Special Story

Achieving Zero Emissions throughout the Oyama Industrial Park Komatsu's Oyama Plant Cooperates by Disclosing Its Know-how

Undertaking Industrial Waste Disposal by the Entire Industrial Park

The Oyama Industrial Park, located in the southeastern part of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, has 15 manufacturers in operation in industries such as machinery, steel, and chemicals. Having attained "zero emissions," in which all factories within the park reuse their waste materials as resources and minimize their final disposal volume, the industrial park has attracted attention from the industrial world and local government.

This project to achieve zero emissions throughout the entire industrial park started in 2003. By that time, within the park Komatsu's Oyama Plant and Komatsu Forklift Co., Ltd.'s (now Komatsu Utility Co., Ltd.'s) Tochigi Plant had already achieved zero emissions. However, in the park as a whole, like other industrial parks in Japan, a large amount of industrial waste was being disposed of rather than reutilized.

Why Zero Emissions?

Before the industrial park could take on the challenge of zero emissions there were numerous hurdles to be overcome. At the launch of the project, for example, companies had a mindset that caused them to ask why they had to introduce zero emissions to their operations when their existing waste disposal methods were going so smoothly.

For that reason, the first step was to get all of the companies in the park to have the same mindset.

Gaining the Understanding of Top Management

To bring all of the park's companies to the same mindset, it was critical to gain the understanding of each company's top management. The project team created various opportunities for awareness-building, such as meetings in which top managers and project heads paired off for consultations and lectures on attaining zero emissions in the park, appealing to the top managers on the basis of the fact that attainment of zero emissions not only contributes to environmental conservation but also reduces waste disposal costs. Through this undertaking, the top managers were able to appreciate the significance of the project, and in addition to announcing a voluntary declaration to undertake zero emissions activities, the manufacturers participated in a zero emissions promotion forum established in cooperation with the prefecture and the city. In this way efforts got on track.

Project members tour a recycled waste-paper processing plant. By observing the effectiveness of using waste as resources, participants are able to deepen their understanding of zero emissions.

Sharing Know-how Attained through the Oyama Plant's Zero Emissions Activities

Know-how accumulated by the Komatsu Oyama Plant was applied to the zero emissions routines underway at other companies.

The disclosure of one company's environmental conservation activities contributes to the local society overall-based on this philosophy, the Oyama Plant released to other companies its know-how for attaining zero emissions, including education in waste disposal and separation and collection methods. Through this, understanding by the project heads was deepened further. What's more, by examining the practical implications of the know-how Komatsu disclosed, it was possible to have discussions at forum meetings on various waste disposal issues.

Requesting Joint Research with a Local College of Technology on Waste that is Difficult to Recycle

Among various issues, it was necessary to develop technologies to deal with waste that is difficult to recycle, such as ballasts, cured coatings, thermal insulating materials, and paints containing lead, which constituted an issue that the industrial park could not solve on its own. The park asked the Oyama National College of Technology, which is in the vicinity, to undertake joint research aimed at tackling this problem through academic-industrial cooperation. While the research efforts at the Oyama National College of Technology are still underway, a certain amount of success has already been achieved, such as the withdrawal of resin components from ballasts and the extraction of lead from hardened leaded coatings.

The Oyama Industrial Park intends to incorporate research results into the recycling process once they reach the stage of practical application.

Discussions on disposal methods with waste plastic treatment companies

Achieving Zero Emissions in March 2006

In March 2006, about three years after these activities were launched, the Oyama Industrial Park succeeded in attaining zero emissions. Manufacturers within the park worked in collaboration, further propelled by academic-industrial-government collaboration, to overcome differences in size and operations to achieve waste reductions. The following can be considered the effects of this approach:

  • (1) Information on waste and recycling efforts within the industrial park can now be shared.
  • (2) Waste generated at a single company in a volume too low for processing can be combined with waste from others in the park to reach a volume that enables it to be processed as recyclable resources.
  • (3) Through shared disposal, efficiency can be increased and disposal costs that would overburden a single company can be reduced.
  • (4) Contracting with illegal waste disposal agents, illegal dumping of wastes, and illegal processing of wastes can be avoided.
  • (5) Recycling-related information can be exchanged with recycling companies within the prefecture.
  • (6) Companies within the park can buy and sell from each other materials that can be used as recyclable resources.

Providing Know-how to Industrial Parks around Japan

The efforts towards zero emissions undertaken by the Oyama Industrial Park have been featured both in newspapers and on television. In addition, groups of observers from Oyama Industrial Park No. 2, Haga Industrial Park, and other locations have visited the park to learn about its zero emissions activities.

The Oyama Industrial Park will continue to provide various types of information related to zero emissions to industrial parks around Japan.

Please refer here for further information.

Zero Emissions Efforts at the Komatsu Group

In 1994, United Nations University proposed a vision of zero emissions under which society as a whole would work towards the generation of zero waste in order to achieve a resource-recycling society. Komatsu, receptive to this idea, independently defined zero emissions as "promoting the recycling of industrial waste generated within the company to reduce the amount of landfilled and simple-incineration waste to less than 1% of the total waste generated." Komatsu has not only undertaken activities to reduce its volume of generated waste but also recycled its waste.

Zero Emissions Activities

September 1999 Launches efforts towards zero emissions
November 2000 The Oyama Plant becomes the first manufacturer of construction equipment in Japan to attain zero emissions
March 2002 All of Komatsu Ltd.'s manufacturing facilities attain zero emissions
March 2006 All Japanese manufacturing facilities in the Komatsu Group attain zero emissions

Messages from Project Heads for Zero Emissions Efforts

Here are messages from the project heads for zero emissions efforts at the Oyama Industrial Park.

  • Yasuo Sakamaki (General Manager, General Affairs Dept., Kanto Noki Co., Ltd.)

    I feel that our zero emissions activities changed my thinking that it's enough simply to create a good product. The manufacturing of products naturally generates waste. Before our zero emissions activities, my awareness was only of the fact that someone had been disposing of that waste. But now, I am in a position in which it is I myself who separates the waste by type and utilizes it as resources. Amid recent calls telling us of the depletion of natural resources, I feel that our company has been able to participate in activities that are very meaningful as education for our employees.

  • Yasuyuki Hamano (Technological Affairs Section, Yorozu Tochigi Corporation)

    The hardest part about zero emissions was making sure that the way to separate waste by type was mastered by the employees. For this reason, we presented the information using not only words but also photographs and other visual means. I believe that it is important to keep up steady efforts like this on a day-to-day basis, even now that we have achieved zero emissions. In addition, since zero emissions affects the entire supply chain, I very much hope to contact our suppliers and expand the framework of our activities.

  • Koji Saito (Doctor of Science, Professor of Materials Chemistry and Bioengineering, Oyama National College of Technology)

    The students we teach are the engineers of the future. Once they graduate and enter a company, they will come face to face with the issue of the environment. In that regard, this project has provided an excellent stimulus to the students who participated. Their awareness of the environment has increased and it has been a powerful influence on other students as well. In order to keep providing this kind of superb motivation to students, I intend to continue into the future my research activities on environment-related topics.

  • Shinichi Kobayashi (Manager of the Environment Group, General Affairs Dept., Oyama Plant, Komatsu Ltd.)

    At the beginning, I was concerned about whether zero emissions efforts would really take root as an activity for the entire industrial park to participate in, because they are so difficult to undertake. However, engaging in these activities fostered teamwork in the industrial park as a whole. Also, I feel strongly that with time this project led to tremendous results as it expanded through the combined efforts of academia, industry, and government. In the future, I want all member companies to work together to support zero emissions at industrial parks in our prefecture and beyond.