Research Article

Circular Economy and Waste Management: A Comparative Study between Japan and France

Alexandre Levillain1 , Shigeru Matsumoto2,*
1IPAG Business School, France
2Department of Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

*Corresponding author:

Shigeru Matsumoto, Department of Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan, Tel: 813 3409 9640, Email: shmatsumoto@aoyamagakuin.jp

Keywords:

Circular economy, Comparative study, Green growth, Resource efficiency

A circular economy (CE) is a new economic model that is based on keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value during use, and recovering end-of-life materials. Developed countries are at different stages of CE implementation. France recently introduced the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act in 2015 with the aim of transiting to a CE. Japan is ahead of France in this endeavor; in 2000, Japan introduced the Fundamental Law for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society and has successfully increased its resource efficiency in the last 15 years. In light of Japanese experiences, this paper makes various policy recommendations for the development of CE in France.

The transition toward a circular economy (CE) model is based on the principle of maximizing resource efficiency through greater recycling and re-use. The results of a series of life cycle analyses have shown that recycling contributes to the preservation of natural resources and reduces the environmental burden, compared to the case where virgin raw materials are used [1,2]. Hence, the output of waste processing is regarded as a lever for a CE.

The European Commission (2017) [3] has adopted a new CE package to help European businesses and consumers transit to a CE, and the European Structural and Investment Funds is prepared to provide financial support for this transition. French Government also began promoting a CE. It created a procedure called “waste status output,” which legally enables to treat waste as products, in 2014, and introduced the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, which outlined the steps toward a CE in 2015.

In the area of CE, Japan is considered as a pioneering country [4]; it enacted the Fundamental Law for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society (No.110 of 2000, the Fundamental Law) in 2000. The concept of the fundamental law is illustrated in Figure 1. The top priority is waste reduction, followed by re-use, material recycle, thermal recycle (energy recovery), and finally, disposal (landfill). When the focus is on the first three activities, a CE policy is called a “3R policy”.

For the 14 years after the enactment of the fundamental law, the amount of municipal solid waste per person per day has decreased by 16.3% in Japan; it decreased from 1132 g in 2000 to 947 g in 2014. During this period, large amounts of recyclables were collected and the recycling rate increased from 14.3% to 20.6% [5].

CE is also considered a global business model, reconciling the economy and promoting local employment. Once again in Japan, the re-use market has rapidly expanded since the implementation of the CE law. MOEJ (2015a) [6] reported that the market size, not including used vehicles and antiques, has already reached over 8.8 billion euro (1.1 trillion yen). MOEJ (2015b) [7] further estimated that the total value-added of the recycling industry was about 55.2 billion euro (6.9 trillion yen) in 2013, which accounted for about 1.4% of the gross domestic product of Japan. The above mentioned statistics show that the CE policies introduced in Japan were quite effective in waste reduction as well as in promoting the recycling industry. France is about 20 years behind Japan in terms of CE development. On August 17, 2015, the French Parliament passed a law on energy transition for green growth (LOI n° 2015-992). A chapter of this law is dedicated to CE. The actions taken before this law were not global, and the statistical significance of the impact on the CE arising from this text is not yet available. This paper has three purposes: 1. To explain the link between waste management practices as a lever for CE 2. To assess the impacts of CE policies introduced in Japan 3. To extract useful knowledge for developing CE in France.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we review literature that conducted CE policy comparison across countries. We then overview CE policies introduced in Japan and assess their impacts on the country’s environment and economies, and report the current French situation. Through the impact assessment of CE policies in Japan, we argue that the perspectives of CE are promising also in France. One of the interesting features of Japanese waste management is that there are strong NGO activities on the recycle material collection. In Section 3, we focus on household waste management and compare waste treatment practices in France and Japan. In Section 4, we summarize the agenda to establish CE in France and conclude the paper by predicting the future outlook of CE in France.

