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INTERVIEW | Sanyu Plant Service: 'Waste Is the Resource of the Future'

Sanyu Plant Service is taking on the challenge of turning waste into resources by converting coffee grinds from a local Starbucks into feed for dairy cows.



Sanyu Plant Service President and CEO Kazufumi Komatsu engages in the interview with a smile. (©JAPAN Forward by Mika Sugiura)

Read the full interview (Part 1) on Japan 2 Earth - Sanyu Plant Service: 'Waste Is the Resource of the Future'

Coffee grounds that would otherwise be discarded are being fermented and converted into feed for dairy cows. The milk from these cows is then used in beverages. The company that closed the loop in this circular economy venture is Sanyu Plant Service. Headquartered in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Sanyu Plant Service is a leader in the waste industry, known for its technological capabilities in handling difficult-to-dispose industrial waste.

In June 1948, Akira Komatsu founded Sanyu Plant Service (formerly Komatsu Trading Department) after taking over the gas station and construction materials wholesale business run by the previous two generations of his family. Utilizing knowledge of oil gained through the gas station business, he collected waste oil and sold it to public bathhouses, which had been using wood to heat water. This marked the beginning of the company's industrial waste disposal business.

In 1978, the company built its first intermediate treatment facility (now its second plant) in Sagamihara City. It later expanded to seven locations nationwide, including Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Chiba, and secured its own final disposal site in Hokkaido. Sanyu Plant Service built a comprehensive system, incorporating collection, transport, analysis, intermediate treatment, final disposal, and recycling.

Japan 2 Earth and JAPAN Forward Senior Writer Mika Sugiura interviewed President and CEO Kazufumi Komatsu about ongoing and future projects and to learn more about how the company is positioning waste as a resource for the future.

First of two parts. Excerpts follow.


Starting Point: Protecting the Ocean

Tell us about how you got where you are today and your management philosophy.

The Waste Disposal Law was enacted in 1970, making the businesses generating industrial waste responsible for disposal. Until then, waste could simply be dumped into the ocean. It was my father who questioned this practice. He loved fishing and loved the ocean. So, even before the Waste Disposal Law was enacted, he built a land-based treatment facility. That was the start of our business.

We develop technologies based on what is good for society. Tackling difficult challenges forms the basis of our company.

"Waste is a future resource," says Sanyu Plant Service President and CEO Kazufumi Komatsu. (©JAPAN Forward by Mika Sugiura)

Continue reading Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview on Japan 2 Earth.

And find more great articles on the environment and the challenges of achieving the SDGs on our new website Japan 2 Earth (J2E), sparking a transition to the future.


(Sanyu Plant Service is a Logo Partner of JAPAN Forward subsidiary website, Japan 2 Earth.)


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Mika Sugiura

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