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Japan to Adopt Appliance Material Labeling Plan
Mar 30, 2005
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In order to maker recycling safer and easier, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry announced plans to require appliance manufacturers to list hazardous and rare materials on five products, beginning in the summer of 2006.

The five items cited by the Ministry are air-conditioners, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and personal computers. The products will have to identify at least three categories of substances, including material, such as lead, that when mixed with other materials make the product difficult to recycle; environmentally harmful substances, such as mercury; and scarce substances, such as indium, which is used in liquid crystal displays.

Initially, the ministry will amend regulations under a law covering the efficient use of resources to require manufacturers to apply appropriate labels and says it will gradually expand the number of appliances covered under the new regulations. Ministry officials said they expect the requirements will encourage manufacturers to adopt easy-to-recycle materials.

Under current recycling laws, manufacturers are required to collect the five appliances when they are discarded. After the planned regulatory revisions, manufacturers would also have to indicate the quantity of relevant substances and the components they are used in, which would be included in product catalogs, manuals, and Web sites.

Similar requirements are being considered in the European Union, China, and other nations. According to the Ministry, it will ask foreign countries to adopt the same identification requirements at the conference on the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Initiative to be held in Tokyo in April.

Japan said it also plans to study identification methods and the scope of disclosures at the International Electrotechnical Commission, an international organization on standards for electrical, electronic, and related technologies.

The European Union's Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive will take effect in July 2006. The directive seeks to forbid use of lead and other specified harmful substances for some electrical appliances. (The Asahi Shimbun)

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