Importance of the 3Rs, 2Rs, and Circular Economy as a Governmental Policy

Online Course on Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) towards Circular Economy for Asian Development Bank Staff
November 14-16, 2022 (Online)

IGES organized a training course on muncipal solid waste management and circular economy on November 14-16, 2022 for ADB staff.

During the training, Hotta provided a lecture as follows;

Hotta shared that with economy and social development, policy is shifting towards
CE. He buttressed his case with Japan as a case study. He stressed that in 60s and 70s,
Japan experienced rapid growth and 40% of the waste were treated in unlined landfill. The
situation resulted in sanitary problems and the challenges was amplified as land was limited.
He explained that the volume of waste was reduced by constructing incinerator, the
number of incinerations increased to 2000 facilities and were mostly small-scale incinerator.
As a result, when plastic waste increased, they produced hazardous waste; dioxins were
generated by incinerators. He noted the use of high temperature facility and large-scale
incinerators to reduce dioxins. He continued that after 1990s, Japan started promoting 3R
and energy recovery. The current trend is CE and there is a shift towards sustainability -
from end of pipe and resource efficiency to transition to CE and decarbonisation. The current
question is how to preserve wellbeing and lifestyle and nurture new business models. Hotta
also shared some examples on utilisation of digital transformation in promoting CE. For
example, Digital token for collection of plastics and to trace origin of recyclable plastics using
IBM Block Chain Technology, COUNTERmeasure project: identification of plastics along
Mekong and Ganges river using AI and vision camera. Due to data shortage, new
technologies for identification are becoming popular.

Hotta also shared that G20 Osaka Blue Ocean Vision (OBOV) (2019) and UN legally
binding instrument for plastic pollution (2024) has set a momentum for ambitious targets
on plastic at global level. The national policy responses are focussing on prevention, waste
reduction, end-of-pipe, product regulation and recycling are thus important. In addition,
Hotta discussed OECD’s Global Plastic Outlook (GPO) model on plastic waste generation
and policy options to reach OBOV. He highlighted that cost is modest at global level; in
developing countries the costs are very high that ODA and investment in infrastructure
development is required. Internationalisation of Circular Economy (CE) – He showed that
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) works domestically, there remains a loophole of
second-hand goods sale that escape the EPR requirements. For example, for home appliance, 30% of disposed products remain outside the formal recycling.