IJAT Vol.16 No.6 pp. 747-755
doi: 10.20965/ijat.2022.p0747


Analysis of Substance Flow and the Transition of Industrial Structure of Indium in Japan

Akihiro Yoshimura*,†, Yuma Nishioka**, and Yasunari Matsuno*

*Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Chiba University
1-33 Yayoi-cho, Inage-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 263-8522, Japan

Corresponding author

**Faculty of Engineering, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan

March 24, 2022
June 1, 2022
November 5, 2022
indium, flat panel display, recycling potential, substance flow analysis

Indium is a rare metal that is an essential raw material for indium tin oxide (ITO) essential for transparent electrodes for displays. However, its supply is unstable as it is a by-product of zinc. In this research, we investigated the domestic substance flow of indium used for liquid crystal applications in Japan. Accordingly, we quantitatively evaluated the amount of indium contained in the process loss and the content of indium in end-of-life products. Through this quantification, we examined the visualization of loss in the entire flow and the usability of end-of-life products as secondary production. Consequently, it was found that the amount of indium used in the production of end-use-products in Japan has increased significantly due to the growth of liquid crystal display TVs, particularly in preparation for the transition to terrestrial digital broadcasting in 2011, and has drastically decreased after 2012. Meanwhile, some manufacturing bases have been relocated from Japan to other countries, and a certain proportion of end-use-products are imported, by which we infer the domestic input amount of end-use-products in recent years is estimated to have remained at approximately 4 t. Based on the result, after having continued to increase to the maximum value of approximately 70 t in 2014, the in-use stock has exhibited a gradually decreasing trend. Moreover, the indium content in end-of-life products has continued to increase, and in 2015, it exceeded the amount of the end-use-products input into society. Furthermore, compared with the process loss at the time of processing from ITO to a display, the gap has been narrowed from 100 times or more, and the indium content in end-of-life products in 2008 to about 15 times in 2017. These results suggest that the recycling potential of end-of-life products has increased with the spread of indium-based products.

