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Japan looks at 'shared responsibility'

In June, Japan's parliamentary body, the Diet, passed legislation whereby product manufacturers, importers and retailers will share the "responsibility" for container recycling beginning in 1997, according to Raymond Communications' Recycling Laws International.

Although all the details haven't been made clear cities will present plans to Japan's prefectures and finally to the Ministry of Health & Welfare. Within two years aluminum steel and glass must be collected plastics and paper by 1998. The plan appears to hinge on increases in garbage fees based on volume with recycling being mandatory. Price increases on products sold to consumers is expected to be relatively small at least at the outset. Japan's industries currently recycle at about 40% of waste but municipalities only recaptured about 3.4% in 1991 (latest figure). It appears that thermal chemical and other types of non-mechanical recycling will be feasible under the plan.

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