7.Creation of a recycling-oriented society with the Kitakyushu Eco-Town
Since 1987, Kitakyushu Eco-Town, Japan's first Eco-Town project, has been growing as a recycling-oriented industrial park on 16.8 hectares in the city's Hibikinada area. The plan has been based on a long-term vision to use a former industrial area. Today, its supporting regulatory regime, organizational structure, and funding arrangements are very well-developed. One future challenge is to develop social assets further in order to have more of a relationship with the lifestyles of the citizens.
Kitakyushu City Eco-Town: "Plan" and "Fund"
The Eco-Town Project was created in fiscal 1997 under Japan's Ministry
of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy,
Trade and Industry, or METI) and the former Ministry of Health and Welfare
(project was later transferred to the present Ministry of Environment).
It was founded on the basic concept of "zero-emissions." In
essence, this concept is about ultimately reducing waste generation to
zero, by taking the "waste" arising in citizen lifestyles and
industrial activities, and utilizing it to the greatest extent possible
as raw materials in other industries. The Eco-Town project has two objectives:
(1) to stimulate local economies by nurturing the growth of environmental
industries that take advantage of the industrial capabilities in each
region, and (2) to create integrated systems that are in harmony with
the environment, and to involve industry, the public sector, and consumers,
with the aim of creating a resource-recycling society in a given region.
Two types of subsidies are provided to Eco-Towns to stimulate environmental
industries: (1) the Eco-Town "Soft" Subsidy (the Resource-Recycling
Regional Stimulation Subsidy for Project Costs), and the Eco-Town "Hard"
Subsidy (and the Resource-Recycling Regional Stimulation Subsidy for Infrastructure
Improvement Costs). The Soft Subsidy will cover up to one-half of certain
costs of Eco-Town projects, including research and studies for the purposes
of developing plans; exhibitions of sample products and technologies;
and information provision to related industries and citizens, etc. The
Hard Subsidy will cover up to one-third or one-half of the costs of improving
recycling facilities, including recycling equipment and manufacturing
plants. To receive a subsidy, a local government must prepare a promotion
plan (Eco-Town Plan), and receive approval from the central government
for an Eco-Town zone. The criteria for obtaining approval include the
following: the plan is original and innovative and will serve as a model
for other regions; the plan is well-developed and implementation appears
to be feasible; and the plan will help to suppress waste generation at
source, reduce of the volume of waste during treatment, and promote the
effective use of resources. To date (spring of 2004) 19 areas in Japan
have been approved by the government as Eco-Town projects.
Social Asset Created Kitakyushu Eco-town
The Eco-Town Project is located on a large area of reclaimed land in Wakamatsu Ward facing Hibikinada, in the northwest part of Kitakyushu. This site was created with the intention of turning it into land for industrial purposes, using dredging sludge from the Kanmon shipping channel and port between Moji Ward and the neighboring city of Shimonoseki, as well as waste that included slag from a cluster of factories near Dokai Bay in Kitakyushu. The original plans were thwarted by structural changes in the heavy manufacturing industries, the backbone of the city's economy, and Kitakyushu was forced to rethink its plans for the use of the site. This site has a number of advantages, including its large area of 2,000 hectares, managed areas that allow low cost and appropriate waste treatment, an abundant supply of water for industrial use, and the potential for low-cost transport using the nearby port. Starting in 1989, Prof. Toshifumi Yata of Kitakyushu University started a study group to look into the uses of the landfill. The group raised the idea that Kitakyushu was a city focused on steel making industries and that those technologies could be exploited in other industries that convert used items back into resources for new uses. That concept of a resource-recycling industry continued as an important theme. At the same time, the national government was becoming active in promoting a recycling-oriented society, and created the Eco-Town concept in 1997. Hearing of that opportunity, the City of Kitakyushu prepared the Kitakyushu Eco-Town Plan, obtained approval from the government, and launched the actual project.
Phase 1 Project, Consisting of 3 Zones
The Kitakyushu Eco-Town is located in the Hibikinada area of Wakamatsu. It is consisted of three zones: the Comprehensive Environmental Industrial Complex, the Practical Research Area, and the Hibiki Recycling Area.
¡¦The Comprehensive Environmental Industrial Complex
The heart of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town is the Comprehensive Environmental Industrial Complex. Here, the goal is to create a cluster of factories in Hibikinada near the shore that recycle waste and to create a recycling system for waste and energy. At present, recycling businesses are up and running in seven areas: PET bottles, office equipment, automobiles, household electrical appliances, fluorescent lights, medical equipment, and mixed construction waste. In each of these categories, efforts are under way to minimize the costs of treatment and make recycling economically viable by collecting waste from a large area and by processing materials on a large scale.A major feature here is that large companies active in Kitakyushu have become major funders. For example, the major funders of the Nishi-Nippon PET-Bottle Recycle Co., include Nippon Steel Corporation and Mitsui & Co., and the major funders of a company known as Recycle Tech include Shinryo and Ricoh Corporation. Indeed, it is not only funds that the parent companies are providing. In many cases the recycling factories are using production plants, technologies and know-how obtained from the parent. For example, the PET bottle plant is using know-how from Nippon Steel Corporation in its plant operating technology. Because of that, it is common to see strong connections with the parent companies, including staff on loan or dispatched for specific tasks. Also, a large part of the Eco-Town site originally belonged to Nippon Steel Corporation. In other words, the recycling businesses in this zone have a strong connection with the existing manufacturing industry of Kitakyushu. Because there are many examples like this, the recycling at this Integrated Environmental Complex is often praised as a symbol of the progressive approach of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town. But recycling businesses are also backed-up by large companies are being planned or implemented in other Eco-Towns in Japan, so it is really the next two zones that demonstrate the qualitative uniqueness of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town.
