AR-News: (Japan) Biomass plant to recycle zoo's animal waste now a dung deal

Animalara2003 at Animalara2003 at
Tue Nov 11 20:03:13 EST 2003

Staff writer

Tama Zoological Park in the western Tokyo suburb of Hino boasts 420 animals 
representing 59 species, including elephants, lions and giraffes, and cleaning 
up after them is a tall, costly order. 

Tama Zoological Park must dispose of some 1,060 tons of animal droppings a 
year, including those of its elephants.
Tama Zoo's animals together generate some 1,060 tons of droppings annually, 
which cost 30 million yen to dispose of. 
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which runs the zoo, recently adopted a 
plan to recycle the dung in the form of biomass energy to cut disposal costs and 
save on the use of fossil fuels. 
The plan calls for the animal droppings to be fermented to produce biogas -- 
methane and carbon dioxide -- for use as fuel. 
Tateki Masui, facility section chief of the metropolitan government's 
construction bureau, said using biomass fuel from animal dung instead of fossil fuels 
can help fight global warming. 
"If everything goes well, what we have spent money to dispose of will produce 
gas and conserve fossil fuels," Masui said. "We hope we can kill two birds 
with one stone." 
The project was the brainchild of private-sector companies. 
The metropolitan government officially invited private-sector bids in July 
for turning dung into energy, and received proposals from 21 companies, Masui 
The winner was Kyodoshoji Corp., a beer brewer and distributor of organic 
vegetables in Saitama Prefecture. 
The metropolitan government and the company will research how to use the 
waste, then start producing biogas in an experimental processing plant in 2005, 
paving the way for Tama Zoological Park to become Japan's first zoo to recycle 
animal dung as biomass energy, Masui said. 
Shigeharu Asagiri, vice president of Kyodoshoji Corp., said the company 
proposed using the biogas not only to fuel the processing plant but also the "lion 
buses" -- the vehicles that allow visitors to get up close to lions roaming in 
the zoo's wildlife park. 
He said the project can also provide kids with environmental education. 
"If we tell children visiting the zoo that the animals make the buses run, 
they will want an explanation, and it will be easy to teach them about biomass 
energy," he said. 
Besides methane, the plant will turn out fertilizer from the liquid waste 
that remains after fermentation, he said. 
If the fertilizer is used at farms to raise vegetables fed to the zoo's 
animals, the recycling project will have come full circle, Asagiri said. 
Kyodoshoji has spent eight years developing biomass energy technology, 
studying other companies that make biogas plants and consulting a professor in 
Germany, where recycling of organic waste into energy is widespread, according to 
Last year, the company constructed an experimental biogas plant at its 
development center in Saitama, fermenting organic waste such as discarded vegetables 
to generate gas, he explained. 
Hiroshima University professor Naomichi Nishio, who chaired the metropolitan 
government's biomass project selection committee, said the technology for 
producing methane from organic waste has reached the practical stage. 
For example, most breweries in Japan have been recycling beer production 
waste, and dairy farms in Hokkaido have biogas plants to recycle cow dung, he 
One problem has been what to do with the liquid waste left over when 
producing methane from organic waste, Nishio said. 
Although the liquid waste can be used as fertilizer, it is often difficult to 
find farms willing to use it. 
But Kyodoshoji Corp. has cleared this hurdle. The vegetable distributor has 
contracted with farms that will use the waste as fertilizer, he said. 
Biomass energy plants are also expensive to operate, but zoos and the 
nation's livestock industry can cut the cost for disposing of dung by recycling the 
waste, Nishio said. 
"I believe there are great possibilities, and thus the use of biomass energy 
will spread," he said. 
The Japan Times: Nov. 12, 2003
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"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot 
upon a worm." - Cowper
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