The Concept of Eco-town
The Eco-Town Project was created in fiscal 1997 under Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, or METI) and the former Ministry of Health and Welfare (project was later transferred to the present Ministry of Environment).
It was founded on the basic concept of "zero-emissions." In essence, this concept is about ultimately reducing waste generation to zero, by taking the "waste" arising in citizen lifestyles and industrial activities, and utilizing it to the greatest extent possible as raw materials in other industries.
The Eco-Town project has two objectives:
- To stimulate local economies by nurturing the growth of environmental industries that take advantage of the industrial capabilities in each region
- To create integrated systems that are in harmony with the environment, and to involve industry, the public sector, and consumers, with the aim of creating a resource-recycling society in a given region.
Eco-Towns have a number of key features such as (a) strong legislation, shifting the market towards a sound material-cycle society, (b) national and local governments are spearheading the drive to bring together industry clusters to be more sustainable, (c) increasing product research and development – in both public and private sectors, including universities, (d) large and rapidly expanding eco-business market, domestically and internationally, (e) strong focus on environmental technologies and ESTs, and innovative/cutting-edge solutions to solve environmental problems, and (f) focus on energy conservation, material development and integrated waste management are also features of Eco-Towns.
As of 2006, 26 areas in Japan have been approved by the government as Eco-Town projects.