Practicing the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) is essential to creating a resource-saving society. The most important of these is controlling the generation of waste.
In addition to limiting emissions by, for example, producing zero emissions at production plants (defined as a final disposal rate of less than 0.1%) and reducing the amount of soil excavated during gas pipeline construction, Tokyo Gas Group practices the 3Rs at every stage of its business activities, including reusing gas meters and recycling used gas pipes and gas appliances, in order to recycle and reuse waste and other resources.
Tokyo Gas Group is working to achieve zero waste emissions (defined as a final disposal rate of less than 0.1%) at not only its city gas production facilities, but also at power plants, gas appliance factories, district heating and cooling centers, and plants making products such as systems that use the cold energy of LNG. In fiscal 2016, total waste emissions came to 809 tons, the amount disposed of by landfill was 2 tons, and the final disposal rate was 0.3%.*
*Excluding asbestos and other non-recyclable industrial waste.
The Group generates waste (mostly construction rubble and sludge, scrap metal, and wood chips) as a result of activities performed under direct contract for gas utilities (such as the construction of gas facilities), gas pipeline work at customers’ sites, installation of air conditioning, space heating, and water heating systems, and home improvement work. In fiscal 2016 we generated 139,856 tons of waste, 98% of which was recycled.
Roads must be dug up when gas pipelines are laid, producing emissions of excavated (residual) soil and asphalt concrete lumps. The Group takes a "3R" approach (reuse, reduce, and recycle) to decreasing the amount of excavated soil by, for example, shallow-laying of pipes in narrow trenches and use of non-open-cut construction methods, as well as by reburying excavated soil and making increased use of improved soil and recycled road surface materials. When it is necessary to re-excavate the same location, we are using a new kind of temporary backfill called "Eco-balls," and wider use is being made of other newly developed materials and construction methods as well. In fiscal 2016, 0.64 million tons of excavated soil was disposed of, which is 16.5% of the 3.88 million tons (estimated baseline disposal) that would have had to be disposed of had conventional methods been used. As a result, our use of trucks to transport excavated soil was also reduced, cutting CO2 and NOx emissions.
Increased recycling of used gas pipes removed when pipes were replaced enabled us to once again achieve a 100% recycling rate in fiscal 2015. We established a system for recycling polyethylene (PE) pipe* scrap and excavated sections of pipes in fiscal 1994, and in fiscal 2016 recycled a total of 260 tons as raw materials for use in the gas business and for making stationery. In the gas business, these materials are used to make items such as labels for customers' gas meters explaining how to restart the meters after an emergency. Regarding steel and cast-iron pipes, we collected a total of 6,126 tons in fiscal 2016, and the entire amount was recycled as raw materials for use by electric furnace manufacturers and other users.*PE gas pipes are highly earthquake and corrosion resistant, and were rapidly adopted following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
Tokyo Gas has led the gas industry, and other industries, in its reuse of gas meters ever since it first began installing them.
The gas meters installed at customers' sites are replaced before their certified life (normally 10 years) expires. We collect the removed meters, replace all expendable parts, and recertify them, allowing them to be used for three cycles (30 years) in total. All replaceable parts have been assessed for durability and design changes made where necessary, with the result that now almost all reusable parts are reused. In fiscal 2016, 388 thousand (34%) of the 1,139 thousand meters newly installed were reused, enabling us to reduce the amount of waste generated by 1,614 tons.
Meters that have completed three cycles are recycled through our own recycling channels and used as material for new products by electric furnace manufacturers and other companies.
Tokyo Gas Groups' offices and other facilities produce all kinds of industrial waste, including waste plastic from containers and packaging and waste generated in the course of developing technologies, providing education and practical training, and performing maintenance work at customers' sites. The Group strictly sorts and stores waste, which it then ensures is recycled or properly disposed of. In fiscal 2016, our offices and other facilities produced a total of 3,565 tons of industrial waste (87% of which was recycled). We fell short of the target set in our Resource Recycling Guidelines (revised in fiscal 2014), and we will redouble our recycling efforts to meet this goal.
Our offices are working to reduce their consumption of copy paper, cut emissions of waste paper, and recycle more used paper. Following the attainment of a 95% waste paper recycling rate by the Group as a whole in fiscal 2013, our Environmental Protection Guidelines were revised in fiscal 2014 to expand the scope of waste management to cover general waste (such as food waste) so as to increase our rate of recycling of waste other than waste paper. As a result, the Group as a whole produced only 2,931 tons of general waste in fiscal 2016, meeting its target with a recycling rate of 76%.
■Paper Recycling by Tokyo Gas
In fiscal 2003, Tokyo Gas launched a program to collect old documents and waste paper and have them turned into recycled paper for our own use. In fiscal 2016, we purchased 339 tons of paper that had been recycled in this way, and used it to produce sales pamphlets, leaflets, calendars, reports, and other literature. Unlike ordinary recycled paper, the paper that we use —which we call "Tokyo Gas Recycled Paper"— is made from materials both provided (i.e. waste generated) and then purchased back by us. This independent program observes green purchasing practices and is designed to promote the "greening" of the paper product chain. We work with a wide range of companies at every stage of the paper product lifecycle, including waste paper haulers, waste paper wholesalers, paper wholesalers, and paper manufacturers at the waste paper distribution through to the recycled paper production stages, and production companies and printing firms at the printing stage. Internally as well, all of our employees carefully separate waste to make it possible for us to provide high-quality waste paper for recycling.
Tokyo Gas Recycled Paper is certified to be made from legally sourced lumber that has been traced from the felling stage.
In the case of printed materials that cannot be made from Tokyo Gas Recycled Paper, we support the use of sustainable forest resources by recommending the use of FSC-certified paper in order to ensure that it has been sourced in an environmentally friendly manner (by, for example, paying attention to forest conservation).
How Tokyo Gas Waste Paper is Recycled
We promote the reduction, reuse, and recycling of materials at customers' sites in a variety of ways. These include reducing waste emissions by making our products more environmentally friendly from the design stage, and collecting used appliances and parts via our own collection channels.
Since August 1994, Tokyo Gas has operated its own waste collection and recycling system, called the Saving & Recycling Innovative Model System (SRIMS). This system enables us to reduce the impact on the environment and cut costs by collecting waste at the same time we deliver gas appliances, parts, and piping materials to partner companies. Under SRIMS, we are working to collect used gas appliances and waste materials produced when equipment is replaced or gas installation or renovation work is carried out at customers' sites.
In fiscal 2016, we collected 8,296 tons of waste and recycled 7,883 tons.
■Action under the Act on Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances
|Air conditioners||Clothes dryers|
|Number received at designated collection points||Number||13,309||6,896|
|Number transported to processing plants||Number||13,338||6,879|
|Weight undergoing recycling||Tons||528||274|
|Weight post recycling||Tons||478||241|
In order to reduce emissions of waste containers and packaging at customers' sites, we meticulously collect unwanted containers and packaging generated when gas appliances are sold and installed by our partners.
Containers and packaging collected from customers' sites are recycled mainly via SRIMS. In fiscal 2016, approximately 636 tons of corrugated cardboard and 14 tons of expanded polystyrene were collected and recycled in their entirety. We are also reducing the quantity of containers and packaging used for gas appliances in several ways. These include reducing the amount of cushioning required by redesigning corrugated cardboard packaging, using less corrugated cardboard by employing shrink wrap packaging, and using returnable packaging (tops and bottoms that can be collected and reused).