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Data Entry: November 2011
Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society
The Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society was promulgated in June 2000 and fully came into operation in January 2001. The purpose of this act is to create a sound material-cycle society, which consumes natural resources in a controlled manner and has reduced impact on the environment, by reviewing mass-production, mass-consumption and mass waste-producing society and people's lifestyle and also ensuring material recycling in society.
The goal of the Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society is to reduce natural resource consumption associated with the use and disposal of products and to reduce environmental burden by recycling materials in society. This act sets forth basic principles and key points of policy as an outline of measures designed to establish a sound material-cycle society.
The Act also sets out the order of priority in waste treatment for the first time in Japanese legislation:  Reduction of waste generation,  Reuse of products/parts,  Material recycling,  Thermal recycling and  Proper disposal. Consequently, the Act is expected to encourage the creation of a sound material-cycle society, the development of waste treatment and recycling measures for overall material flow encompassing pre- and post-wastes, as well as the reduction of waste generation and proper disposal.
II. Outline of the Act
(1) Targeting a sound material-cycle society
According to the definitions in the Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society, a sound material-cycle society reduces the consumption of natural resources and minimizes the environmental burden by controlling waste generation, recycling recyclable resources, and ensuring proper disposal.
(2) Subjects to be regulated
The Act states that it applies to "waste" in general, whether of value or no value, and that efforts should be made to properly recycle useful waste, which is termed "recyclable resources."
(3) Order of priority for measures adopted in a sound material-cycle society
The Act also sets out the order of priority for the first time in Japanese legislation for measures taken when wastes are or have been produced from products:  Reduction of waste generation,  Reuse of parts,  Material recycling,  Thermal recycling and  Proper disposal. This order of priority is a basic principle for minimizing environmental burden. Some deviation from this order is permitted if doing so effectively reduces the environmental burden.
The Act also stipulates that recycling of recyclable materials and waste disposal must be performed in a proper manner, without impeding environmental conservation.
Moreover, the Act sets forth considerations for measures for ensuring the proper circulation of substances in the natural world, since such circulation is closely related to the creation of a sound material-cycle society.
(4) Responsibilities of national government, local governments, businesses and citizens
To establish a sound material-cycle society, it is important for the national government, local governments, businesses and citizens to share their respective roles properly. The Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society sets out the responsibilities of these stakeholders.
The two distinctive features of the Act are that it clarifies the generator responsibility of businesses and citizens, while defining the extended producer responsibility.