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Release of pollutants and wastes

Natural processes

Release of pollutants and wastes

Natural processes

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Regarded as negative inputs

Construction minerals Non-ferrous metals Iron & steel Fossil fuels Materials total

(b) Input-output table with environment extension

Outputs to

(c) 3-dimensional physical input-output tables

Figure 24.1 Frameworks of environmentally extended physical input-output tables disassembly (DFD), and this is converging with ecodesign initiatives. The Union of EcoDesigners was established with participation of a number of related academic communities in Japan. Many visitors attended an exhibition of ecoproducts held in Tokyo. On the basis of these successful endeavors, partnership between academic efforts in ecodesign and business opportunities arising from ecoproducts appears to have been strengthened.

Ecomaterial research, originally launched by the former National Research Institute for Metal in the early 1990s, is another active field of inquiry. This research aims at improvements in the eco-efficiency of materials. A crucial focus of this work is the improvement in functionality of materials along with a reduction in the environmental impacts of the materials in order to increase eco-efficiency.

Issues of extended producer's responsibility (EPR) are discussed mainly in the context of post-consumer waste management. As stated earlier, promotion of recycling is often encouraged as a means of waste minimization. Based on EPR thinking, new national legislation for recycling of household electric equipment (air conditioners, TVs, refrigerators and washing machines) was put in force in the year 2001.

Zero-emission initiatives, which focus on re-use of wastes of one industry by another to achieve waste minimization, are not only studied by researchers but also practiced, at least on a trial basis, in various sectors, such as machinery and the food and beverage industries. Many university researchers have participated in zero-emission studies since 1997 via funding from the Ministry of Culture and Education. Other research projects are also supported by governmental funding. For example, the Construction of recycle-oriented industrial Complex systems with environmentally sound technology at societal experimental sites Project (CCP) funded by the Japanese Science and Technology Agency is a new attempt at an empirical field study in industrial ecology. The CCP project focuses on three topics: industrial parks, urban renewal and the food system.

A concept closely related to the IE, 'industrial transformation' (IT), developed under the auspices of the International Human Dimension Program (IHDP), has also attracted interest in Japan and provided an opportunity to exchange experiences regarding industrial ecology and socioeconomic research.

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