Waste Management Policies Designed for CE

The concept of CE has a rich set of many varieties and historical precedents [8] and different people have different images on CE. Although some people thought that aiming CE simply means to improve the resource efficiencies by promoting recycling rates previously, the vast majority of people nowadays think that it does not only mean to close the loop by recycling, but also to redesign the industrial processes altogether [9,10]. After reviewing a large volume of literature, Ghisellni et al. [11] conclude that CE implies the adoption of cleaner production patterns at company level, an increase of producers and consumers responsibility and awareness, the use of renewable technologies and materials (wherever possible) and the adoption of suitable, cleaner and stable policies and tools.

However, people in different countries may have different image on CE and thus differences on CE images may be reflected also the design of country’s CE policies. It is important to verify the differences in CE policies among between since a wide range of products are exchanged nowadays. Perhaps, one of the most comprehensive surveys comparing CE policies between countries is described by Heck [4]. He reviewed CE policies in EU, Germany, Japan, the Netherland, and the US and found that the countries have been choosing different strategies toward CE. Germany and the Netherland as well as EU have been taking holistic approach toward a sustainable society; CE has been included as one of the component of such an approach. On the other hand, the concept of CE in Japan is more closely tied to waste management but is no closely related to other environmental policies. As we will explain later, CE policies in Japan have been developed primarily for the resource efficiency improvement.

A large number of the studies concern the implementation of CE in China [12,13]. Recognizing the economic and environmental risks of the nation’s heavy resource exploitation, China has led the world in promoting the recirculation of waste materials trough setting targets and adopting policies, financial measures and legislation [14]. McDowall et al. [15] compares CE policy in China with that in Europe and report that the focus of CE in China is very different from the one in Europe. Specifically, the Chinese perspective on the CE has been developed around development problems such as pollution and urbanization problems while the European perspective on the CE has been developed around the resource efficiency and business opportunities. A similar argument can be found in Mathews, Tan [16] and Luo [17]. Another distinction between China and EU can be observed also in their approach. While China uses a top-down (command and control approach, EU uses a bottom-up (market based) approach [11]. Except for China, few scholars have compared CE policy between Europe and Asian countries. Although several Japanese scholars have compared the systems of Japan and Germany in the field of container packaging recycling law [18,19], no one has yet compared CE policies between France and Japan. The object of this paper is to compare CE laws and household waste treatment between two countries.

Japanese Experience

The rules for waste recovery procedures vary by country. Japan as a pioneering CE country is a good illustration of the diversity of situations involved in waste recovery. After World War II, Japan experienced rapid economic growth and its economy was supported by a system of mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal. Such a linear economy (make, use, and dispose) caused serious environmental degradation and landfill shortage. In the 1990s, CE was proposed as an alternative to a linear economy.

The Japanese government enacted its fundamental law in 2000 and declared that it would aim to establish a recycle-oriented society. As presented in Figure 2, two types of laws were created to contribute to waste reduction and environmental preservation through the effective utilization of recyclable resources and reusable parts: the Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law (No. 137 of 1970), which regulates waste treatment, and the Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources (No. 48 of 1991), which requires business entities producing or selling specific products to engage in waste reduction, product re-use, and material recycling. Five varieties of recycling laws introduced from the late 1990s to early 2000s specify the following recycling duties:
1. Law for Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (No. 112 of 1995, Containers and Packaging Recycling Law) was enacted in 1995 to reduce containers and wrapping waste.
2. Law for Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances (No. 97 of 1998, Home Appliances Recycling Law) was enacted in 1998 to reduce waste and effectively utilize resources by recycling home appliances discarded from households and offices.
3. Law Concerning the Promotion of Recycling Food Cyclical Resources (No. 116 of 2000, Food Recycling Law) was enacted in 2000 to reduce the amount of food waste produced and promote recycling into feed and fertilizer.
4. Law Concerning Recycling of Materials from Construction Work (No. 104 of 2000, Construction Waste Recycling Law) was enacted in 2000 to reduce the generation of construction waste.
5. Law Concerning Recycling Measures of End-of-life Vehicles (No. 87 of 2002, End-of-life Vehicle Recycling Law) was enacted in 2002 to promote the re-use, recycling, and proper disposal of vehicle parts.

