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Global Watch Missions DTI Global Watch Missions enable small groups of UK experts to visit leading overseas technology organisations to learn vital lessons about innovation and its implementation of benefit to entire industries and individual organisations. By stimulating debate and informing industrial thinking and action, missions offer unique opportunities for fast-tracking technology transfer, sharing deployment know-how, explaining new industry infrastructures and policies, and developing relationships and collaborations.
Around 30 missions take place annually, with the coordinating organisation receiving guidance and financial support from the DTI Global Watch Missions team. Views expressed reflect a consensus reached by the members of the mission team and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisations to which the mission members belong, Mini-Waste Faraday Partnership or DTI.
Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and objective viewpoint of this report, and information is provided in good faith, no liability can be accepted for its accuracy or for any use to which it might be put.
Comments attributed to organisations visited during this mission were those expressed by personnel interviewed and should not be taken as those of the organisation as a whole.
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this report is accurate and up to date, DTI accepts no responsibility whatsoever in relation to this information. DTI shall not be liable for any loss of profits or contracts or any direct, indirect, special or consequential loss or damages whether in contract, tort or otherwise, arising out of or in connection with your use of this information.
This disclaimer shall apply to the maximum extent permissible by law. Cover picture: Pera. The DTI drives our ambition of prosperity for all by working to create the best environment for business success in the UK. We help people and companies become more productive by promoting enterprise, innovation and creativity.
We champion UK business at home and abroad. We invest heavily in world-class science and technology. We protect the rights of working people and consumers. And we stand up for fair and open markets in the UK, Europe and the world. Waste electrical and electronic equipment WEEE : innovating novel recovery and recycling technologies in Japan. List of exhibits Glossary. Background According to Japanese government sources1, as much as million tonnes t of waste is generated every year, of which 50 million t is municipal solid waste MSW , and the number of final disposal sites is rapidly dwindling.
There is also a recognised problem of increasing environmental damage being caused through waste disposal such as increasing global warming, decreasing air quality and long-term environmental effects of hazardous substances.
In addition forecasted resource constraints are beginning to impact on manufacturing costs in Japan, not least due to the close proximity of materials-hungry neighbours such as China and Korea. Consequently the Japanese government instigated a formal programme of sustainable development based on the 3Rs reduce, reuse, recycle in the s2 and a framework of recycling laws was established during to , ranging from packaging, home appliances, food, construction and end-of-life EoL vehicles.
The mission team were representatives of the Mini-Waste Faraday Partnership, which is one of 24 Faraday Partnerships funded by UK government and the research councils. The Partnership is developing improved contacts between industry and academia within the UK in the field of resource productivity and waste minimisation in the five key sectors of food, construction, mining and minerals, metals and electronics.
The team represented a cross-section of the industry both in size large UK nationals and small to medium enterprises SMEs and sectors waste collection and logistics, eco-design, plastics recovery, WEEE and mobile phone recycling. Six of the mission team are part of a small core team forming a network of industrial members set up, under the auspices of the DTI Global Watch Service and the new Resources Efficiency Knowledge Transfer Network, to promote post-consumer plastic recovery and reuse.
A secondary objective of the mission was to consolidate the strategy and objectives of this group. The mission The substance of this report is based on the effect and application of the Japanese Home 1 2. Several mission participants also had a half-day visit to the International Plastic Fair at Makuhari Messe.
For example, Sharp has in production one of the first electronic devices featuring active disassembly using smart materials ADSM for shape-memory polymer components. The main thrust of the mission was to visit as many recycling facilities as possible to look at technology and understand any major differences in philosophy.
As previously mentioned the main driver for recycling is legislative as enshrined in. This law was formulated in the late 90s and had a wide consultative process within the industry. Hence when the law was finally enacted in most of the major manufacturers had already instigated the policy within their organisations, and in at least one instance visited by the mission had started to build recycling facilities, although these would be better described as disassembly factories.
The major original equipment manufacturers OEMs split into two groups imaginatively called Group A and Group B to build recycling capabilities. These groups set up joint ventures JVs with each other, with one partner being responsible for and running the facility as the major shareholder and the other. They also invite the minor producers to join their consortia depending on the location of the particular facility.
Broadly speaking, Japanese society and its legislature are very environmentally friendly. They commissioned a study and then enacted a Basic law for a Recycling-Based Society June which acted as an umbrella for a number of related laws.
Exhibit S. However, HARL is the most concise and universally applied as it currently covers Japans four major home appliances: air conditioning units, fridges, washing machines and televisions TVs defined as cathode ray tubes CRTs , not liquid crystal displays LCDs which were only just coming onto the market at that time. The cost of financing HARL is borne by the consumer, directly and transparently, through a system of unified, government-set charges Exhibit S.
The key strength of the system is that the recycling centres get a very clean segregated waste stream and have very detailed information regarding the appliance composition and manufacturing method because they have the assembly blueprints from the original build in many cases they can scan in the model ID or serial number to have a precise design specification. There will be a major difficulty in applying a similar system in the UK where this kind of information may not be available.
In the case of redundant or scrapped appliances the system is similar except in a few minor details. If consumers have details of where the appliance was originally purchased they can require the store to take the appliance back. If the store is not known, no longer trading or too far away, they can contact a dedicated collection unit to come and pick the item up. For example, in the case of TVs this service is provided by the Post Office.
As mentioned, the system is financed by consumers, who buy a multipart docket or manifest from the Post Office. The consumer keeps the top copy and sticks the remaining docket package on the appliance; when it is collected another copy is filed; at the stockyard another copy is removed; likewise at the recycling centre; and finally the last copy is sent to a central data collection authority.
