Japan from the inside out

Another way to make lemonade from lemons

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, December 8, 2010

THE FOLLOWING ARE some excerpts from an article that appeared in today’s Nishinippon Shimbun.
Production of paper diapers for adults is skyrocketing as the population ages, and local governments must consider how to dispose of them as garbage after use. In 2009, paper diaper production was 1.7 times that of 2003. Efforts are spreading nationwide to reuse them as a fuel source to reduce garbage volume, and some local governments in Kyushu have begun recycling them. Potential hurdles to their reuse, however, are the difficulty of separating them from other refuse and the recovery costs.

The municipal government of Hoki-cho, Tottori, teamed with local businesses to begin trial production of solid fuel using a system that processes used paper diapers. If the system is shown to be effective, they envision using it at such facilities as hot spring resorts to heat boilers. Trial calculations suggest the system could result in savings of up to JPY three million annually.

One of the first local governments in Kyushu to become involved is Oki-machi, Fukuoka. They formed ties with the Total Care System company of Fukuoka City, which has a recycling plant for paper diapers in Omuta. The municipality has conducted trials in which the residents collect the diapers separately in special bags and a municipal vehicle stops by to pick them up.

Oki-machi is currently paying a substantial amount of money to neighboring Okawa for the incineration of burnable refuse. Said a municipal official, “Paper diapers account for about 10% of the town’s burnable refuse. Recycling them would lessen the burden on the environment and reduce public expenditures.”

Total Care System also collects used paper diapers from hospitals and long-term care facilities. They treat and process the diapers and recycle them as fireproofing material.

The Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association reports that 5.019 billion paper diapers for adults were produced in 2009, an increase from the 2.996 billion paper diapers in 2003…The association points out, however, that few municipalities dispose of the diapers separately and treat them as burnable garbage…Those local governments with their own incineration facilities find that to be a more efficient and economical method of disposal.

(end translation)

Here’s a Kyodo article on the same subject from April, and another from CNET. Speaking of incontinence, the author of the latter managed to hold in the “Weird Japan” snark for most of his entry, but still wound up wetting himself in the last sentence.

Noborikawa Seijin is 78 years old, but I don’t think he needs special underwear yet. He just released another CD this year.

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2 Responses to “Another way to make lemonade from lemons”

  1. toadold said

    In my misspent youth I worked in a plant that recycled waste paper into cardboard. It was there that I discovered that recycling isn’t always as good for the environment and as cost saving as everyone believes. Back then the process was pretty simple, put waste paper in a vat, add hot water, and stir/agitate until the paper disolves. Since the resultant puplp was brown and that was an acceptable color for cardboard boxes no bleaching or dies additions were needed. The pulp would be screened as is usual in the paper making process. You would have left over water with pulp strands that were too short. The slurry would be pumped to settling ponds. The thick “paper would be further processed, corrugated and pressed in a continuously operating machine that ran constantly the stuff would come off the last roller and would be cut and stamped to the required shapes. Now figure out the energy costs, how the waste pulp with all its contaminets cost to dispose of, the reduction in timber lease area becacuse of reduced “virgin” wood pulp demand and etc. The main selling point was the “recycled label.”
    I rember the adds for Blue Star ointment, Depends, and Massingail, so I don’t have a lot of snark left in me esp. since I’m 65.

  2. level3 said

    Osaka burns almost all of its garbage, and about 8 of the giant incinerators (including the Willie Wonka style one at Maishima) use the heat to generate steam and electricty. They’re actually getting worried because the amount of garbage is going down (less consumption, population not growing)

    Don’t see how adding in a bunch of extra steps to the waste –> burning process can be good for anything except the people who get the contract to try to turn diapers into fuel to be burned anyway, especially if a big part of the process will probably be sterilizing and drying, which takes quite a bit of energy.

    Just shows that government contracts go to people who use the magic issue words.
    “Environment” + “senior citizen issue” = fat contract with no demand for results, or even much sense up front either, it seems

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