Cite this article as:
A. Yoshimura, Y. Nishioka, and Y. Matsuno, “Analysis of Substance Flow and the Transition of Industrial Structure of Indium in Japan,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.16 No.6, pp. 747-755, 2022.
Data files:
  1. [1] JOGMEC, “Material flow 2018, indium.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  2. [2] NEDO. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  3. [3] Shin-Etsu Polymer Co., Ltd., “Shin-Etsu Polymer Group Sustainability report 2019.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  4. [4] Sharp Corporation, “IGZO.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  5. [5] JEITA. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  6. [6] T. Homma and T. Muratani, “Material Collection from Liquid Crystal Display Wasted Panels,” SHARP Technical J., Vol.24, pp. 17-22, 2005.
  7. [7] Y. Konishi, “Final report of Environment Research and Technology Development Fund.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  8. [8] K. Whalen and D. Peck, “In the Loop – Sustainable, Circular Product Design and Critical Materials,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.8, No.5, pp. 664-676, 2014.
  9. [9] K. Halada, “Activities of Circular Economy in Japan – Towards Global Multi-Value Circulation –,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.14, No.6, pp. 867-872, 2020.
  10. [10] K. Nakajima, K. Yokoyama, K. Nakano, and T. Nagasaka, “Substance Flow Analysis of Indium for Flat Panel Displays in Japan,” Materials Trans., Vol.48, pp. 2365-2369, 2007.
  11. [11] C. Licht, L. T. Peiró, and G. Villalba, “Global Substance Flow Analysis of Gallium, Germanium, and Indium: Quantification of Extraction, Uses, and Dissipative Losses within their Anthropogenic Cycles,” J. of Industrial Ecology, Vol.19, pp. 890-903, 2015.
  12. [12] S. Lin, J. Mao, W. Chen, and L. Shi, “Indium in mainland China: Insights into use, trade, and efficiency from the substance flow analysis,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol.149, pp. 312-321, 2019.
  13. [13] Y. Zhou, H. Rechberger, J. Li, Q. Li, G. Wang, and S. Chen, “Dynamic analysis of indium flows and stocks in China: 2000–2018,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol.167, 105394, 2021.
  14. [14] A. Yoshimura, I. Daigo, and Y. Matsuno, “Global Substance Flow Analysis of Indium,” Materials Trans., Vol.54, pp. 102-109, 2013.
  15. [15] Impress Watch. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  16. [16] IT Media Inc. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  17. [17] Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  18. [18] JEITA, “Domestic Shipments of Major Consumer Electronic Equipment.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  19. [19] S. Ishihara, “An attractive mineral resource: Indium from the Toyoha mine,” Chishitsu News, Vol.605, pp. 46-54, 2005.
  20. [20] ENEOS Holdings. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  21. [21] S. Ishihara and H. Murakami, “Present understanding on the high-grade indium resources,” Chishitsu News, Vol.670, pp. 70-75, 2010.
  22. [22] JOGMEC, “Material flow 2009, indium.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  23. [23] T. Kamiki and A. Hosoi, “Kikinzoku rare metal no recycle gijutsu shusei,” NTS Inc., pp. 397-420, 2007 (in Japanese).
  24. [24] T. Kuramochi, H. Iigusa, R. Akiike, K. Matsumaru, K. Utsumi, and T. Shibutami, “Transparent electrode material for solar cells,” TOSOH Research & Technology Review, Vol.54, pp. 35-39, 2010.
  25. [25] M. Yahiro and C. Adachi, “Fundamental information and production technology of organic EL.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  26. [26] Hiraoka Special Glass Mfg., Co., Ltd.
  27. [27] Editorial department of CMC publishing, “Market on LCD, Components & Chemicals 2001,” CMC Publishing Co., Ltd., 2001.
  28. [28] Yano Research Institute Ltd., “Rare metal 2020 Tembo,” 2010.
  29. [29] Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, “Yearbook of machinery statistics.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  30. [30] Mobile Society Research Institute. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  31. [31] Business J. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  32. [32] Impress Watch. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  33. [33] Ministry of Finance, “Trade Statistics of Japan.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  34. [34] M. Oguchi, T. Kameya, T. Tasaki, N. Tamai, and N. Tanikawa, “Estimation of Lifetime Distributions and Waste Numbers of 23 Types of Electrical and Electronic Equipment,” J. Jpn. Soc. of Waste Manag. Experts, Vol.17, pp. 50-60, 2006.
  35. [35] S. Murakami, H. Ohsugi, R. Murakami-Suzuki, A. Mukaida, and H. Tsujimura, “Average Lifespan of Mobile Phones and in-Use and Hibernating Stocks in Japan,” J. Life Cycle Assess., Vol.5, pp. 138-144, 2009.
  36. [36] M. Oguchi, T. Kameya, T. Tasaki, N. Tanikawa, and K. Urano, “Average Lifespan Estimation for Electrical and Electronic Products Based on Quantification Analysis of Relationship with Product Characteristics,” J. Jpn. Soc. of Waste Manag. Experts, Vol.18, pp. 182-193, 2007.
  37. [37] T. Tasaki, M. Oguchi, T. Kameya, and K. Urano, “A Prediction Method for the Number of Waste Durable Goods,” J. Jpn. Soc. of Waste Manag. Experts, Vol.12, pp. 49-58, 2001.
  38. [38] Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  39. [39] Science Graphics. Co., Ltd. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  40. [40] Panasonic Corporation. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  41. [41] Hitachi, Ltd. [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  42. [42] USGS, Minerals Yearbook 2018 (Indium). [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  43. [43] JETRO, “Report on the leading companies in Taiwan.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  44. [44] Financial Times, “Olympic legacy of Japan’s experiment in urban mining.” [Accessed March 8, 2022]
  45. [45] G. Foo, S. Kara, and M. Pagnucco, “An Ontology-Based Method for Semi-Automatic Disassembly of LCD Monitors and Unexpected Product Types,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.15, No.2, pp. 168-181, 2021.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on Jul. 19, 2024