Return and reuse: How Japan recycles televisions and other appliances

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CNET Editor

Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.

Australians are slowly jumping aboard the environmental bandwagon, but in Japan, a law mandating the recycling of home appliances is already six years old.

In 2001, the Japanese government enacted a law mandating that televisions, refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and air conditioners be recycled, as these appliances account for 80 percent by weight of the country's electronic equipment waste.

The responsibility for the system is split between two groups of manufacturers, who collectively operate 380 collection points around the country that feed 46 recycling facilities. Although the user pays a recycling charge levied by retailers for collection and transportation, the total cost of the program is subsidised by the manufacturers and not the Japanese government.

The Matsushita Eco Technology Center (METEC), in Yashiro, is owned and operated by Panasonic's parent company. In addition to Panasonic products, the centre recycles appliances from over 20 other brands including JVC, LG, Samsung and Toshiba. In the 2006 financial year, METEC recycled 700,000 units. In addition to breaking down used appliances so their raw materials can be reused, METEC conducts research to design new products that will include more recycled components, as well as finding ways to make products easier to recycle once they are no longer wanted.

METEC also serves as an educational centre to promote recycling initiatives for consumer products. In the five years since its opening, METEC has hosted over 48,000 visitors.

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steve posted a comment   

The recycling cost should be levied at the time of purchase and not as an option when it comes time to dispose of the item.


Weber posted a comment   

The US should have been a pioneer in recyling electronics but instead I see nothing being done. I applaud the Japanese for their efforts and hopefully it will eventually carry over to the US.

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