TOKYO -- A Japanese green solutions company is working to forge business opportunities through creating a low carbon recycling society in Palau, the western Pacific island nation recently visited by Japan's emperor and empress.
"Sorting waste can generate electricity to power a fan like this," said an official from Amita Institute for Sustainable Economies. The man held a small electric fan as he stood in front of locals in Koror, the biggest city in Palau. He then distributed buckets and bags among the residents and demonstrated how to divide waste.
The institute, a unit of Kyoto-based Amita Holdings, is carrying out the grass-roots educational program as part of a research project launched last year to examine the new concept of waste separation in the island nation.
Amita Institute plans to create a recycling society in Koror as well as the nation's other islands through a waste sorting system aimed at reusing recyclable refuse such as plastics for solid fuels as well as using kitchen garbage together with sewage sludge for biogas and liquid fertilizers.
The project envisions establishing the use of recycled materials such as solid fuel to power air conditioners and liquid fertilizer to grow grass-like plants used for biofuel.
Amita Institute's work in Palau is part of a search for ways to introduce Japan's recycling system, including refined waste separation, into compact societies living in Pacific island nations, said Hiroyuki Sato, CEO of Amita Institute.
The institute thus intends to introduce its recycling know-how to help the community, rather than simply building recycling facilities.
As Palau is made up of small islands, Amita sees possibilities not only to introduce advanced technologies from Japan, but also to establish a social system focused on separating waste for reuse. The project is expected to pave the way for the institute's exploitation of markets in developing economies.
Given that competition in the area of recycling technology is expected to increase, Amita is trying to develop a business model in Palau which will help it strengthen the competitiveness of its systems.
Amita Holdings has already started to change the project into a commercial one in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce. In fiscal 2014, it built an experimental waste recycling facility with support from Japan's Ministry of the Environment.
The company plans to start operating a full-scale facility in 2018 if the current project goes smoothly.
Concern about environmental problems is growing in Palau. Among the concerns is sludge leaking from sewage processing facilities and the overabundance of landfill waste, according to Amita Holdings.
If a recycling system is established, Palau will be able to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Amita Holdings estimates that Palau buries roughly 16 tons of waste and 3 tons of dehydrated sewage every day. The company plans to reuse about 50% of it by building a recycling plant in Koror, where the nation's economic and administrative functions are concentrated. Construction of the necessary facilities will be carried out with cooperation from other companies.
While Amita Holdings will work out the details of the plant, it projects the facility will cost Palau more than 400 million yen ($3.29 million) when the mechanism begins operating.