The Research Center for Material Cycles and Waste Management was established in April 2001 and promoted survey and research activities until 2005 according to a five-year research plan (first five-year plan). The Center, formed as a research center in support of the government's environmental policies to address waste management recognized as an urgent, political issue, promoted survey and research activities and caused its research outputs to be refl ected in policies determined by the Ministry of the Environment, etc. by making approaches from the following three angles.
We contributed to the determination of numerical targets in the national government's Basic Plan for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society with material flow analyses and research on the indicators based on them.
For example, the environmental loads reduction effect of recycling plastic packaging and containers in the steel industry was compared and evaluated with the life cycle assessment (LCA) technique.
We promoted technology development to obtain hydrogen, which can be used as an energy source in fuel cells, from waste by means of gasification through pyrolysis at a relatively low temperature as well as microorganism fermentation and endeavored to develop a system capitalizing on the regional characteristics of waste generation.
We elucidated the cause of high-concentration hydrogen sulfide gas generation in an inert waste-type disposal site and showed a solution to this problem.
We developed stabilization acceleration technology to shorten the time period till aftercare termination.
We conducted behavior analysis and substance flow analysis of hazardous substances and studied control measures in the material cycle and waste treatment/disposal processes.
For example, as to brominated fl ame retardants which have accumulated in the environment and become our health concerns, we tried to identify their possible emission sources and information related to human risks (exposure pathways) by estimating emission factors and emission amount in various processes, and studied the emission release control technologies.
We developed rapid and cost-effective monitoring methods for screening hazardous substances in the material cycle and waste treatment/disposal processes.
As one example, bioassay methods using cells or biomaterials dealt in our research were adopted and applied as official simplified methods to measure dioxins in waste incineration gas and ash under Japanese regulations.
We conducted technology development to treat hazardous substances in wastes safely and properly.
With regard to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), which are very persistent and bio-accumulative in the environment, we conducted research on the development of decomposition technologies and analysed decomposition mechanism, which provided useful information to the PCB Waste treatment program promoted by the government.