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G8 Environment Ministers Meeting
2008 Kobe 3R Action Plan

Kobe, Japan, May 24-26, 2008

We, the G8 Environment Ministers, based on our discussion in Kobe of the 3R Initiative, 24-26 May 2008,

Recognizing that the increase in waste generation and waste not treated in an environmentally sound manner is contributing to worsening environmental pollution worldwide including air, soil and water pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions,

Recognizing, at the same time, that the quantity of raw materials wasted as a result of inefficient resource and waste management worldwide is immense,

Noting that the 3Rs, through initiatives to "reduce," "reuse" and "recycle" materials and waste, aim to promote efficient resource use and harmonization of the environment and the economy,

Acknowledging that, by promoting sustainable consumption and production, the 3Rs activities can contribute to increases in resource productivity and decoupling resource consumption and environmental degradation associated with economic activities,

Understanding that, in order to construct a sound material-cycle society by increasing resource productivity and decoupling, it is necessary to ensure efficient resource use and minimization of environmental impact along the entire product life cycle, starting with resource inputs and including the production process, consumer choices, and product use, reuse and recycling (sustainable consumption and production),

Emphasizing that, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to further the promotion of energy recovery, material and chemical recycling, and biological and thermal waste treatment, taking into account the environmental benefits and costs across all waste management processes,

Emphasizing that an international point of view for efficient use of resources through the promotion of the 3Rs is required to respond to the advancing interdependence of the world economy, expansion of trade in materials and products, and resource constraints due to increasing demands,

Recognizing that, with limited technical capacity and knowledge of environmentally sound waste management and the 3Rs, many developing countries face health and environmental risks associated with the improper management of waste,

Noting that, in this context, 3Rs policy can contribute to the promotion of environmentally sound management of waste by supporting the implementation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal,

Realizing that while the transfer of efficient technologies and knowledge to developing countries may help address these issues, such technologies and knowledge must be suitable for local circumstances, cost-effective, environmentally-sound and socially appropriate,

Noting that, in the context of poverty reduction in developing countries, 3Rs policy can contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals by opening up new markets and creating employment opportunities, taking into account the role of the informal sector while at the same time protecting the environment and human health,

Recognizing that resource and waste management policy is a potential driver of innovation and jobs in industrialized and newly industrializing countries,

Recognizing that the consistent application of regulatory, economic and other instruments results in the development of a wide range of technologies, organizations and applications in all areas of the 3Rs as well as in waste management, and that at the same time, it gives rise to new job opportunities with higher skills requirements,

Recognizing the value of the work done by OECD to develop tools for the 3Rs, including tools for environmentally sound waste management, Extended Producer Responsibility, Material Flows Analysis, resource productivity, and sustainable materials management,

Reconfirming that the G8 countries need to show active leadership by promoting sound waste management and effective resource utilization both domestically and at the international level through collaboration with other countries as well as international organizations,

Acknowledging the significant progress of the 3R Initiative in G8 countries and by the European Commission thus far as summarized in the Annex to this Action Plan,

Agree to take the following actions, as appropriate to circumstances in individual countries:

I. Goal 1: Prioritize 3Rs Policies and Improve Resource Productivity

Action 1-1: Prioritize Implementation of 3Rs Policy

Action 1-2: Improve Resource Productivity and Set Targets

Action 1-3: Pursue Co-benefits between the 3Rs and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions

Action 1-4: Promote Science and Technology and Create a Market for 3Rs-related Products

II. Goal 2: Establishment of an International Sound Material-Cycle Society

Action 2-1: Collaborate to Promote Sound International Resource Circulation

Action 2-2: Promote International Trade of 3Rs-related Materials, Goods and Products

III. Goal 3: Collaborate for 3Rs Capacity Development in Developing Countries

Action 3-1: Promote Collaboration with Developing Countries

Action 3-2: Promote Technology Transfer, Information Sharing and Environmental Education

Action 3-3: Promote Partnership between Stakeholders

IV. Follow-up on G8 Activities Based on the Action Plan

[1] Mottainai is a long-established Japanese concept meaning that it is a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full. This expression incorporates a respect for the environment that has been handed down from ages past.

[2] UNEP is host for the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management which was established in 2007 with the overall objective to provide independent scientific assessment of the environmental impacts due to the use of resources over the full life cycle, and advise governments and organisations on ways to reduce these impacts. The panel members participate in their capacity of internationally recognized experts.

