Veolia, plastic recycling and the Land of the Rising Sun

Posted on 09 April 2019.

Veolia is strengthening its positions in Asia. Since 2016, the Group has been operating three plastic recycling and recovery sites in Japan, near Tokyo.

It is often said that Japan is full of contradictions. Tradition meets ultra-modernity, and similarly the obsession with packaging coexists with strict rules about sorting household garbage that result in a much higher plastic recycling rate than in Europe (40.8%) or the US (under 10%). You only have to look at the shelves full of individually packaged fresh fruit - sometimes with several layers of plastic – to see that the Japanese over-pack... But they also recycle!
With its Basic Act for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society, passed in 2000, the Land of the Rising Sun is a pioneer in terms of circular resources.

From sorting to compounds

At the Ecos Factory and Green Loop plants in Honjō and Kikugawa near Tokyo, Veolia sorts plastic waste from the surrounding municipalities and makes it into plastic pellets. The goal is to reduce the volume of waste and improve the quality of the processed plastics. Several types of polymers are recycled: LDPE (low density polyethylene), HDPE (high density polyethylene), PS (polystyrene) and PP (polypropylene).
In Ibaraki, the Group uses these granules to make high quality extrusion compounds. They are blended with polymers in small percentages to create a compound that can be used as a raw material to manufacture new products in both the plastics industry and the automotive industry. The plant’s customers include Kojima Industries Corporation, one of Toyota's leading plastic suppliers.
In 2017, Ecos Factory produced 25,590 metric tons and Green Loop 15,410 metric tons of plastic pellets. In addition, 7,800 metric tons of compounds left the Ibaraki plant.

A jumping off point for Asia

All three plants are equipped with optical sorting machines. Thanks to them, Veolia is in a position to meet the needs of Japanese industrial customers by offering them a real alternative to virgin plastic. The country is a pioneer in terms of plastic waste regulation, but the recycled plastics market is fragmented.
Veolia’s goal is to carve out a permanent place for itself on the Japanese market in the sectors of plastic sorting, recycling and recovery, and to use the Land of the Rising Sun as a platform for its operations in Asia (particularly China and South Korea), where the markets are very promising.