The Japanese legislative framework is structured in three levels, and these specific laws generally impose binding measures on all three. The Containers and Packaging Recycling Law integrated and implemented extended producer responsibility via the funding of recycling operations by business entities. Competent ministries calculate the total amount of recycling obligation under this law, based on the amount of selective collection planned by municipalities and the amount that can be recycled [20]. The End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling Law requires manufacturers to establish a recycling industry, financed by motorists. There is a similar scheme for the recycling of major home appliances: the end user directly supports the costs of collection and recycling, although operations in this case are organized by the producers.

The change in material flow from 2000 to 2013 is presented in Table 1. The table shows that Japan reduced resource use very drastically after the implementation of the fundamental law; the total resource input decreased from 2,138 million tons to 1,674 tons, while the natural resource input decreased from 1,925 million tons to 1,405 million tons. The table further shows that Japan succeeded in waste reduction; the amount of waste decreased from 595 million tons to 584 million tons during the period. Owing to waste reduction, landfill life has been extended. Since recycling has been promoted in the last 13 years, the amount of cyclic use increased from 213 million tons to 269 million tons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

2013

Real Quantity

Input

Total resource input

2,138

1,674

 

 

Input of natural resource etc.

1,925

1,405

 

 

 

Import

800

816

 

 

 

 

Product import

48

59

 

 

 

 

Resource import

752

757

 

 

 

Domestic resource

1,125

588

 

 

Cyclic use

213

269

 

Hydrous etc.

299

258

Output

Export

120

182

 

Net storage

1,110

515

 

Energy consumption and emission during production process

500

553

 

Food consumption

97

85

 

Compost

16

13

 

Waste generated

595

584

 

 

Waste to nature

85

81

 

 

Waste reduced

241

218

 

 

Final disposal

56

16

 

 

Cyclic use

213

269

Total

2,437

1,932

Source: Ministry of the Environment of Japan (2016)


CE is also a source of employment for people involved in waste management innovations to create value from waste materials that were previously nuisance and expensive. There is a strong challenge to quantify and further assess this value creation because it will stimulate the deployment steps more than any other argument. This focus will demonstrate that the economy and a clean environment are compatible. Protection of the environment and the creation of value are major advantages of CE; the waste output process feeds this new societal concept and generates employment via the creation of recycling industries. Below are two illustrative examples.

According to a survey by METI [20], the total amount of waste generated in 2013 was 44.87 million tons, and residential solid waste accounted for about 65% of it. In volume, container and package waste accounted for about 53% of residential solid waste. This high share is the reason why Japanese government introduced the Containers and Packaging Recycling Law prior to other recycling laws. In 2000, only 27.3% of municipalities collected plastic wrap separately. After 13 years, 75.3% of municipalities now collect it separately. Consequently, a much larger quantity of recyclable materials is now obtained through recycling procedures. Figure 3presents the change over the last 13 years. The amount of plastic bottles recycled into plastic products increased by about 2.5 times; the amount of plastic wrap recycled into plastic products or fuels increased by about 9.0 times; and the amount of paper wrap recycled into paper products increased by 3.2 times.

The recycling effort around home appliances is another good illustrative example to evaluate the impact of recycling laws. Before the implementation of the Home Appliances Recycling Law, four varieties of appliances (air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers, televisions, and washing machines) were collected as bulky garbage. Although these appliances contain valuable resources, they were not broken down and underwent crushing treatment at bulky garbage facilities. Since the law was put into force, these four items have been taken back by retailers or municipalities and then recycled by manufacturers/importers or the Association for Electric Home Appliances. According to a survey by the Association for Electric Home Appliances (2014), in volume base, the recycling rates of air conditioners, CRT televisions, liquid crystal televisions, refrigerators and freezers, and washing machines reached 92%, 75%, 89%, 80%, and 80%, respectively. The quantities of iron, copper, and aluminum collected from the four items in 2014 were 170,782, 14,929, and 14,306 tons, respectively. Ten years prior, in 2004, the quantities collected were 143,321, 10,064, and 2,298 tons, respectively. Japan clearly obtained a much greater quantity of metals after the implementation of the Home Appliances Recycling Law.

