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Data Entry: November 2011

Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law (Waste Management Law)

I. Purpose
The Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law (Waste Management Law), established in 1970 along with other pollution-related laws by the Diet, sets forth fundamental systems for the treatment of wastes. The purpose of this law is to restrict waste generation and ensure proper sorting, storage, collection, transportation, recycling, disposal, etc. of wastes for preservation of the living environment and public health improvement.

II. Outline of the Law and Revisions
Since enactment, the Waste Management Law has undergone major revisions in 1976, 1991, 1997 and 2000 in response to changes in the social situation. More recently in 2006, the Law was revised to tighten treatment standards for wastes containing asbestos so as to prevent them from being released into the air and ensure proper treatment, since such wastes were expected to be generated in large amounts from dismantled buildings and health hazards resulting from asbestos became apparent. This revision was made in connection with the establishment of formalities for the asbestos detoxification certification program.

(1) Scheme of Waste Management Law

Purpose

To preserve the living environment and improve public health by [1] Preventing waste generation, [2] Promoting proper waste management (transportation, disposal, recycling, etc.) and [3] Maintaining a clean living environment.

Definition

Waste: filthy and unnecessary matter, in solid or liquid state (excluding radioactive substances)

[Municipal solid waste]

[Industrial waste]

Wastes other than industrial waste

Waste materials from business activities, such as ashes, sludge, waste oil and waste plastics

[Specially controlled municipal solid waste]

Municipal solid waste such as explosive, toxic or infectious waste, involving the risk of causing damage to human health or the living environment

[Specially controlled industrial waste]

Industrial waste such as explosive, toxic or infectious waste, involving the risk of causing damage to human health or the living environment

Treatment responsibility

Municipalities treat municipal solid waste to avoid harmful impact on the human living environment, in accordance with their respective municipal solid waste treatment plans.

Business operators are responsible for treating their wastes by themselves or by contracting out to authorized waste disposal businesses.

Waste disposal business (collection and transportation business or disposal business)

Licensed by local government chief

A license is granted provided the capacity of the applicant and the applicant's facilities meet the applicable standards and the particulars of the application comply with the relevant municipal solid waste disposal plan.

Licensed by Prefectural Governor (or Mayor of city with a special administrative status; the same applies in this section)

A license is granted provided the capacity of the applicant and the applicant's facilities meet the applicable standards.

 

Supervisor

Local government chief

Prefectural Governor

Disposal facilities

Licensed by Prefectural Governor (When constructing disposal facilities, municipalities are required to make a notification.)

A license is granted provided the construction plan meets the applicable technical standards, the construction and maintenance management plans include proper considerations to preserve the living environment of the surrounding area, and the applicant's capacity meets the applicable standards.

Licensed by Prefectural Governor

A license is granted provided the construction plan meets the applicable technical standards, the construction and maintenance management plans include proper considerations to preserve the living environment of the surrounding area, and the applicant's capacity meets the applicable standards.

 

Supervisor

Local government chief

Prefectural Governor

Import/Export regulations

The domestic waste disposal principle applies. Exporting of wastes must be checked by the Minister of the Environment (the "Minister" in this section).

The domestic waste disposal principle applies. Exporting of wastes must be checked by the Minister.

Importing wastes must be licensed by the Minister from the perspective of ensuring proper treatment.

Special scheme for recycling

Waste management and facility permits are not required for certain forms of recycling that are not harmful to the human living environment and have received authorization from the Minister.

Waste management and facility permits are not required for certain forms of recycling that are not harmful to the human living environment and have received authorization from the Minister.

Prohibition of dumping

No person shall dump wastes without permission.

Prohibition of open burning

No person shall incinerate wastes except when doing so in accordance with the applicable disposal standards.

(Created from materials of the Ministry of the Environment)

(2) Principal special schemes for recycling
Licenses for engaging in a waste disposal business or establishing waste disposal facilities are not required under special schemes for recycling and wide-area disposal (authorization by the Minister). In addition, local government chiefs and prefectural governors operate designation systems.

Category

Description

Special scheme for recycling

The Minister of the Environment authorizes businesses to recycle designated waste materials in accordance with standards such as requiring harmlessness to the human living environment. Authorized businesses are not required to obtain a license for conducting waste disposal business or for establishing waste disposal facilities.

Special scheme for wide-area disposal

The Minister of the Environment authorizes businesses to carry out wide-area disposal of designated waste materials in accordance with standards such as requiring contributions to waste reduction and other proper treatments. Authorized businesses are not required to obtain a license for conducting waste disposal business.

Designation by local government chief

Businesses designated by a local government chief as solely treating municipal solid waste that is recognized by the local government chief as infallibly recycled, are not required to obtain a license for conducting municipal solid waste disposal business.

Designation by Prefectural Governor

Businesses designated by a Prefectural Governor as solely treating industrial waste that is recognized by the Prefectural Governor as infallibly recycled, are not required to obtain a license for conducting industrial waste disposal business.

 (3) Recycler registration system
Under the recycler registration system, prefectural governors register each establishment of businesses that are currently engaged in the recycling of wastes and meet the applicable standards, according to the provisions of Article 20, Paragraph 2, Item 1 of the Waste Management Law.

Benefits of registration

Registered businesses are allowed to use the designation "Registered Recycler."

Registration requirements

  • The applicant must have storage facilities appropriate for the waste type, sorting and processing facilities suitable for recycling, and transfer facilities.
  • The applicant must be able to conduct the business properly (must not fall under any of the disqualification conditions stipulated in the Waste Management Law).
  • The applicant must have sufficient financial resources for proper and continued operation of the business.

Note that this registration is not equivalent to legal permits (permits for municipal solid waste or industrial waste disposal businesses, designation of recycling businesses, etc.). Whether registered or not, businesses must obtain necessary permits according to their forms of business.
Moreover, municipalities have the right to request necessary cooperation from registered recyclers with regard to the recycling of municipal solid waste.




Conceptual Diagram of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law
(Source: "Towards a 3R-Oriented, Sustainable Society: Legislation and Trends 2007", Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan)

http://www.meti.go.jp/policy/recycle/main/data/pamphlet/pdf/handbook2007_eng.pdf


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