (スチール缶リサイクル協会, Suchiiru-kan Risaikuru kyōkai), a non-profit organization to promote the recycling of steel cans, had been established. According to its statistics 88.1% of steel cans have been recycled in 2006, maintaining the world's highest level.[5]

Other recycling laws


Recycling symbols used in Japan
Paper (, Kami)
Plastic (プラ, Pura)
Aluminum (アルミ, Arumi)
Steel (スチール, Suchiiru)
PET bottles

Recycling plans

On March 25, 2008 the Japanese Cabinet approved a plan that targets to reduce the total waste from about 52 million tons in 2007 to about 50 million tons in 2012 and to raise the waste recycling rate from 20 to 25%. Thermal recycling and a charging system for waste disposal services will be promoted.[6]

3R Initiative

This G8 initiative, first proposed at the G8 Summit in June 2004, aims to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste.[7] At the G8 Environmental Minister Meeting in Kobe on May 24–26, 2008, the ministers agreed about the Kobe 3R Action plan. It intends to improve resource productivity, to establish an international sound material-cycle society and to bring forward 3Rs capacity in developing countries.[8][9] According to this plan, Japan also announced a New Action Plan towards a Global Zero Waste Society, aimed to establish material cycle societies internationally.[10]


In January 2008 five paper companies in Japan were accused of misleading customers about the recycled paper content of their products. Oji Paper, the largest paper company in Japan, admitted that its copy and print paper contained 5 to 10% recycled paper, instead of the 50% stated. The president of Oji Paper apologized to its customers, and the president of Nippon Pages, the second largest paper company in Japan, resigned to take responsibility. The Japanese Fair Trade Commission said it would investigate.[11]

See also


  1. Waste Atlas(2012). Country Data: JAPAN
  2. "Container and Packaging Recycling Law" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment, Japan. 2005-01-05. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  3. "JCPRA Profile". JCPRA. Archived from the original on October 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  4. "Recycling statistic". JCPRA. Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  5. "Japan Maintains World's Highest Steel Can Recycling Rate: 88.1% in 2006". 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  6. "MOE Sets Targets to Reduce Waste, Increase Waste Power Generation and Recycling by 2012". 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  7. "The 3R Initiative". Ministry of the Environment, Japan. 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  8. "G8 Environmental Minister Meeting". Ministry of the Environment, Japan. 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  9. "Kobe 3R Action Plan" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment, Japan. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  10. "Japan's New Action Plan towards a Zero Waste Society" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment, Japan. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  11. McCurry, Justin (2008-01-18). "Recycling scandal hits Japan". London: Retrieved 2008-11-16.
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