French Situation

In France, according to the new Article L. 541-4-3 of 2010-1579 of the Environmental Code from the Order of December 17, 2010, “a waste ceases to be waste after being treated in a facility subject to authorization or declaration under the Water Act or in a facility subject to authorization, registration or declaration under the law on classified installations.” For this, the waste must have undergone a recovery operation, including recycling for re-use, and must meet criteria completing all of the following conditions. Since February 2013, the French Institute of Circular Economy, created by MP François-Michel Lambert, worked on developing a framework bill by 2015. A preparation workshop on legislative regulatory and tax was led by Carl Enckell, an attorney at the Paris Bar, and the ongoing work led to a White Paper at the end of 2014. As presented in Figure 4 and 5, as of the nineties, France has experienced sectoral regulations, and nowadays a more global regulation.



On August 17, 2015, a law (n°2015-992) on the energy transition for green growth was enacted by the French Parliament. This law will standardize CE across the country with general objectives. The act contains a chapter specifically addressing CE. In this extension, decrees are being prepared to optimize the implementation by sector of activity. The coercive or incentive mechanisms that the law may establish can be articulated around three main objectives of CE: saving and using high-efficiency resources, protecting the environment, and promoting economic development. On the same day, a second law on the new organization of territories (n°2015-991) has been voted by the French Parliament. Circular economy and waste management will be handled locally.
The main axis (saving and using high-efficiency resources) will change patterns of consumption, production, distribution, and logistics flow management of resources to fit a more economical and efficient CE. Various operational measures are possible, such as supporting the eco-design of products by companies using eco-modulations on the eco-design criteria of sustainability, scalability, repairability, and recyclability. Thus, an accurate assessment of these criteria can increase the warranty period for certain products and allow for a closer examination of planned obsolescence. Some waste can be diverted to re-use or recycling in CE, thus reducing the amount of waste generated. In addition, CE can promote international competitiveness of enterprises supported and accompanied by this comprehensive approach.

Since July 1, 2010, the eco-contribution scales of certain waste electrical and electronic equipment have been updated according to the reparability, reinvestment, clearance, and recyclability of such equipment. For example, the eco-contribution of batteries is determined based on their lifetime environmental impact.

A scheme of EC “good students” labeling start changing the behavior of the industrial sector. A true EC label does not only target a specific product but also a manufacturer. For instance, the label of the “cradle to cradle” (C2C) CE is a registered trademark and certification designed to have a positive impact on people and the environment through the manufacturing of products that are recyclable, non-toxic, biodegradable, or with infinite usefulness. Several strategies can be used for the promotion of CE in France. First, public procurement rules may be necessary to support new recycling business. Second, tax reductions for recycled products can be applied. Finally, an appropriate legal framework to fight against illegal trafficking of materials needs to be prepared.

The evolution (in tonnes) of household waste treatment in France between 2001 and 2013 is shown on Table 2 [21]. In the mid-1990s, almost half of the waste was landfilled (storage). This proportion has clearly decreased since then; it reached 43% in 2000 and 26% in 2013. The law n° 2015-992 of August 17, 2015 on the energy transition for green growth sets the objective to reduce by 50% the landfill on the horizon 2025. In France, recycling and energy recovery or organic recovery (composting, mechanization, mechanical-biological treatment) accounted for 73% of municipal waste in 2013, compared with 53% in 2000. Incineration without energy recovery is marginal today. Conversely, incineration with energy recovery increases and then stabilizes, from 28% of the weight of waste in 2000 to 34% in 2013, as shown in Table 3. The result for 2013 showed a recycling rate (material and organic) of household waste and similar waste of 39%. This rate is growing by 1% per year. Although efforts have been made (the target of 35% in 2012 reached), the target set for 2015 (45%) didn’t be reached [21].


