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10/11/2019

Circular economy to likely change society

Domestic companies need to further disseminate information

Question: You have long argued the necessity to drastically change the law system to effectively utilize so-called venous resources (alluding to the human circulatory system) such as waste materials.

In the wake of increasing interest in the circular economy, it is highly expected that various issues surrounding recycling would garner attention again, isn’t it?

Hosoda: I agree. What is known as the “arterial chain” refers to a trade flow beginning with substances being produced out of resources until they become end items and are used.

Meanwhile, the “venous chain” refers to a process that sees materials recycled out of used products and materials, as well as residue originated from production and consumption activities again brought into the arterial chain.

In Europe, I feel a strategy that connects arterial and venous chains has been successful by making good use of institutional frameworks.

I think Japan should work on effectively linking those chains based on an idea to prompt transformation of business models among companies, not an extension of relevant policies regarding waste.

Partnerships are key

Question: Partnerships seem to be crucial for companies in pursuing such a goal. What is your opinion?

Hosoda: Business operators working on recycling alone cannot establish a venous market. Collaboration between companies would be essential in this regard.

For example, Suntory Holdings Ltd., jointly with Kyoei Industry Co. engaging in recycling of plastic, has developed a technology to mold PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles utilizing materials created from used bottles. Production lines are already in operation.

A molding machine that uses recycled polyethylene terephthalate flakes features a technology jointly developed by Suntory Holdings Ltd., Kyoei Industry Co. and foreign-based companies.

I think cooperation with logistics companies and nongovernmental organizations is also important in expanding such efforts.

Possible future society

Question: METI is now working on compiling a vision for a circular economy. As the chair of its study group, what kind of a future do you want to pursue?

Hosoda: I’d like to clearly present a perspective so that we consider resource circulation from an economic policy viewpoint.

Besides, I’d like to illustrate a future society featuring a Japanese-style circular economy — different from the one in the West — that would create a new additional value, which would contribute to economic growth, through reconsidering the Japanese sense of beauty and spirituality.

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