Contractors seek green image, recycling

by Kimio Ida

OSAKA — Amid rising environmental awareness across the business spectrum, the construction sector is often hit for lagging in this regard.

Takenaka Corp., an Osaka-based major contractor, is trying to dispel this reputation by recycling construction materials and reducing waste. The firm aims to achieve an overall material recycling rate of 97.2 percent in its ongoing demolition of a building in Kita Ward here.

More specifically, the company will recycle concrete, which accounts for 91.7 percent of materials generated during the demolition; scrap iron, which accounts for 4.1 percent; lumber fragments, which account for 1.1 percent; and electric wire, which accounts for 0.3 percent.

Concrete is recycled into materials that can be used to build roads and buildings, scrap iron is melted and recycled and wood chips are used in plywood, the firm said.

The remaining 2.8 percent of materials — including vinyl chloride, plastics and adhesives — cannot be recycled and will be incinerated.

Yuichi Kodai, of Takenaka’s environmental section, said, however, that the ultimate goal for the industry is to raise the recycling rate to 100 percent, a move that will require substantial manpower and awareness.

“At the final stage of dealing with waste, workers have to separate waste themselves,” Kodai said. “So it is important for our company to raise our workers’s environmental awareness.”

To this end, Takenaka has issued employees manuals on recycling.

Costs remain another hurdle. With the construction industry struggling amid a sluggish economy and dire business prospects, extra recycling costs are hard to swallow, Kodai said.

“We need to be aware that the construction industry itself will not be able to survive unless we tackle environmental problems seriously,” he added, however.