 

France

Japan

Waste

Total volume (Million tons)

Present

37.6

44.9

Per person (kg/year)

Present

530

343

Total volume (Million tons)

Target

10 % reduction by 2020

reduce to 40.0 Mt by 2020

Landfill

Total volume (Million tons)

Present

9.8

4.8

 

Target

50% reduction by 2025

reduce to 4 Mt by 2020

Landfill / Waste (%)

Present

26

10.7

Paper

Collection (%)

Present

 

80.4

Recycle (%)

Present

67

63.9

Glass bottle

Reuse (%)

Present

 

80.6

Recycle (%)

Present

85

68.4

Steel Can

Recycle (%)

Present

100

92.9

Plastic Bottle

Collection (%)

Present

 

91.3

Recycle (%)

Present

24

85.8

Table 2: Present status and future target.

Table 2 shows the present status and future target of waste management in France and Japan. First, the table shows that French dispose of more waste than Japanese; although the average Japanese person disposed of only 343 kg of waste in 2013, the average French person disposed of 530 kg of waste. In terms of waste reduction target, both French and Japanese governments plan to reduce waste about by 10% until 2020. In the mid-1990s, almost half of the waste was landfilled (storage) in France. This proportion has clearly decreased since then; it reached 43% in 2000 and 26% in 2013. Yet, the landfill rate in France is much higher than that in Japan. The law n° 2015-992 of August 17, 2015 on the energy transition for green growth in France sets the objective to reduce by 50% the landfill on the horizon 2025. This French target is more ambitious than Japanese.
Although the collection and material recycling rates are not differentiated in French dataset, there seems no so much difference between France and Japan in terms of the recycling rates of paper, glass bottle, and steel can. However, as explained in the next section, the collection method of recycle items differs between two countries. The recycling rate of plastics in Japan is much higher than that in France. Although more than 90% of plastic bottles are collected and recycled in Japan, only a small fraction of plastic containers is recycled in France. Obviously, French society faces strong technical constrains in terms of plastic container recycling

Although CE policies cover a wide variety of industries, it would be appropriate to focus on the practices in a specific sector to better understand the value of a CE process. Although it is necessary for each stakeholder to fulfill its role in order to properly function CE, previous literature has focused on the participatory of industrial sector and has paid less attention to that of household sector. Below, we focus on household waste management practices and compare waste treatment practices between Paris (France) and Tokyo (Japan).

Actions in Tokyo (Japan)

In 2014, Tokyo recycled 18% of waste collected from households. It incinerated 80% of waste at intermediate facilities and buried about 10% of it in the final waste-disposal site. Tokyo aims to achieve a 27% recycling rate for municipal solid waste by 2020. Even with these results, among Japanese municipalities, Tokyo is considered a poor performer in the field of municipal solid waste management. For example, in 2014, Yokohama, the second largest city, achieved a 26.4% recycling rate, incinerated only 73% of household waste, and buried 9% of the waste. Yokohama is planning to further reduce waste by 10% in the next 10 years.

Sorting:

In Japan, recyclables are collected at three stages. The first stage is the group collection stage. Local residents form a recycling group and sign a contract with a waste management company. Residents separate recyclables such as cans, paper, and textiles at home and take them to the collection site on a designated day. The contracted company then collects and transports these recyclables to the centralized recycling station. Since the cost of recyclable collection through a group collection procedure is lower than that through a public collection procedure, many municipalities have encouraged group collection activities in recent years [22]. In fact, some municipalities provide subsidies to recycling groups according to the volume of recyclables they collect. The second stage is direct resource recovery at treatment facilities. If a local resident separates recyclables from other waste and disposes them in separate containers, municipalities can obtain recyclable resources without any treatment. Thus, household sorting eases recycling procedures and lowers the cost of waste management.

Treatment:

The final stage is resource recovery at intermediate facilities. Even if recyclables are disposed as mixed waste, some of their fraction can be obtained at intermediate treatment facilities. Table 3 shows the amount of recyclables obtained through three treatment stages in 2014. It shows that paper, metal, and glass account for the largest share of recyclable resources and the method of recyclable collection varies among recyclables. For instance, group collection plays an important role in paper and textile collection but a minor role in metal and glass collection. The comparison between Tokyo and Yokohama suggests that the method of recyclable collection varies among municipalities. Yokohama relies on the group collection method more intensively than Tokyo.

