The House of Councilors on Friday approved a bill mandating the retrieval and destruction of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gases used in automobile air conditioners, industrial refrigerators and cooling systems.

The law will ban emissions of three man-made gases — chlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

These gases are known to ravage the ozone layer and have been implicated in global warming. Violators of the new legislation will be subject to a prison term of up to one year and a fine of 500,000 yen.

The collection and destruction of gases encased in commercial refrigerators and cooling systems will begin next April, with users of the machines paying registered businesses to remove and destroy the gases.

Retrieval of the gases in automobiles will be delayed until October, due to industry demands for a grace period in order to prepare a collection network.

Automobile owners will shoulder gas retrieval and destruction costs through a mechanism run by the auto industry. The issues of how and when the fees will be collected will be decided in August by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The legislation adopts the principle of “expanded producer responsibility” by obliging automakers and importers of foreign vehicles to ensure the harmful gases are removed from automobiles and destroyed.

The United States and Europe already have retrieval systems or legislation in place for such gases.

The production of CFCs was outlawed in 1995, nearly 20 years after scientists first realized that the gases might be harming the ozone layer.

HCFCs, which are alternatives to CFCs, pose less of a threat to the ozone layer but are greenhouse gases. HFCs are safe in terms of the ozone, but are still highly potent greenhouse gases.

Deadline set for PCBs

The Diet passed a bill into a law Friday to complete the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, within 15 years.

The law will take effect in July.

Under the law, PCB processing firms will be obliged to detoxify PCBs within a certain period. Offenders will be subject to penalties.

The Diet also passed a bill to allow Japan Environment Cooperation, a special public firm, to engage in the PCB disposal business.

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