News Feature | February 21, 2014

Companies in Japan Are Making Changes To Preserve The Environment

Source: Pharmaceutical Online

By Liisa Vexler

Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and the Kawasaki City Water Department, both based in the Kakegawa province of Japan, have made changes to their processes in order to protect the environment.

Otsuka Pharmaceuticals produces a popular electrolyte drink called Pocari Sweat. The drink is sold in a range of cans and PET bottles, the most widely used being the 500 mL PET bottle.

The company has developed a new eco-bottle that weighs only 18 g. This is 30% less than conventional bottles. The reduction of 9 g has meant an annual savings of about 2,700 tons of PET resin. This equates to about 4,000 KL liters of crude oil, roughly equivalent to the amount of gasoline needed for a vehicle with fuel consumption of 10 km/L to circle the globe 950 times. The reduced weight has also meant a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 8,300 tons per year.

Plant manager Nagao explained how Otsuka was the first Japanese company to install a sterile bottling system that uses positive pressure. Because the system allows bottles to be sterilized at room temperature, thinner, lighter bottles can be used. Another advantage of the eco-bottles is that they can be flattened easily for recycling.

The Kawasaki City Water Department treats wastewater from about 32 million people in Kanagawa prefecture, located on Tokyo Bay. The wastewater contains high levels of the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen, which can cause algae blooms such as the red tides that sometimes occur in Tokyo Bay. To remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, the Iriezaki Wastewater Treatment Center has installed an advanced treatment system using Bio-Tubes developed by JFE Engineering. The Bio-Tubes use immobilized microorganisms to remove contaminants in an "anaerobic-anoxic-aerobic process."

The manager of JFE Engineering, Gen Takahashi, expressed the company's belief that the bio-tubes can be adapted for advanced sewage treatment in many Southeast Asian countries.