City

Methods of collection

Total

Paper

Metal

Glass

Textile

Tokyo

Group collection

202,352

24%

191,914

49%

4,080

5%

1,986

2%

3,078

27%

Without treatment

332,069

39%

157,170

40%

24,485

29%

83,898

75%

2,212

19%

After treatment

314,354

37%

43,901

11%

54,856

66%

25,768

23%

6,261

54%

Total

848,775

100%

392,985

100%

83,421

100%

111,652

100%

11,551

100%

Yokohama

Group collection

186,762

59%

175,552

99%

1,501

6%

65

0%

9,644

94%

Without treatment

13,287

4%

1,588

1%

11,085

46%

0

0%

614

6%

After treatment

114,908

36%

0

0%

11,651

48%

22,108

100% a

0

0%

Total

314,957

100%

177,140

100%

24,237

100%

22,173

100%

10,258

100%

Note:  Most glasses are collected by contracted companies.

Source: Ministry of the Environment of Japan (2016)

Table 3: Amount of recyclable resources obtained at three stages (2014).

 

Actions in Paris (France)

Paris is aiming at recycling 50% of its municipal solid waste by 2020, compared to 16% today (GUHL A, Livre Blanc de l’économie circulaire du Grand-Paris 2016). Currently, 80% of the waste is incinerated and 4% is buried. Hence, Paris’s target is more ambitious than Tokyo’s target. The actions carried out in Paris are the result of a framed plan accompanying the Local Program for the Prevention of Parisian Waste (PLPD). The first main line of action of the PLPD on the private sphere consists of promoting waste prevention as close as possible to Parisians, in their place of life, for example, operations within buildings or the promotion of composting at the foot of buildings.

The PLPD has relied on a public body/organism named “Observatoire de Réduction, Réutitulisation et Retraitement des déchets,” known as O3R, which aims to animate and mobilize a network of actors in waste management (structures of local government, economic actors, and public services). This observatory is a place for reflection, consultation, and decision on all aspects of waste prevention (production, distribution, and consumption).
It has four main missions:
• Ensuring consistency and visibility of all actions already carried out on Parisian territory in terms of waste reduction.
• Conducting a comprehensive “3R” policy, based on both the priority of waste reduction and reuse, while strengthening efforts to improve recycling
• Maintaining a network of exchanges and consultation with all stakeholders
• Compiling monitoring data and indicators

A report on the price and quality of the public waste management service in Paris is published each year and many actions are implemented every day in Paris. Sorting is an essential lever for the development of recycling channels. On the economic level, a recycling process can only be viable if the recycled material is competitive with the virgin material in both price and quality.

Sorting:

To obtain high quality recyclable at lower cost, household sorting becomes particularly important. The sorting is facilitated mainly by Syctom, the metropolitan agency for household waste services.Parisians sort their household waste into the following four rubbish containers in the common areas of apartment buildings:
• Yellow waste bins for packaging, cardboard, plastic bottles, and packaging
• White trash bins for glass
• Green waste bins for what remains after this initial sorting
• Container for biodegradable waste (leftover food, expired food products, and faded flowers)

Treatment:

Waste products are handled in incineration plants, sorting centers, and ultimate waste disposal centers. The analysis is carried out through treatment. The percentages of clinker valorization and material valuation are estimated at 21% and 5.9%, respectively. The surplus is processed by incineration and burial. The valuable by-products include electricity, steam, bottom ash, scrap, and aluminum. In addition, packaging materials, metals, food bricks, and small electrical appliances are recycled.

Financial Indicators:

Revenues come mainly from a local tax on building ownership (taxe d’habitation) and various subsidies and royalties, financed by the Parisian municipal service, Syctom. New actions are being carried out, including limiting food waste and a compost plan for 2016-2020, which specifies the management of bio-waste with composting.

