Major Japanese pest-control company Sanix Inc. plans to build its first power plant, a 74,000-kilowatt thermoelectric generator that burns only plastic waste, in Tomakomai, on the northern island of Hokkaido.
Construction began in May on the 10 billion-yen ($80.6 million) project. Operations are to begin in August 2002, providing power on a retail basis to companies and factories on Hokkaido.
The plant, which will be the world's first electric power plant to be run entirely on fuel made from recycled plastic waste, will be able to convert more than 1.5 million pounds per day - or around 500 million pounds per year - of waste plastic into electricity.
Sanix President Shinichi Munemasa has referred to the new business as ``resource-recycling power generation.''
Currently, about 44 percent of a total 21.7 billion pounds of waste plastics is recycled in Japan, he noted.
``As plastics are made from petroleum, they have a high caloric content. ... When the production of nitrogen and dioxin oxides is controlled through the burning process, they can become a powerful fuel,'' Munemasa said.
By using a two-stage combustion system and bag and limestone filters, the power plant will emit fewer pollutants than most oil-fired power stations built during the past 10 years, he said.
Sanix will be the first new entry into the large-lot power-retailing business to operate its own power plant. Under government reforms implemented in March 2000, the retail power market for high-volume, large-lot industrial and commercial users is open to competition.
According to Sanix, there are about 100 such users on Hokkaido with a combined power demand of 1.3 million kilowatts - a market nearly 20 times larger than Sanix's planned supply capacity.
Sanix plans to build four more plastic-burning power plants around the country by 2004.
To feed the planned plants, Sanix rapidly has been expanding its nationwide network of plastics recycling collection points. It already has eight waste plastic collection and processing centers, with two more under construction. It expects to build 10 more centers by April 2003, giving it about 2.2 billion pounds per year of recycled plastic for power generation.