Japan: companies turn to recycling

Japan: companies turn to recycling
Published: 12 May 2016


Japan’s cement makers are turning to resource recycling as alternative revenue sources as demand for cement is seen shrinking over the mid- to long term. Japanese demand for cement declined for a second straight year in FY15, dropping 6.3 per cent to 42.66Mt. The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be the only anomaly in this otherwise waning market.

Taiheiyo Cement is focussing on recovering precious metals and substitute fuels from scrapped automobiles. Taiheiyo Cement is developing a new technology for extracting precious metals, such as silver and gold, from automobile shredder residue (ASR) and converting the plastic waste into a fuel substitute for coal usable in cement making.

The company expects to have the technology ready in FY19 and plans to invest several billion yen to build a recycling plant that can process 4t of ASR an hour. Including the revenues from the sale of precious metals extracted from the ASR and the cost savings associated with using the fuel substitute for coal, Taiheiyo calculates that its overall business with resource recycling will garner profits of CNY1.2bn (US$184.2m) a year.

Meanwhile, Tokuyama is focussing on drywall recycling. The company set up a joint venture with drywall seller Chiyoda Ute in 2011, that is spending  CNY2bn (US$307m) to build a new recycling plant in Chiba Prefecture. The new plant will begin operations in July with the capacity to recycle 80,000t of drywall a year, tripling the company's total recycling capacity to 120,000t.

Tokuyama expects the drywall recycling business to produce sales in excess of CNY1bn (US$153m) in FY18 alone.