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How Japan Turns Waste Into Energy


The Ariake Waste plant sits smugly in the heart of Tokyo City without indication of its existence with the exception of its shape and size.


(This is the first in a series of articles on the Asian country of Japan using waste material to provide energy for its people).


TOYKO, Japan — As Japan and Jamaica continue to celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations, the nexus of which has been strengthened since diplomatic relations were established on March 16, 1964, both countries have been enjoying excellent relations of cooperation, friendship and trade.


Today, there are 316 people of Jamaican descent living in Japan and 158 people of Japanese descent living in Jamaica.


Inside the Control Room at the Ariake Waste Plant in Tokyo


A recent visit to this East Asia country revealed a number of lessons that a small island state like Jamaica and other members of the CARICOM could learn from. Turning waste into energy is one such.


“The most important idea is to implement the 3R rules – reduce, reuse and recycle,” Hisakazu Nikaido, engineer and manager at the Ariake Waste-to-Energy Plant in Tokyo told the Jamaica Observer during a recent visit to the plant. “But in order for us to reduce garbage it is necessary to decrease what may result in generating garbage and reuse and recycle what is produced and consumed,” Nikaido explained. “The segregation or separation of waste is quite important and in some cases the raw waste, such as the garbage from the kitchen is quite useful for feeding pigs or cows – animals in general, or it can be used for treating plants,” he went on.


He said that garbage can be beneficial to Jamaica and other Caribbean states if used effectively, since the Ariake plant now earns US$1 million annually from selling electricity and heat, while other plants earn more money because of their sizes. The Ariake plant generates 100,000 tonnes of waste annually mainly from offices in the area.


“The main principle is the segregation and separation of your waste. But before a country like Jamaica can invest in the type of equipment that is needed in local cities you have to build the awareness for the 3Rs. Without the awareness of the 3Rs this kind of system cannot exist,” Nikaido said.


The system Nikaido referred to is one that exists in Tokyo under the programme Clean Association of Tokyo 23 and entails the process from garbage collection to the point where burnable material is turned into electrical energy serving 23 cities in Tokyo while also running the plant itself cost free in terms of electricity and heat.


“Right now we don’t have any complaints regarding gas or waste water from the facility,” Nikaido said. “We don’t have any problems because we are almost perfectly purifying the waste water and gas from the cans. The only problem is the existence of this big facility in the city area, because some people think it is not beautiful enough to be in the area. So the only side effect is the beauty of the facility.”


However, the construction of the waterfront building, kilometers away from the location of the 2020 Summer Olympics village, is of such that it gives the image of a float and could be considered attractive to many, especially tourists.


“To harmonise the waterfront landscape, the building is designed to give the image of a float,” Nikaido explained. “The sharp-edged triangle stick will be the landmark of Tokyo waterfront area, ” he said pointing to a miniature display of the building enclosed in a glass casing in the reception area.


Nikaido said that although the plant is located in a central location in the city, it is scentless.


An approximate five per cent of waste is transferred to the Ariake incineration plant through the pneumatic piping system which goes underground and automatically conveys refuse stored in users facilities. This works as a vacuum cleaner where the user’s facility corresponds to the inlet, the pipeline to the hose, and the collection plant to the cleaner body. This system covers the entire town area. Refuse is stored in the user’s facilities placed in individual buildings and then collected through the pipelines to the collection plant with a stream of air generated by blowers installed in the collection plant and finally stored in a refuse bunker.


Large size waste is picked up at collection sites and delivered to the processing plant by packer vehicles with compression functions.


There are no garbage bins seen anywhere on the streets or at household gates in Tokyo as in Jamaica.


In waste disposal, incineration plays a vital role.


“Waste is burnt in the incineration plant and becomes ash of the volume of about one twentieth of what it was before,” Nikaido explained during a tour of the facility. “This process contributes to prolong the limit of the disposal sites. Ariake incineration plant is making every effort to prevent pollution. It also utilises the heat energy produced by the incinerators for generating electric power, supplying steam and hot water to the waterfront area and neighbouring public facilities,” he stated.


The waste to energy plant which was completed in 1994 has a site area of approximately 24,000 square metres, building area of approximately 11, 600 square metres and a construction cost of an approximate 41.7 billion yen.


It boasts top-of-the-line equipment with the incinerator being one of continuous combustion stoker types and the pollution control is exhaust gas treatment equipment with filtering reactor, dehydrochlorination equipment and waste water treatment. It utilises a heat/hot water supplying system and a steam turbine generator.


“The waste collection system collects waste through vacuum pipeline in waterfront areas,” Nikaido said.


Once the garbage is taken to the plant it is separated into four sections — recyclable, combustible, large-sized waste and incombustible waste.


The recyclable is sent straight to the recyclable area where it is then reused, while the combustible is sent to the incinerator plant, then to the ash melting facility after which the remains is taken to a landfill site.


Large-size waste is taken through a pulverization processing plant and based on the type of material, if combustible, it will qualify for the incinerator and go through the slag then taken to the landfill site.


Incombustible waste will go through the incombustible processing centre while some will go through the recovery of ferrous material/aluminum before finding its way into the landfill in it new form.


Energy from the waste is generated and streamlined into households cutting down the electricity bills by more than half of what it once was.


The plant boasts a central control room where the processes are monitored via a computerised system.


But without the practice of the 3Rs, Nikaido said not one of this would be possible.


“You have to reduce what eventually turns into waste by buying only what is needed,” he said. “Reusing what can be such as bottles, containers etc instead of throwing them away, and recycle by turning into resource what has been used by making them into crafts, etc.”


Today, the Ariake Incineration Plant has more than 10,000 visitors per year, with more than 90 per cent being school children from 10 years old.


“Japanese National Education law stipulates that every student has to visit a facility such as waste treatment centre or water treatment centre,” Nikaido said. “Education has to begin from early.”


Source: Jamaica Observer


Category/ies:Jamaica News, News.
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