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Data Entry: September 2011
Name of recycling technology Recycling of Waste Wood and Waste Plastics into Recycled Plywood 
Name of recycler Tokyo Mokkosho Co., Ltd.
Location Chiba Prefecture 
Name of eco industrial park -
Receiving waste materials for recycling - Waste wood (used concrete forms, pallets, recycled plywood, etc.)
- Used recycled plywood
- Waste plastics (caps for PET bottles, flexible containers, packing sheet, roll film, non-woven fabric, plastic containers/tanks/boxes, bumpers, plastic runners, plastic rope/wire/strands, etc.)
Recycled products/recovered materials Recycled plywood (for concrete forms, etc.)

 
Capacity of recycling plant Waste wood: 4,600 t/year
Waste plastics: 6,900 t/year
Area of recycling plant 9,900 m2
Number of employees in recycling plant 25
Start of recycling operation August 2004
Technical description
  • Produces recycled plywood from waste wood crushed into wood chips and fibers, plus waste plastics crushed into plastic flakes or melted and drawn into plastic fibers.





Recycling process

The recycling process comprises the following key steps.

  • Crushing of waste wood and used recycled plywood:
    - Clamps, bolts, chains, etc. are removed from waste wood.
    - The waste wood or used recycled plywood is crushed into wood chips 30 to 50 mm in size.
    - Through magnetic separation and metal detection steps, nails, staples, stainless steel, aluminum foil and other foreign matter are removed.
    - Wood chips are further crushed into smaller chips.
    - Used recycled plywood crushed into wood chips is processed by a defibrator into wood fibers.
  • Crushing of waste plastics and conversion into fibers:
    - Foreign matter is manually removed from waste plastics.
    - Soft waste plastics (polypropylene [PP]) and hard waste plastics are respectively crushed into plastic flakes some 3 to 8 mm in size. In this step, aluminum and ferrous materials are removed.
    - Soft plastic flakes are melted and processed into polypropylene fibers.
  • Production of recycled plywood:
    - The center layer of plywood is formed from a mixture of wood chips and plastic flakes.
    - The surface layers of plywood, which cover the center layer, are formed from a mixture of wood fibers originating from recycled plywood and plastic fibers.
    - The mixture of wood material and plastics is heated and pressurized to form plywood (by hot pressing forming).
    - The formed plywood is cooled and cut to specified sizes.


Waste material and recycled product flowchart
Background of starting recycling business and participating in eco-town program
  • The company used to manufacture and sell concrete forms and process used concrete forms into wood chips.
    - Originally concrete forms were produced and sold.
    - In 1992, the company entered the business of crushing and processing used concrete forms into wood chips and selling the material to a plant for producing particle boards.
  • High level of interest in the environment by the top management
    - Most wood forms used for concrete work are made from little-gnarled tropical timber. However, events such as the 1992 Earth Summit raised awareness that deforestation is a major environmental problem.
    - After being reused six or seven times, wood forms for concrete work are generally landfilled or incinerated. Previously, they were often illegally burned or dumped.
    - With a strong interest in the environment, the company's president was looking for ways to recycle used concrete forms to conserve tropical forests and recycle resources in society.
  • Waste plastics produced in the surrounding areas
    - There are many chemical plants that have been operating for many years near the present plant, producing huge amounts of waste plastics.
  • Access to recycling technologies
    - At an environmental exhibition, a company was met which had recycling technologies and which suggested participation in the eco-town program in Chiba Prefecture.
Fund procurement The initial project cost was JPY2.5 billion, 30% of which was subsidized by the national government and 1% by Chiba Prefectural Government. The company raised the remaining amount.
Major success factors
  • Top management's leadership
    - The president showed strong leadership.
  • Use of established technology
    - The company employed an already established and patented recycling technology.
  • Sale of recycled products and procurement of materials for recycling
    - Using recycled plywood products, concrete forms are produced and sold through concrete form distribution channels.
    - The company collects used concrete forms and waste wood as materials for recycling through concrete form distribution channels. Disposal fees are received when waste wood is collected.
    - When the company sells concrete forms made of recycled plywood and collects them after use, it can reuse the used recycled plywood again for producing recycled plywood, thereby closing the loop of using resources.
Issues and Challenges
  • Inclusion of foreign matter in waste wood and plastics
    - Clamps, bolts, chains and the like in waste wood can damage the crushers, so they must be removed in advance.
    - Foreign matter is also present in waste plastics and is removed manually before crushing.
  • Inclusion of PVC plastics in waste plastics
    - At some construction sites, concrete forms are cut and burned. PVC plastics present in waste plastics can produce dioxin when a concrete form made of recycled plywood is burned at a construction site. Consequently, recycled waste plastics must contain no PVC plastics.
    - The company therefore collects PVC-free waste plastics as materials for recycling.
  • Securing waste plastics
    - When the company began this recycling project, it received disposal fees for collecting waste plastics, but as waste plastics are now exported to China and other countries, the amount available in Japan has decreased. As a result, it needs to pay to collect waste plastics.
    - To procure waste plastics (to be recycled), the company cooperates with various organizations such as welfare organizations and NPOs and purchases PET bottle caps from them. PET bottle caps are made from PP, containing no PVC and usable as a material for the surface layer of recycled plywood.
  • Use of recycled products
    - With plastics accounting for 60% of its composition, recycled plywood is characteristically heavier, easier to bend, and has higher thermal expansion than general plywood. Consequently, its use for concrete forms will not grow easily.
    - Other features of recycled plywood include lower water absorption and greater resistance to rotting and high-pressure washing than general plywood. To use these characteristics, the company is promoting the application of recycled plywood to cattle house walls and partitions.
    - Additionally, the company manufactures and sells furniture and houseware made from recycled plywood and advertises them emphasizing that they are recycled products.

  • Certification/commendation by public organizations
    - In 2006, its recycled plywood production plant achieved Environmental Management System (ISO 14001) certification.
    - In 2007, its recycling business was commended by the 3R Promotion Council of Japan.
    - In 2008, the recycled plywood achieved Japan Housing and Wood Technology Center's certification for excellent wood-based building materials.
Future prospects
  • The company strives to protect forest resources for conservation of the global environment. Its environmental policy in business is to boost awareness of the need to reduce waste and continue recycling activities for building a resource-recycling society.
  • To preserve tropical forests, the company plants trees in Malaysia, Myanmar and Indonesia.
  • For a private enterprise to continue recycling, local government support is vital both during and after the commencement of the project (for example, authorization as recycled products by the local government and designation as priority materials for use in public construction work).
Remarks The manufacture of recycled plywood was suspended in 2011 due to insufficient profitability.

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