Visit to a company promoting industrial waste 3R in Kinki Area

(Industrial Waste Close-up 2008.07)

General Ecology CO., Ltd. Sakai Waterfront Comprehensive Recycle Center

Outline of General Ecology CO., Ltd. (General Ecology)

Foundation : March 26, 2003
Location of head quarters: 1-5-38 Chikuko Shin-machi, Nishi-ku, Sakai city, Osaka 592-8331
URL : http://www.general-ecology.co.jp/
Business category : ・Treatment of construction related mixed waste (material recycle)
・Disposal of specially controlled industrial waste including infectious waste (thermal recycle)
・Treatment of waste oil and sludge
Employee : 61 persons
Major plant: ・Thermal recycle plant
  Kiln-stoker type incineration: 95 t/day (24h)
  Sludge drying plant: 36 m3/day (24h)
・Material recycle plant
  Separation/shredding plant:100 t/day (8h)
・Sludge treatment plant:30 m3/day (24h)
Treatment achievement: 42,000 t (industrial waste treatment amount in 2006)

Introduction

In Kinki area encompassing Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, public-participated industrial waste disposal was initiated ahead of other parts of the country. In Osaka prefecture, Osaka industrial waste disposal public corporation, the first industrial waste disposal public corporation in Japan, was established in 1971, and then in Hyogo prefecture, Hansin environmental public corporation was established in 1975 as well. It is said that experiences and know-how obtained through the sea area solid industrial waste disposal carried out by the above two corporations were applied to the sea area solid waste disposal initiative (commonly known as “Phoenix initiative”) carried out by “Osaka Bay Regional Offshore Environmental Improvement Center”. On the other hand, it is also true that the stable availability of final disposal site over the years has dampened 3R efforts in Kinki area. However, in recent years, waste reduction and recycling projects and so forth have actively been developed including construction of an eco-town at a vacant lot of the sea area solid waste repository site of Osaka industrial waste disposal public corporation.

General Ecology, a newly-established company in the field of recycling in Kinki area is the one to be chosen. GE is located at a waterfront of Sakai city” having Sakai/Senboku industrial zone behind. Shipping base of the eco-town and Phoenix premises is located near to it.

Taking advantage of such a good location, GE is working on recycling and intermediate treatment business by developing a network with eco-town companies. This time, JW made a field trip to GE, and interviewed Mr. Arai(Photo 1), the chief of the Center on past and current activities, and future visions.

From right to left, Mr. Arai, Chief the Center and Mr. Taniguchi, Senior manager
Photo 1. From right to left, Mr. Arai, Chief the Center and Mr. Taniguchi, Senior manager

Interviewing Mr. Arai, the chief of the Center

Q: Three years have passed since you started up this business. How do you evaluate the activities during such a period?

A: As for recycling business, it was tough to work on it by GE alone so that GE has worked on in cooperation with “Recycling Assort Center Co., Ltd.” and “Bio Ethanol Japan” whose locations are both in Osaka eco-town, and “Kuninaka Environmental Development Co., Ltd.” and “Daiei Kankyo” those are the parent companies of GE. For promoting recycling business, there are a number of aspects that are expected to be tackled by society as a whole. First, a market for recycled products is not yet mature enough. Second, wastes are exported to foreign countries as resources. Recyclers won’t grow up in Japan, if recycling is left to a market principle without any policy instrument.

Q: Let us know about the activities you have worked on actively.

A: Last year (2007), we garnered the certification of Eco-action 21 since we thought it was important. We use this as a training tool for our staff. Particularly, it is most important to educate staff to prevent them from occupational accidents. Accident prevention is, needless to say, not only good for staff themselves, but also good for our company, because it is helpful to prevent staff from leaving their job and to get trust of community members as well. As a result of emphasis on staff education, we have had very few accidents so far.

Q: What kind of education you provide for your staff?

A: First of all, we educate them to have corporate etiquette, and next to do good communication among staff. We divide our staff into four groups; each group has a meeting for presentations and information exchanges every month. Accident can be prevented with close communication among staff.

Q: Do you support the promotion of Eco-action 21?

A: Because in Osaka prefecture including Sakai city only a few companies have obtained certificates, we sometimes give a presentation on our Eco-action 21 activities and the effects, upon request from a local government, Kinki area environmental office of the Ministry Environment and the certification body of Eco-action 21.

Q: How do you communicate with outside stakeholders such as industrial waste generators?

A: We open our facility once a year for industrial waste generators to take a look-around our facility. Also we provide a seminar on industrial waste management to those who are interested. We often hear their comments that “taking a look-around your facility and having your direct explanations enabling us to make a waste management contract with confidence.” Of course, we open our facility for the staff of local governments concerned. It is important for an administration body to see and tackle with industrial waste issues in the same way as a waste management business does.

Q: Please let us know about your business plans and challenges in the future.

A: We will build the second incinerator to prepare for a regular inspection of the first one. We schedule that the construction will start next year (2009); its operation will start in 2010. As for recycling business, Waste Management Law requires obtaining separate business license in terms of business area, type of waste and type of waste management. Accordingly, cooperation or tie-up with related companies is conceived to be very useful. We will make use of business-to-business network in the future as well.

In this business, the most important resources are human and technology. We will place emphasis on the development of human resource and technology in the future as well. Close connection with local communities is important, too. Thus, we will recruit staff from local communities and also continue to actively participate in planting activities and beautification/cleaning activities.

Recycling business has a bottleneck at its exit (demands for recycled products). We have to create a society which actively uses recycled products bearing a concept that “Wastes are recourses.”

After the interview

Arriving at the premises, visitors were deeply impressed by seeing a really large green area. A thermal recycle plant(Photo 2) stands at the center of a lot, is eye-catching. This plant properly disposes specially controlled industrial waste and industrial waste, while it uses thermal energy recovered from incineration them for drying sludge and power generation. In appearance, it is like a chemical plant. A rest house is located next to an administrating building and has a multipurpose hall which is fully used for staff training seminar, communication with generators, and citizen’s environmental study. GE’s policy and stance for their business can be acknowledged with this kind of arrangement.

A view of thermal kiln type stoker incinerator and power generation equipment
Photo 2. A view of thermal kiln type stoker incinerator and power generation equipment

It is said that waste recycling industry is a growing industry in 21th century. Furthermore, since it functions as one of the key industry for the formation of a sound material-cycle society, such a facility has a nature of infrastructure of a community. GE stands on relatively good business environment including the conditions of location. However, it is not easy for GE to continue stable business looking toward the future, because that for facility installation and community dealing, a larger amount of up-front investment is required and the business operation after the start-up may be more influenced by social economic trend than others. In addition, challenge for a qualified management business may require further cost.

The nurture of good quality companies, in particular, venture companies in the waste recycling field, is necessary to be supported by a whole society because solo efforts by individual company or industry has limitations.

Flow of recycling/proper treatment of waste

This figure shows >Flow of recycling/proper treatment of waste (Figure 1).

Flow of recycling/proper treatment of waste
Figure 1. Flow of recycling/proper treatment of waste