Face CASE29 Face

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

Once separated, plastic waste is loaded onto a crushing machine.

Once separated, plastic waste is loaded onto a crushing machine.

'Change in awareness is what we need to keep moving forward.'

 At Marumori Plant, another plant at Miyagi Factory No. 1, efforts are underway to turn plastic waste from plastic injection molding into a reusable material. A good example of what this waste looks like is the frame that holds together the various parts in a new plastic model kit. Whereas Marumori Plant simply threw this material away before, now it crushes it into small pieces and sells it to other businesses.
  Back when production was low, this material would be loaded onto a truck and then processed as waste, costing the company a certain number of yen per truck-full. However, as production rose, so did the amount of plastic waste, and in turn the environmental impact and the cost of disposal.
 "All the pieces are different shapes, so they don't settle well," said Kato. "Soon we had two, then three trucks full, so we switched to measuring it based on weight. But that didn't change how much we were producing. We had to do something different, so we talked to a few recycling companies to see if they would take it."
 Kato learned that recyclers would buy it from them if they crushed it into smaller pieces. That would not only reduce the volume of the waste and therefore its environmental impact, but it would also cut costs. However, there was one thing that stood in the way: They were asked to separate it. The recyclers would purchase the plastic on the condition that it was not only crushed, but also separated by type. While plastics may look similar, they have slightly different chemical properties, such as the amount of glass material they contain.At the time, Marumori Plant was generating 11 types of plastic waste. To sell it, the plant would need to put each type in its original bags before all 11 got mixed together. Line workers said they wouldn’t do this, of course, since it would add to their workload. Kato recalled how getting them to understand the importance of recycling was the most difficult part of this initiative.
 "Production line workers are experts in making things, so getting them to pay attention to the waste they create is not easy. I figured getting them to separate all waste from the get-go was out of the question, so first I asked only one of the lines, the one that was most understanding. 'Just help us out for a month,' I said. And so gradually they started cooperating. Although on several occasions they didn't separate it completely and so we couldn't sell it. Each time that happened I nagged them about the advantages of selling and disadvantages of not selling. A step at a time, I thought. That's all I could do."
 Next, the company built a system for managing waste processing costs by section.By reporting how much waste each section created each month and how much that waste cost to dispose of, they could determine where major waste streams were coming from and set targets for upcoming months. The other goal of the system was to make cost management, and therefore waste reduction, an individual responsibility.
 Instilling environmental awareness in line workers was harder than Kato had expected. But that didn't keep him from trying. When only words wouldn't work, he showed them the waste that they didn't separate, and explained repeatedly the reasons why it needed to be done. After continuing this effort for some time, behavior slowly started to change. Today, the plant has achieved significant results in both waste and disposal cost reduction, thanks to Kato's tenaciousness and firm belief in his mission.
 To the line workers, Kato was no doubt a nuisance who just gave them more annoying work to do. Perhaps they even treated him like the mean boss, given his need to enforce the work.
"There definitely was some of that, but I didn't pay it any mind. If I did, an initiative like this wouldn't have gotten off the ground. That's just the role our division has been assigned. We all feel bad, but it's what we need to do to keep the plant moving forward," said Kato.

Forest development at Daiyama Mountain, while still in the experimental phase, is moving forward (top).

Birdhouses make the area more inviting to birds (bottom).

Forest development at Daiyama Mountain, while still in the experimental phase, is moving forward (top). Birdhouses make the area more inviting to birds (bottom).

It's all about giving back to the community

 CO2 emissions and waste reduction aren't the only environmental objectives Keihin is working on. Yatsu discussed another area where they plan to focus their resources.
 "Biodiversity conservation, which we started this year. In April, we borrow some land on nearby Daiyama Mountain and started managing the forest and improving the land so more plants and animals can live there. So far, 19 species of plants have been identified. We're still in an experimental phase, but we'll be conducting some habitat and biodiversity studies from which we hope to learn more about ecosystem development."
 Kakuda has always been blessed with a rich natural environmental. Still, Keihin has good reason to commit itself to biodiversity conservation. That is, it's good for the community.
 "When Keihin first came to Kakuda, the surrounding area was all rice paddies and vegetable fields. But slowly our facilities grew, and when you're manufacturing on a significant size of land, you're also emitting a sizable amount of CO2. When that happens, you can't deny the possibility that you're having a not-so-small impact on the local community. That's why we think we should do whatever we can to give back to local people. In our biodiversity conservation program, we eventually would like to be able to hold natural and social science classes in the forest. We'd like children to learn about the importance of nature firsthand by studying nature in nature."
 Keihin associates join local elementary schools and residents in other community service activities as well, such as cleaning convex traffic mirrors and collecting plastic bottle caps for recycling. Keihin doesn't want its plants just to minimize their impact on the surrounding environment. It wants them to be responsible, trusted members of their local communities. It's been 44 years since the company arrived in Kakuda. At the root of these efforts lies an appreciation for the community's support during that time and a determination to return the favor.

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