Old appliances illegally shipped: Japan

Old appliances illegally shipped: Japan

Nearly 10 per cent of four kinds of used home appliances covered by recycling law are suspected to have been exported illegally, while only about two-thirds of such appliances have been disposed of by means required by the law, it has been learned.

The situation has come to light through estimates by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Environment Ministry and other sources.

On Wednesday, advisory panels to the ministers jointly compiled a report reviewing the home appliance recycling system.

Based on the report, both ministries will strengthen the surveillance system for the disposal of used home appliances, aiming to save the environment internationally by reviving the recycling system through such measures as tightening export control.

The Home Appliance Recycling Law sets ways to dispose of four kinds of home appliances: TV sets; air conditioners; refrigerators and freezers; and washers and dryers. According to the ministries' estimates, 17.02 million used home appliances of the four kinds were discarded by households or offices in fiscal 2012.

Among them, about 67 per cent were collected and disposed of through regular channels defined by the law.

Of the remaining 33 per cent, some were officially exported as used items, while others were illegally dumped or exported.

In recent years, home appliances have increasingly been reportedly exported to China and other countries by being hidden in scrap metal to make it difficult for authorities to discover the illegal exporting.

According to the ministries, 1.3 million used home appliances, or about 8 per cent of the total, are suspected to have been disposed of by such means.

At their export destinations, copper, aluminium and other valuable metals are removed from used home appliances, the remnants of which are then burned outdoors or in incinerators incapable of sufficiently capturing the smoke and soot, possibly leading to environmental deterioration at those destinations.

In the report, the councils proposed that both ministries should cooperate with customs houses, local governments and other bodies, calling for preventing the illegal or inappropriate collection, disposal, dumping and export of used home appliances by boosting on-the-spot inspections of junk dealers or scrap yards-which collect disused articles and break them down-and through other measures.

Meanwhile, under the current system, if the places where customers initially purchased home appliances go out of business, customers can ask their municipalities to collect their appliances.

However, only 58 per cent of municipalities have a system to collect home appliances in accordance with the law.

Therefore, the report urges the Environment Ministry to accelerate efforts to construct a framework for drawing up guidelines.

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