Japan’s shift from reactive to preventive approaches provides a lesson for today’s rapidly developing economies in how to deal with industrial wastes, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme.
In the 1960s, Japan suffered environmental and public health crises from vast amounts of industrial and hazardous wastes, illegal dumping, air pollution and water contamination, UNEP says. Since then, the country has made many environmental improvements.
Japan created policies to hold industries responsible for waste treatment and disposal, which created a waste market and fostered businesses in the waste sector. Market-based instruments helped communities to create city-level approaches to industrial waste management.
The “three Rs” concept of reducing, reusing and recycling was also crucial to Japan’s efforts, as were awareness-raising programs, according to the report, The Japanese Industrial Waste Experience: Lessons for Rapidly Industrializing Countries.
Some of Japan’s clean-up approaches are already being used in other countries, the report says.
Takeaway: A UNEP report says that Japan’s approach to dealing with its industrial waste problem, in decades past, shows the way for today’s rapidly industrializing nations.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.