[3] St. Petersburg Plan of Action on Global Energy Security, June 2006, paragraph 19: "As part of an integrated approach to the entire resource cycle we reaffirm our commitment to comprehensive measures to optimize the resource cycle within the 3R Initiative (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). In furthering these efforts, we will set targets as appropriate taking account of resource productivity. We will also raise awareness of the importance of energy efficiency and environmental protection through national as well as international efforts."

[4] Possible targets are, for example, resource productivity, abiotic raw materials used, total waste, hazardous waste generation, municipal waste generation, waste per capita, recycling rates, final disposal, energy intensity.

[5] Ministerial Decision on Trade in Remanufactured Goods (TN/MA/W/18/Add.16/Rev.1, 20 December 2007)

[6] Russian Federation is not a member of WTO.

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Annex Progress of the 3R Initiative

Based on the spirit of mottainai, the 3R Initiative aims to establish a sound material-cycle society which values limited resources and does not waste valuable goods or materials by promoting the capacity development of each country and endorsing the development of 3Rs-related science and technology through collaboration among countries, stakeholders and international organizations.

To promote international activities based on the 3Rs concepts, the 3R Initiative was proposed at the G8 Sea Island Summit in 2004 and was officially launched at the Ministerial Conference on the 3R Initiative in Tokyo in 2005. The importance of increasing resource efficiency through environmentally sound management in each country and establishment of the international sound material-cycle society through the 3R Initiative was reiterated at the succeeding G8 Summits.

The directions of the 3R Initiative have been discussed at the Ministerial Conference on the 3R Initiative in 2005, the First Senior Officials Meeting on the 3R Initiative in 2006, and the Second Senior Officials Meeting in 2007. More specifically, these meetings addressed five major issues: (1) promotion of the 3Rs; (2) reduction of barriers to the international flow of 3Rs-related goods and materials; (3) cooperation between developed and developing countries; (4) cooperation among stakeholders; and (5) science and technological development for the 3Rs.

Through this process, a good deal of common understanding has been built up among G8 and non-G8 countries and international organizations as to the need for the prioritization of 3Rs-related policies in each country, capacity development in developing countries and concerted efforts at international/regional levels towards building an international sound material-cycle society, improvements in the infrastructure for information sharing and research, and the pursuit of co-benefits with actions to respond to climate change.

At the 2006 St. Petersburg Summit in particular, the G8 leaders agreed to "set targets as appropriate taking account of resource productivity" in furthering their efforts to optimize resource cycles within the 3R Initiative.

Over the three years since the 3R Initiative was launched, the G8 countries have found it to serve a number of important purposes and recognized its significance as follows:

Along with the advancement of the 3R Initiative, each G8 country has shown leadership by initiating a number of 3Rs-related activities, both domestically and at the international level. Examples of such efforts are given in Table 1 below.

Table 1 Examples of progress in 3Rs-related efforts in the G8 member countries and by the European Commission

