This article examines the present circumstances of recycling of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment discarded in Japan from the domestic and international viewpoints of material circulation. It is pointed out that some of the discarded items are absorbed into an invisible flow by informal economic activities, being exported in the form of secondhand equipment and secondary materials. Since the equipment has a pollution potential as well as a resource potential, it is anticipated that the pollution potential may possibly be realized if the equipment is mishandled at recycling plants in developing countries. To reduce the invisible flow as much as possible and to reduce the pollution potential from diffusion in developing countries, a policy tool such as extended producer responsibility should be applied to retailers of the equipment, as well as to producers.
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