Kao is striving to recycle resources, including water, at all its production sites, and is developing technology to reuse and recycle wastewater to achieve zero waste.
The product manufacturing process uses large amounts of water. Kao is trying to use water at its plants as effectively as possible, and cleans wastewater so that it conforms to environmental standards when returned to oceans and rivers.
To achieve this, Kao is pursuing research into a wide range of wastewater treatment technologies. Recently, the Industrial Technology Center of Wakayama Prefecture developed food production wastewater treatment technology that utilizes the food chain. Through collaborative research, we are looking into applying the same technology in treating chemical wastewater.
In order to break down the organic matter in wastewater, microbes are used to purify the water. During the purification process, however, microbes tend to proliferate, resulting in the production of sludge.
To combat this, we have started installing into the wastewater sheets made from pile fabric, a specialty of Wakayama Prefecture, to act as a bed for sludge worms. These worms help to break down the microbes present in the water, thus dramatically reducing sludge production.
Researcher installing a sludge worm bed of pile fabric into a test plant
During an experiment conducted at test plant in 2016 using the Wakayama Plant wastewater, it was found that this technology reduces sludge production by 80 percent.
Start of an experiment at an actual wastewater treatment facility
Large-scale introduction of this technology will not only reduce final waste volume, but also reduce the cost of wastewater treatment.
Kao is continuing research with the goal of using this technology at plants both inside and outside Japan.
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