Currently in Japan, roughly two million ton of used textile products are discharged as waste every year. The waste is composed of 1.44 million ton of used clothes and 0.56 million ton of used bed clothes together with interior decoration textiles.
Of the used clothes, 100,000 ton comes from textile businesses (producers and retailers), and 1,340,000 ton comes from general households. Of the latter, only 280,000 ton is being recycled today. Thus, recycling percentage of used clothes remains as low as 19%. The whole rest, 1,160,000 ton of waste textile products, simply goes to incinerators or to landfill sites. The reasons for this low recycling rate are said to be: 1) diversified textile materials, 2) wide variety of clothing products, and 3) difficulty in finding new ways of reuse/recycling.
In June 2010, a venture business Japan Environment Planning CO., LTD (JEPLAN CO., LTD) has started a remarkable recycling campaign named as “Fuku-Fuku Project” in order to collect used clothes from general households and make use of them in an efficient material recycling process.
According to statistics, cotton-made clothes share 50 ~ 60 % among whole clothing products consumed in Japan. Besides, cellulose content of cotton is known to be more than 95 %, which can be used for producing bioethanol. By the way, cellulose content of rice chaff is some 40 %, and that of cedar and hinoki-cedar is 53 %, both of which are much lower than cotton. Therefore it seems to be much more efficient to use cotton for producing bioethenol in stead of using chaff and cedar wood.
Actually JEPLAN CO., LTD conducted already an experimental production of bioethanol from cotton scraps, using a small test plant constructed at Imabari city in Ehime prefecture in 2009. Imabari is the largest towel-producing place in Japan. It was proved that the experiment plant could produce 60 liter of ethanol from 100 kg of cotton scraps. The provided bioethanol is used as fuel of the boiler facility in a towel manufacturing process. Meanwhile, other textile materials such as wool and polyesters were turned into light oil, coke and coke oven gas. Thus, the JEPLAN’s experiment proved that 100 % recycling of most textile products has become possible.
In FY2009, experimentally, 3.2 ton of used clothes in total were collected by the Fuku-Fuku Project. The next year, 2010, the project will collect as much as 50 ton. Further, JEPLAN CO., LTD is inviting many business partners to join into this project so that they may collect 150,000 ton/year of used cloths, and realize 100 % recycling of them.
Fig. Amount of waste textile materials and their reuse/recycle
Fig. Cellulose content of different herbal biomass
Fig. Scheme of Fuku-Fuku Project
1) Website of Japan Environment Planning Co., LTD http://www.ecob100.com/entry/jeplan.html
2) “2006 Survey on Current Status of Recycling of Textile Products in Japan”, issued by SMRJ (Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan)
3) The Sankei
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