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[Message] Why was “J-EPS,” the leader in plastic recycling, successful?

Raita Honbori

Representative of Honbori Engineer OfficeProfessional Engineer (Sanitary Engineering Department, Biotechnology Department)Ministry of the Environment Environmental Counselor (business sector)Occupational Health Consultant (Occupational Health Engineering Division)Pana Chemical Co., Ltd. Technical AdvisorGeneral Incorporated Association Resource Plastics Association Director (Technical)

In the 150 years since the emergence of a “new material” called plastic in the 19th century, human lifestyles have changed dramatically. We are surrounded by plastic products, and without plastics, we cannot hope for the development of humankind. It can be said that plastic is a “miracle material” that has brought tremendous blessings in a short period of time in human history.

However, in recent years, environmental pollution such as ecosystem destruction due to plastic leaking into the natural environment such as rivers and oceans has become more serious, and social scrutiny of plastics is becoming more severe. In addition, changes in the international plastic waste logistics environment triggered by China's import restrictions, which have swallowed up most of the world's plastic waste, will begin in January 2021. We are entering a new phase with the revised Basel Convention.

Japan's plastics industry took off in earnest in the 1950s, and along with the development of the plastics industry in the 1960s, the emergence of the plastic recycling business was seen. Various attempts have been made to commercialize plastic recycling, and numerous technologies have been introduced to the market, but many have stalled and disappeared in secret. Among them, Japan's "Expanded polystyrene (EPS) material recycling system (J-EPS)" is widely recognized in the market as one of the few successful examples of plastic recycling, and is still running as a top runner in material recycling. continue. So why was J-EPS so successful?

In order for plastic material recycling to become a sustainable business, it is essential to satisfy both "economic rationality" and "technical validity".

Economic rationality" is based on "a system in which the distribution (commercial transaction) of processed materials is carried out continuously based on economically rational judgments", and subsidies and subsidies A basic principle to maintain the loop of venous logistics through “fair trading in the market (economic activities based on the balance of supply and demand)” instead of “forcibly turning” the loop of resource circulation by continuing to depend on it. is. Therefore, in order to sustainably operate plastic material recycling, it is necessary to conduct stable transactions of processed plastic waste and recycled plastic raw materials, and one of the requirements for this transaction is "quality." .

J-EPS is the first business model that focuses on the "quality" of this material recycling, and over the past several decades, we have established an economic rationality based on quality, which has enabled us to expand the circle of international resource recycling. has remained stable. Polystyrene ingots (PS ingots) "manufactured" from waste Styrofoam are now being exported not only to Asia but also to Europe and North America, which are far away from Japan. I have.

The quality of this plastic material recycling is created by the "people" engaged in the processing work and the "technology (processing technology and processing equipment)" that people use. The ideal form of plastic recycling is one in which processing technology and processing equipment support human superior abilities. ) will be promoted.

This matching of people and technology is the "technical adequacy", which is an essential requirement along with "economic rationality". With J-EPS, we have a high level of technical expertise in dealing with the technical issues of how to defoam and reduce the volume of polystyrene (PS) foam-molded material called expanded polystyrene (PS) and mold it into a shape (ingot) suitable for recycling. A specialized manufacturer that possesses the technology has developed technology and equipment through friendly rivalry with a specialized trading company that handles the business of trading PS ingots. Rather than “technology first,” we have accumulated “steady challenges” over a long period of time, in which the trading company picks up the needs and opinions of the sites that actually handle the processing work, and the manufacturer creates the technical specifications that are truly necessary. It is.

It can be said that J-EPS is supported by the technologies created together by three parties: a "disposal company responsible for processing," a "specialized trading company responsible for logistics," and a "manufacturer responsible for technology." And this challenge continues to this day. In other words, in order to satisfy "technical adequacy", it is necessary to create processed products with a level of quality that can be offered for trading based on economic rationality, rather than "simply capable of processing". It can be said that it is essential to possess "ability".

In addition to processing capacity, there are also systems that allow workers to work in a safe and hygienic environment (occupational safety and health), pollution of the surrounding environment, and waste of input resources such as energy. It is also an important management item to satisfy a mechanism (environmental harmony) that does not cause The Styrofoam volume reduction equipment, which is responsible for J-EPS, has fully responded to these issues due to its long history of development, and has made far more technological progress than other plastic recycling equipment. I can assure you that there is.As I have discussed so far, J-EPS has been able to continue running as a top runner in plastic material recycling for several decades because it satisfies both "economic rationality" and "technical adequacy." It was.

The environment surrounding plastic recycling continues to change dramatically, and in order to overcome this turbulent change, it is necessary to "improve the quality of processed materials" by matching "people" and "technology" established by J-EPS. is the key. An improvement in quality will increase the transaction value of the processed material in the market, and as a result, it will lead to satisfying economic validity.

J-EPS is a comprehensive system system related to plastic material recycling that Japan is proud of. It clearly presents solutions to various issues such as the harmonization of resources and the effective use of resources. In addition, the PS ingots produced are exported to various parts of the world as excellent base materials for recycled polystyrene raw materials, establishing a position as a strategic export resource (chemical products) for Japan.

Our mission is to pass on this excellent recycling system to the next generation and to operate it as the cornerstone of our country's global environmental strategy. The "challenge" continues!

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