Face CASE29 Face

Honda Beach Cleanup Initiative: A Focus on Ishikawa Dealers Association of Ishikawa Prefecture, Honda Philanthropy Office, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

Operating staff hold a final, on-site meeting before the day of the cleanup

Operating staff hold a final, on-site meeting before the day of the cleanup

New partnerships forged with local governments and residents

 Since then, the Dealers Association of Ishikawa Prefecture has hosted beach cleanups in Ishikawa once or twice a year.
 On July 6, 2013, the day before a cleanup, event organizers met at Notojima Marine Park’s Kaizoku-koen Beach to review the work schedule a final time based on the look of the beach, weather, and other conditions.
 But upon first glance, the beach this time looked fairly clean. There was seaweed and bits of wood that had been brought in by the tide, and small plastic bottles and cans lying here and there on the sand, but no large articles such as hunks of driftwood could be seen.
 “Nanao City took care of the larger pieces of litter using heavy equipment. It’s our job to work with local volunteers and clean up the rest tomorrow,” said Sugifuji.
 In other words, Nanao City uses the following procedure for coastal cleanups: 1) City hall uses machinery to remove large pieces of litter that are too heavy or cumbersome for people to carry, 2) Volunteers assembled by the Nanao Marine City Promotion Council of the Nanao Chamber of Commerce and Industry pick up smaller pieces, and 3) Members of the Dealers Association of Ishikawa Prefecture use a Honda beach cleaner and other equipment to sift out even finer debris and pull out litter left buried in the sand.
 “That’s local government, local residents, and the Honda Group,” said Shintani, counting on his fingers. “Beach cleanups in Nanao are a collaboration between three entities that perfectly complement each other’s weaknesses. When we finish our work together, you would never know you’re looking at the same beach.”

Organizers draw in the sand to discuss the day’s procedures

Organizers draw in the sand to discuss the day’s procedures"

The beach is kept relatively clean, except for the intertidal zone, as seen here.

The beach is kept relatively clean, except for the intertidal zone, as seen here.

Yoshihiro Kimura, Chief Engineer, Motorcycle R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

Yoshihiro Kimura, Chief Engineer, Motorcycle R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
 This tripartite collaboration, however, did not arise out of thin air.
 When Sugifuji went to Nanao City Hall in the first year of the initiative to apply for use of the beach, the city welcomed him with open arms. No surprise there since Sugifuji was basically saying Honda would clean the beach for free right before the swimming season. But what he saw when he got to the beach was staggering: driftwood and large rocks, domestic waste and debris that appeared to have drifted to Japan’s shores from other countries, half buried in the sand. It took over half a day of backbreaking labor to remove them. This left little time to use the all-important beach cleaner.
 Sugifuji talked with city hall again and arranged to have the city remove the large items starting the following year.
 “The city understood the situation and was very accommodating. From their perspective, they were simply doing what was in their power to do and asking Honda to take care of the rest,” said Sugifuji.
 Sometime thereafter, collaboration with local residents deepened when the Nanao Marin City Promotion Council began co-hosting the cleanups.
 “Thirty or so people from the dealers association can only pick up so much litter by themselves,” said Sugifuji. “A chunk of rock left in the sand can damage our equipment, so removing as much as possible by hand ahead of time lets us use the equipment with less worry. That’s another reason why doing it with local residents is important.”

Honda beach cleaning equipment the epitome of low-tech?

 Municipalities all over Japan have been more or less supportive of Honda’s beach cleanup efforts, not only because Honda has offered to clean their beaches for free, but also because Honda cleans their beaches using technologies and equipment that are available nowhere else.
 Many beaches today can be found littered with such hazardous items as broken glass and hypodermic needles, as well as small debris like cigarette butts. Gathering all of these by hand is no trivial task. Using Honda’s beach cleaner and other equipment, on the other hand, can remove all of these and almost all other types of litter that come in sizes smaller than a fist. And there’s no other company in the world with such technologies and equipment.
 “When you hear something like that, you might think, ‘Honda must’ve developed some pretty high-tech gadgets,’ but really that’s not the case at all. In fact, you can’t get more low-tech than this. These aren’t machines; they’re tools for picking up trash,” Yoshihiro Kimura, Chief Engineer at the Motorcycle R&D Center, told us with a smile. Kimura was one of the volunteers who helped launch the Beach Cleanup Initiative at the R&D Center in 1999. Now he is the third in a line of associates in charge of developing equipment. He travels with the equipment for beach cleanups around the country to check on their performance and ease of use.
 Kimura explained in his own words how Honda’s beach cleaning equipment works.
 “First we use our hands to remove debris that sits on top of the sand. When that’s finished we use a machine to turn the sand over and loosen it up, as if we’re tilling soil. Then we pass it through a wire mesh. This traps the debris while letting the sand pass through. These three steps constitute the basic method Honda uses to remove litter. So the most important equipment we use is something to turn the sand over, a sifter, and a vehicle to pull them.”

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