IRRSG Lecture Meeting ? Concern about decline in Japan’s recycling and dismantling technologies due to increased export of used cars by Prof. Togawa of Kumamoto Univ.


On October 16, the 2015 4th IRRSG regular meeting was held in the Josui-Kaikan in Tokyo, where 7 lectures were given on automobile recycling from wide-ranging stand points such as a car manufacturer, a steel manufacturer, the Japanese Environment Agency, a consultant and a university professor with more than 100 participants.

Each of the seven lectures was superb and valuable, but we would like to focus here on the lectures given by Prof. Togawa of Kumamoto University and Mr. Takeda of Taiheiyo Cement Corp.

Prof. Togawa is said to have been in poor health until recently, but he was the most exciting speaker of the day with his powerful and aggressive lecture as if he had blown away our worries. It must be because his honest message just had a point and he told us a real story that made sense.


Prof. Togawa highlighted the concerns about the decline of “recycling and dismantling technologies” in Japan.

In Japan, 3.5 million end-of-life vehicles are annually generated and 1.5 million of them are exported to overseas countries. He emphasized that Japan might lose the acquired technologies as “materials” to dismantle are gone.

Here, we would like to introduce some of Prof. Togawa’s comments submitted to the government council, which are really on-target.


That is, the decline of technologies leads to decline an entire industry itself. To prevent this, it is required to utilize resources by recycling them in Japan.

This is a point common to all "resources". At the moment, resources and distribution are based on trading with overseas, but "preparations" for unforeseeable circumstances are necessary.

Every attendant nodded to his pointed idea of “maintaining and passing on the technologies".

Also, we would like to focus on recycling and disposal methods of "carbon fiber" mentioned by Mr. Takeda at the end of his lecture.

As a result, “incineration” is the disposal method of carbon fiber at the current moment. Recycling method of carbon fire is still “under development”, but incinerating method has also lots of problems due to the flame retardancy of carbon fiber.

It requires substantial time to incinerate carbon fiber. Some incinerators don’t accept carbon fiber. I had an impression that carbon fiber would turn into a very troublesome material after use.

Speaking of carbon fiber, aircrafts pop into my head.
“Carbon fiber” aircrafts have already flied and are being ordered in bulk. Recyclable aircrafts are still more in Japan, but the lives of most aircrafts are generally said to end within 20 years. It's important to establish a recycling method of carbon fiber until then.

As other lecturers also mentioned to make products from recyclers’ points of view, to be honest, carbon fiber aircrafts are not thought about recycling

Carbon fiber can be said to be made by snap decision to meet urgent needs to improve fuel efficiency and durability. They are certainly excellent to use, but they will become a troublesome material after use. As its disposal method has yet to be established, Japan will be back to what it used to be if the landfill disposal came to life again.

Manufacturing Japan should have the standpoint as a top recycling country, Japan. We felt that we must not allow the technologies to decline at the lecture meeting this time as Prof. Togawa mentioned.

The lectures and lecturers of the 2015 4th IRRSG regular meeting are as follows;

“Current problems on automobile recycling and future policy direction” by Yuji Yamaguchi, Assistant Manager of Recycling Promotion Department of Waste and Recycling Division at Minister's Secretariat, Ministry of the Environment.

“Valuable iron base metal in automobiles” by Eizaburo Nakanishi, Manager of Technology Development Department at Tokyo Steel Co., Ltd.

“Efforts towards Car to Car recycling as an automobile manufacturer” by Mr. Tomokazu Abe, Director of Environment Center of Japan Administration Headquarters Business Planning Department at Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

“Urban mine and urban oil field in automobile recycling” by Professor Kenichi Togawa, Faculty of Law at Kumamoto University

“NI-HM/LIB recycling in Umicore” by Mr. Io Matsushima, Manager of Precious Metal and Battery Recycling at Umicore Japan Co., Ltd.

“Efforts on automobile recycling at Taiheiyo Cement” by Mr. Junichi Takeda, PIC of Business Development Group of Environment Division at Taiheiyo Cement Corp.

“Suggestions for overall optimization of automobile recycling process through collaboration between the parties” by Mr. Kotaro Shimizu, Chief Researcher of Environment and Energy Department at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting

Convivial party was held lively as usual after the lecture meeting.


(Edited by Sasaki)

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