¡¦The Practical Research Area
The second pillar of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town is the Practical Research Area. This zone is a cluster of research institutes involved in recycling and waste treatment. At present, there are 16 facilities located here, including university research institutes and company testing and demonstration facilities. This zone covers 16.5 hectares (of which 6.5 hectares are currently being used) located a good distance from residential areas, making it possible to conduct research into waste treatment and other fields that may otherwise be constrained by such factors as opposition from local residents. There is no other Eco-Town in Japan that has brought together research facilities on such a large scale as this. Applied research and demonstration testing is very important in order to create new businesses. With the collection of environment-related research facilities here, it is hoped that new environmental businesses will emerge. This area also contains what is known as the Eco-Town Center.It was established in 2001 to manage Eco-Town facilities when they were first set up. Hibikinada Development Co., a public-private partnership, handles management and operations. Its main objectives are to offer a place of environmental learning, to accept study tours, to support research activities, and to exhibit technologies and products. The facilities include seminar rooms for education and exchanges, an exhibition hall to display technologies and products of Eco-Town companies, and rooms for overnight guests. In 2002, the Eco-Town Center Annex was established. Its main objective is to introduce environment-related companies that are not located in Eco-Town, and includes an exhibition hall for that purpose.
¡¦The Hibiki Recycling Area
The third pillar of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town is the Hibiki Recycling Area. Here, the goal is to create a cluster of small and medium-sized waste treatment companies in order to achieve optimal and efficient recycling, and to foster the growth of recycling-related venture companies. It is divided into the "frontier zone" and "automobile recycling zone." The former is where local small- and medium-sized businesses and venture companies are applying innovative and creative technology ideas, and at present four companies have set up here. The latter is where a group of automobile dismantling companies that were scattered around the city have moved together into one place, and are working to create more efficient automobile recycling businesses. There are now seven companies set up here. Whereas the recycling activities of The Comprehensive Environmental Industrial Complex are based on collecting materials from a wide area, the Hibiki Recycling Area differs in that it is seeking recycling that is intimately connected with the local area. Its target is waste that is generated nearby, in a smaller area. Environmental industries are gaining momentum and some appear ready to take-off. High expectations are being placed on the venture companies here, and observers nationwide are watching to see if a recycling park made only of small- and medium-sized companies will succeed.
External Evaluation of Phase 1
Many observers are watching this initiative under way in Kitakyushu City. By way of evaluation, the Kitakyushu Eco-Town was covered in the central government's 1998 Annual White Paper on the Environment presented as a model of an industrial system based on sound material cycles. It received the Fifth Special Prize for Planning from the Japan Association for Planning and Administration, the fiscal 1999 Environmental Award from the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, and the Environmental Award at the Fifteenth Tokyo Creation Awards. In addition, the Kitakyushu Eco-Town is described in the textbooks of primary and junior high schools, as a representative example of initiatives leading toward a recycling-oriented society. These initiatives are attracting attention not only from Japan but also from overseas, and as the table below indicates, Eco-Town receives a growing number of visitors and study tours.
Study Tours and Visitors to Kitakyushu Eco-Town
Developments in Phase 2
Phase 1 of the Eco-Town Project, which started in 1997, has ended. Phase 2 began in August 2002, with the following targets. The vision being presented is to become "Asia's International Resource-Recycling and Environmental Industry Base City," with a target year of fiscal 2010. The major initiatives of this phase are described below.
¡¦Expansion of the area covered under the plan
Expand the area to include the entire eastern part of the Hibikinada area, and attract more companies. At present the recycling companies located here are involved in pachinko (game) machines, waste timber, waste plastic, toner cartridges and beverage containers.
¡¦Attract new environmental industries
Companies currently sited here aim for recycling, but in the future, attract new industries such as those involved in re-using and re-building of used items, etc.¡¡ In addition, aim to create projects that are in the business of developing networks and distribution systems that use information technologies.
¡¦Construction of multi-function core facilities
Construction is underway on facilities to process the post-recycling
residue and other materials generated from companies in the Kitakyushu
Eco-Town project in a steady and proper way, and to supply the electricity
and heating energy needs within the complex these materials. Work began
in June 2003 and the facilities are expected to be operating in March
of 2005. They is expected to have the capacity to handle 320 tons of material
per day, and produce 14,000 kilowatts of electricity. The use of these
leftover materials would move the entire project closer to achieving true
Success Factors of the Eco-Town Project
There are a number of critical factors for the success of not only this
Eco-Town project, but also for recycling and environmental industries
in general. Here we summarize five major points:
Buy examining the city of Kitakyushu in terms of these points, we can
also consider the success factors of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town.
Kitakyushu Eco-Town-Evaluation and Future Challenges for Social Asset
In closing we discuss Eco-Town's achievements and future challenges.
Regarding the evaluation of achievements, no studies have been done yet
that comprehensively and quantitatively evaluate the Eco-Town, so here
we must limit ourselves to a qualitative, selective evaluation. Here we
can raise two cases.