  • Waste diversion (recycling and composting) per capita has improved by 24% from 2000 to 2004.
  • Implementing Green Procurement at Federal and Provincial levels and Extended Producers Responsibility programs for specific waste streams.
  • Contributed internationally to the development of guidelines for environmentally sound waste management under OECD.
  • The link between recycling, energy efficiency and reduced GHG emissions has been established and work in this area continues.
European Commission
    Thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (2005), Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources (2005)
  • Revision of the WEEE and RoHS directives (2008) and a target setting for the ELV directive.
  • Established an international panel on sustainable resource management together with UNEP.
  • Proposal for a revised Waste Framework Directive.
  • Proposal for an Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy.
  • National plan for waste prevention (2004).
  • Implemented various awareness campaigns.
  • In addition to the implementation of recycling related regulations of EU, France applied EPR to waste tires (2004) and Unsolicited Flyer (2007).
  • "Grenelle de l'Environnement":
    • reduction of waste production of 5 kg/inhabitant/year each year during five years;
    • increase of recycling rates (e.g. organic matter recovery).
  • Development of sustainable production and consumption (through economic tools such as bonus/malus) and enhanced producer's responsibility (on households hazardous waste, on pieces of furniture).
  • Started introduction of extended producer responsibility in 1988 and later included it in the Act for Promoting Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management and Ensuring Environmentally Compatible Waste Disposal.
  • Through the introduction of various recycling laws, the utilisation of municipal waste as resources increased from 13 % in 1990 to 58% in 2006.
  • Banned landfilling of waste without intermediate treatment.
  • Developed successful incentives for recycling and recycling through internalization of external costs by implementation of high environmental and technical standards.
  • Reduction of GHGs from the waste management sector would account for 10 % of Germany's Kyoto Protocol target.
  • Set a target to double resource productivity by 2020 compared to 1994
  • Set national targets for separated collection of urban solid waste of 50% by the end of 2009 and 60% by the end of 2011.
  • Achieve 25% reduction of Total Material Requirement (TMR) by 2020, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
  • Actively introducing various market instruments under a new financial law in 2007. Also, Italy is utilising environmental indicators and targets including those of waste generation and management for distribution of a part of EU structural funds.
  • Created new markets for materials through the Recycling Consortia for packaging (glass, plastic, wood, paper, steel, aluminium), exhausted oils batteries, under industrial management & responsibility (CONAI system)
  • Japan has a fundamental law (framework) and plan (implementation plan) for establishing a sound material-cycle society. In the fundamental plan, Japan sets targets to be achieved by 2015 for resource productivity [JPY 420,000/ton, GDP/Direct Material Input (DMI)], the cyclical use rate [14-15%, cyclical use amount/ (cyclical use amount + DMI)], and final disposal amount (23 million tons, as the amount of waste brought to landfill).
  • Japan achieved a 70% reduction in its final disposal amount between 1990 and 2005.
  • 3Rs activities were in 2007 incorporated as part of an important environmental strategy called "Becoming a Leading Environmental Nation in the 21st Century: Japan's Strategy for a Sustainable Society".
  • Recycling-related laws have recently been amended to further promote recycling of wastes, such as the recycling of packaging and container waste and food waste.
  • Japan has promoted the 3Rs in Asia through various activities such as policy dialogues and capacity building as well as by closely collaborating with international organisations
  • Various laws for the promotion of the 3Rs are being drafted, including a federal law on recoverable resources. Also there are regulations licensing activities related to hazardous waste treatment.
    • Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of August 29th 2007 No. 545 "On Amendments made to RF Governmental Decree of June 16th 2007 No. 461 "On Rules of Development and Approval of Standards of Waste Creation and Limits on it's Disposal."
    • 40% of consumer and industrial waste is being recovered for reuse or subject to waste treatment.
United Kingdom
  • Revised Waste Strategy for England published in 2007 includes tougher targets on recycling and composting household waste: 40% by 2010, 45% by 2015 and 50% by 2020.
  • New target to reduce amount of household waste not re-used, recycled or composted – by 29% of 2000 totals by 2010 and by 45% by 2020.
  • Implementing economic incentives such as a landfill tax which will escalate from £32/te now to £48/te in 2010.
  • Targeting action on key waste materials: paper, food, glass, aluminum, wood, plastics and textiles as well as actions on products in order to achieve sustainable consumption and production.
  • More effort being place on prevention of illegal transboundary movement under the framework of the Basel Convention.
United States of America
  • The US promotes 3Rs principles though a wide range of measures and programs, including Green Buildings, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (stimulating the purchase of environmentally sound electronics and development of electronics take-back programs), Green Suppliers network, and similar standards and product stewardship programs; focus is on source reduction, toxics reduction, recycling and reuse of materials, and remanufacturing.
  • The US promotes the safe use of industrial materials like coal combustion residue, foundry sands, and construction and demolition debris, with a target of 50% of coal combustion residue beneficially used by 2011; the current rate is 43%.
  • The national municipal solid waste recycling goal is 35%, with a focus on containers, paper, and food wastes; through the efforts of a stakeholder partnership, paper recycling reached 56% in 2007.
  • The US issued an Executive Order in January 2007 to strengthen federal environmental, energy, and transportation management by reflecting the concept of 3Rs.

Source: Compiled by the Ministry of the Environment Japan and the WMR Project, Institute for the Global Environmental Strategies, based on materials for the 2nd Senior Officials Meeting on the 3R Initiative (4-6 October 2007, Bonn, Germany)

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Source: Ministry of the Environment (Japan)

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