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Recycling or chemical stabilization? Greenhouse gas emissions from treatment of waste containing mercury under the Minamata Convention

A Correction to this article was published on 08 September 2023

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Appropriate management of waste containing mercury is important. However, reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with this process is equally important, warranting research into waste management methods that emit the least amount of GHGs. We evaluated GHG emissions from recycling systems of spent fluorescent lamps and dry cell batteries discarded by households in Japan using a life cycle assessment technique. The results show significant GHG reduction from resource recovery; therefore, it is essential to ensure that resource recovery is conducted properly. Regarding the spent fluorescent lamp recycling system, the transportation process contributes a large amount of GHG emissions if the waste is not crushed. It is recommended that they be crushed before being transported to improve transportation efficiency. The larger the population of a city, the lower the per-capita collection of waste containing mercury. Due to the hazardous nature of mercury, it is necessary to encourage its separate collection. The demand for mercury will decrease in the future, and it is possible that collected mercury will be disposed of through chemical stabilization. This study clarifies no significant, less than 0.01 kg-CO2e/kg-waste, increase in GHG emissions associated with the transition from mercury recycling to chemical stabilization.

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This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (JPMEERF20S20604) of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the plant operators who cooperated to provide data on the mercury recovery process.


This study was funded by Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, JPMEERF20S20604, Katsuyuki Nakano, JPMEERF20S20604, Eiji Yamasue, JPMEERF20S20604, Masaki Takaoka, Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, JPMEERF20S20604, Kosai Shoki.

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Conceptualization: Katsuyuki Nakano; Methodology: Katsuyuki Nakano; Formal analysis and investigation: Katsuyuki Nakano; Writing—original draft preparation: Katsuyuki Nakano; Writing—review and editing: Kosai Shoki, Eiji Yamasue, Masaki Takaoka; Funding acquisition: Eiji Yamasue, Masaki Takaoka

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Correspondence to Katsuyuki Nakano.

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Nakano, K., Shoki, K., Yamasue, E. et al. Recycling or chemical stabilization? Greenhouse gas emissions from treatment of waste containing mercury under the Minamata Convention. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 25, 2668–2680 (2023).

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