MFA-Based Policies and Concepts for Sustainable Resource and Waste Management

Conceptual Progress for Sustainable Resource and Waste Management and Its Relevance to MFA – Cases in China and Japan

According to Yuan et al. (2006), the circular economy (CE) was first proposed as a concept by scholars in China in the 1990s, and subsequently formally adopted in 2002 by the central government as a new development strategy. Yuan et al. (2006) state that the CE concept originates from the industrial ecology paradigm, building on the notion of loop-closing emphasized in German and Swedish environmental policy. According to another article on industrial ecology research in China (Shi et al. 2002), the first time that the term “industrial ecology” appeared in a Chinese academic publication was in 1990, published by Tsinghua University Press. Most recently, the CE was adopted as a keyword to promote resource efficiency policy in Europe. In summer 2014, the European Commission adopted the Communication “Towards a circular economy: a zero waste program for Europe” to establish an EU framework to promote the circular economy. Chap. 7 explores the different concepts brought together under the heading “circular economy.”

Shi et al. (2002) also reviewed the state of research on and practice of core constituents of industrial ecology: LCA, DfE, MFA, EIPs, and closed-loop economies. They found that the wide gap between LCA application and policy making needed to be filled and, as compared to LCA, MFA was even less developed in China, as of early 2000s. Thus MFA was not explicitly linked to CE in China, at least in the early stage of the policy.

Earlier in 2000 in Japan, a new fundamental law towards “Jun-kan” (circular) society was adopted. The initial official translation of the circular society was “recycling-based society” but this was subsequently revised to “sound materialcycle (SMC) society.” “Jun-kan” in Japanese and “XÚNHUÁN” in Chinese are synonymous, both of them meaning “circulation.” Japan's preliminary economywide MFA can be found in a report by a committee organized by the Environment Agency in 1991 to examine the “Jun-kan” socio-system (Hashimoto 2009). Here, a similar phrase to “Jun-kan” society appeared for the first time in Japan's environmental administration. MFA and the circular society concept, therefore, have close relations for Japan.

A review by Takiguchi and Takemoto (2008) confirmed that the framework of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) policies to establish a SMC Society was designed on the basis of research on MFA. A set of three economy-wide MF indicators was introduced into the Fundamental Plan for SMC Society in 2003, and numerical targets were set for each indicator. The concept of the 3Rs by Japan was also shared on a global scale through the Group of Eight (G8) process known as the 3R Initiative.

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