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  Working of Environmental Problems

- Iron and steel recycling contributes to the environment -

We would like to introduce the Japan Iron & Steel Recycling Institute (Referred to as the Institute below) and its members' work in dealing with environmental problems, starting with the following four points:

1. It has long been considered common sense to recycle iron and steel.
2. We have made efforts to develop superior recycling technology and systems, so as to reduce the burden on the environment.
3. We have made suggestions regarding legislation pertaining to the environment and recycling, and we have participated in cooperative efforts to build a system supporting a "recycling society."
4. We have challenged the recycling and environmental industry to develop its existing iron and steel recycling technologies.

Recycling has long been considered of importance to society, but not much attention has been paid to the recycling of iron and steel. That is because iron and steel recycling has been done as a matter of course for a long time, without getting as much attention as recycling does today.

The recycling of scrap iron and steel plays an important role in supplying precious raw materials for steel in Japan, which has almost no natural resources, and it has accompanied the development of Japan since the Meiji Period (which started in 1868). These days, recycled iron and steel scrap accounts for nearly 30 million tons of the nearly 100 million tons of steel produced in Japan. In the past several years, the volume of iron and steel scrap production has exceeded domestic demand, so it is now being exported to overseas markets. Iron and steel scrap from all over Japan, in excess of 7 million tons, is now being exported, with concentration in the Asian region.

Iron and steel are being recycled over a broad geographical area in large quantities.
The market for recycled iron and steel is not only a domestic one, but it extends to overseas markets as well. The basic technologies and systems for recycling are well established, so that almost all iron and steel scrap in Japan is recycled. Iron and steel recycling has made contributions to environmental conservation, and has made it to the "honor roll" in the world of recycling.

Iron and steel recycling has a long history. The Institute is constantly working in a variety of ways to raise the level of iron and steel recycling even higher and to make it even more in tune with the times. Even in the past, we have always introduced the latest technologies, contributing to the automation, energy conservation, and operating safety of recycling. We have also encouraged member companies to obtain patents for carrying out more suitable recycling. We have also operated recycling systems that utilize "metal recycling slips" that ensure the proper recycling and distribution of iron and steel scrap. As an industry association, we have recently been encouraging companies to obtain ISO 14000 series certification, the international standard for environmental management. We have also been involved in introducing the latest recycling technology and providing information on the ever more complex laws and regulations pertaining to the environment and recycling. We have been particularly active in recycling systems that place an emphasis on the environment.

The Institute is playing an active part in developing systems for a "recycling society" by utilizing its wealth of experience in iron and steel recycling to formulate new legislative initiatives relating to recycling. For example, in the Automotive Recycling Law (enforced in January,2005), the Institute participated as an industry association in a study group of the Industrial Structure Commission to study the details of the legislation, making proposals from the standpoint of people with actual experience in recycling. We also work closely with relevant administrative agencies and groups in a variety of ways, advising them on the ideal role of recycling in developing social systems in the future.

Members of the Institute are working on developing new technologies and grappling with the technological challenges involved in recycling iron and steel scrap derived from diverse sources and used in composite materials, aiming to achieve a higher recycling ratio. Our members are striving to improve the recovery rate of iron and nonferrous metals, while conducting research and applying more user-friendly approaches to dismantling and sorting a variety of products such as cars, household appliances, office equipment, and so forth. Members are also taking up the challenge of recycling materials other than metals, such as plastics, using thermal recycling of residues after sorting, an approach originally based on the recycling of iron and steel. All of these activities are in response to the needs of the times.

The Institute has been conducting all of these activities over many years as a matter of due course. Not only is the Institute striving to achieve a higher level of iron and steel recycling, while constantly improving its technology and systems so they will be responsive to the needs of the times, but it also wants to contribute to preserving the environment by building a "recycling society."
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