Future Outlook of a French CE

France has introduced a legislation to promote CE throughout the country. The 20-year experience of Japan suggests that the perspectives of CE are promising also in France. Even with discreet estimates, it is expected that the resource efficiency of French economy will greatly improve through the implementation of the CE law. Energy efficiency improved greatly and waste generation decreased drastically for the last two decades in Japan. It is natural to expect that French economy will enjoy the same benefit in near future. Given the high unemployment rate, French government is hoping that the introduction of CE will lead to the creation of new business opportunities. As reported in this study, in Japan, many new businesses have emerged with the implementation of CE laws. It natural to expect that new businesses will emerge also in France.

Policy Recommendations for a French CE:

Therefore, although CE policy would be useful for revitalizing the French economy, there seems to be several important challenges to promote CE policies in France. The need for green taxation and the financial support of public authorities has become obvious, and the state supports CE actions in each territory. Other recommendations for the development of CE in France can be made around five main axes:

Encouraging and supporting green purchasing behavior:

To promote recycling businesses, the Japanese government introduced “Promoting Green Procurement” with its CE laws. In France, it will be beneficial to also activate public procurement by introducing and giving weight to CE clauses in public procurement, as only 6.7% of public procurement in 2013 included such clauses (GUHL A, Livre Blanc sur l’Economie Circulaire, Grand-Paris, 2016).
In France, green lease legislation (“annexe environnementale”) has been in place since 2013. As part of the drafting of commercial leases, rent is indexed to the environmental work carried out by the lessor. To further this effort at the consumption level, consumers should be encouraged to purchase products from eco-design and waste recycling via a reduced VAT and informative labeling.

Supporting innovation and experimentation of recycling business:

Academic research and social entrepreneurship are driving the promotion of CE. Research chairs within universities or business schools can ensure that their research efforts reflect on the emergence of this new economic model and quantify the economy of use.
Considering the rapid expansion of the recycling business in Japan, we expect that CE will create new recycling businesses in France. The creation of business incubators facilitating eco-design approaches is also under consideration. Operating as a resource center, an incubator supports start-ups and businesses in raising awareness of the challenges of CE and eco-design, encouraging innovation and attracting partners and investors.

Changing household habits:

Initially, it is necessary to raise awareness of CE. One way is to create an online platform of information on the subject to develop real citizen awareness. After creating an emblematic place for CE, another important step is to design and deploy labels that allow for excellent visibility of products for recycling. Indeed, recycling labels attached to products sold in Japan enable even children to sort waste.

Putting actors together and networking:

Promoting the second life of products requires facilitating the donation and repair of products through networking. Today, it is almost always easier to throw away an item than to give it away or repair it. While there are some online platforms for voluntary donation of products, they are not an effective collection solution. The points of voluntary contribution are not always close to the home, nor widely known by citizens. As far as the repair of products is concerned, there is generally a lack of available spare parts. Craftsmen, companies, and public authorities should implement solutions to facilitate the donation and repair of products. Another action in this area is the reduction and recovery of food waste. This begins with the prevention and valorisation of bio-waste through actions such as composting, methanisation, and the use of collective catering. It is important to value local composting and use existing equipment for the reconditioning or processing of unsold food. Reducing the use of disposable packaging is an essential component of food waste reduction.

Changing regulations:

The legislation must establish uniform rules throughout the French territories to promote CE. Compliance for the rules can be facilitated in two ways: by incentive measures, such as encouraging taxation and quality labeling, or by coercive measures, such as penalties. In recycling food and organic material, it is possible to improve the agronomic quality of compost. As part of construction activities, the emphasis should be on renovation rather than demolition. CE should be at the center of the debates in presidential elections and be looked upon as a challenge to French politicians. Let us hope that the current and future heads of state and their government teams will promote this new business model.

The corresponding author received financial support from the Institute of Economic Research of Aoyama Gakuin University in 2016.

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Citation: Levillain A, Matsumoto S (2017) Circular Economy and Waste Management: A Comparative Study between Japan and France. J Waste Manag Env Issues 1:108.

Published: 07 August 2017

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