At any point in the proceeding any of the participants can check where the appliance is. This proves to be a very concise and simple audit trail and there is evidence that consumers do check with the data recording body that their particular appliance has been disposed of responsibly.
A flow sheet is shown in Exhibit S. In the case of replacement equipment the shop is required to take back the replaced appliance. The retailer will arrange for the.
The consumer can make sure that the discarded home appliance has been handed over to the manufacturer. If a retailer hands over a used home appliance directly to the manufacturer, the retailer issues a manifest to the manufacurer. Surprisingly, METI which has overall responsibility insists that fly-tipping to avoid paying the disposal charge is virtually unheard of. Within the legislation the government has set strict targets for the amount of material recovered for each group of appliances Exhibit S.
These targets have a tight definition of what counts as recovered, with the fraction of any appliance being reused due to refurbishment, social reuse, sold on to third parties as being disallowed. Recycling is defined as the total weight of waste sold for recycling or reuse divided by the total input.
The targets were set following consultation with industry, obviously based on industry knowledge of the average material weights of components in each type of appliance Exhibit S.
There is no requirement for the recycling centre to achieve better figures but all routinely do, prompting speculation that the government may increase the targets in the future in light of significant year-on-year improvements from the recycling centres. When METI was directly asked if this was likely, it replied that it was very pleased with the results and, as self regulation was clearly still delivering improvements, it didnt want to punish recyclers by imposing stricter targets in the near future.
Again this could be seen as a crucial difference between Japan and the UK. Due to having a well-defined collection system and only looking at four groups of appliances, segregation and cleanliness of operation was impressive.
A standard stillage cage appears to be used to deliver appliances to site and obviously makes transportation and storage modular and compact. Crucially it delivers appliances to recycling centres in. Industrial investment The regulations were broadly created in consultation with industry and widely disseminated with a guaranteed implementation date.
Consequently the major players such as the large electronic manufacturers had plenty of time to put measures in place. Indeed some facilities were already constructed and in operation before the laws were enacted. The system of payment by the consumer guaranteed a revenue stream for the recycling centres. Finally, by close cooperation the major suppliers set up JV companies thereby limiting their exposure to financial risk and reducing their capital expenditure.
Vertical integration with the parent organisation also made recycling easier ie cheaper and quicker and gave a ready market for recovered materials. This closed-loop system is seen as a virtuous cycle by Japanese companies and features prominently in their annual corporate responsibility reports of which they are all justifiably proud.
That said, the industry has still invested heavily in the 46 or so recycling centres throughout the country, as can be seen by the capital investment numbers mentioned in individual visit reports later in this document. Essentially, the Group A and Group B consortia operate similarly designed plants using similar basic technologies. The appliances are treated on dedicated lines with 7.
The amount of manual handling and disassembly was surprisingly high but obviously very efficient. Some typical examples quoted were nine minutes for a TV, 12 minutes for a fridge and 24 minutes for an air conditioner.
The use of sophisticated data logging systems for what are essentially waste handling sites was in evidence with many able to provide real-time information such as units per hour and weight of each material recovered.
The residual technologies to separate the various materials were generally tried and trusted such as shredding, magnetic and eddy-current separation, plastic air and density flotation but were applied to very clean, concentrated feedstock, hence delivered impressive separation results. There was evidence of some innovative technology in the area of plastic separation but this is available and understood in Europe.
Disassembly was mainly manual as mentioned with the only robot technology seen being a hot-wire separator to divide funnel glass from tube glass on some of the TV lines. Obviously mechanically assisted manual handling was common with the favoured equipment being intelligent sensorcontrolled motorised conveyors and vacuum lift devices. Gas recovery equipment from fridges and air conditioners was the common vacuum extraction system but rigorously applied using loss-in-weight detection to make the process semiautomatic.
The companies were at great pains to point out this technology at each facility as they are clearly very sensitive to any climate change gas issue this is possibly 8. Conversely, incineration of any finally unrecoverable waste stream was generally seen as acceptable and good practice. Due to the almost non-existence of CRT manufacture in Japan now that LCD TVs are the dominant equipment manufactured disposal of leaded glass from TVs is starting to prove difficult, with most being considered for export to China and some starting to be used as a silica slagging agent in lead smelters or other pyrometallurgical processes.
Also the use of JV companies with no intellectual property right IPR concerns allowed design for disassembly to be explored. Already the number of separate parts in appliances was falling allowing easier recycling. Some companies were putting brand-new appliances through the recycling centres to determine how they could be designed for disassembly, using time-and-motion type studies to determine choke points in the process. As yet there was little evidence of active disassembly components being used to reduce the manual dismantling operation but clearly some companies such as Sharp had development programmes in place.
None of the processes observed to recycle appliances was revolutionary bearing in mind we were only seeing a snapshot of. The key difference is that there is very close vertical integration between the legislators, consumers, manufacturers, recyclers and the supply chain and logistics. With only a few appliances being legislated for in Japan this is clearly easier than the European WEEE directive philosophy.
Conclusions Japanese companies and stakeholders covered by and involved in implementing HARL are developing advanced knowledge of how to run recycling systems the legal system, infrastructure, plants and logistics: the HARL system has been running since and many of the recycling plants since This has been done through a strategic approach that involved government METI , investors and industry. In addition it was reinforced that eco-design and particularly design for disassembly is being implemented by a number of the companies visited see also the eco-design report3.
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