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SUNAGAWA, Hokkaido (Kyodo) A garbage-processing center here gets the electricity it needs to operate all year round from kitchen waste.

The heat produced at Clean Plaza Kurukuru can also melt the snow on the city’s streets during winter.

The smell of methane gas is strong enough to make visitors who approach the center’s two tanks cover their noses. A large quantity of bacteria in the tanks helps to decompose the garbage and generate high-temperature methane gas, which is then used to produce electricity.

The tanks’ temperature is set at 55.

“There are 10,000 polyvinyl chloride tubes in the tanks for the bacteria to be active,” said Masato Aoki, an official of the health and sanitation cooperative in the Sunagawa area. “The bacteria clean up the garbage.”

The processing center was built at a cost of 2.5 billion yen. It opened in March last year after the existing garbage disposal facility became too small to handle the Sunagawa region’s trash.

Kitchen garbage collected in the area is brought to the center, which spends more than 100 million yen a year on handling an average of about 10 tons of refuse per day.

The garbage is ground down and moved to the tanks.

In the process, workers at the center remove plastic bags and other materials from the garbage to prevent the facility’s machines from breaking down.

There are four generators to burn gas and produce electricity.

They are capable of producing 120 kw, equivalent to the power consumed by about 40 households.

The power generated is used to run all the equipment at the center. The residual heat remaining from the power generation process is used in the winter to melt snow.

The residual methane gas is dried for use as a fertilizer. Aoki emphasized that almost everything in the garbage has some use, adding that there is nothing to be thrown away.

A similar center is located in the neighboring cities of Fukagawa and Takikawa. The Yokosuka municipality uses the generated gas as automobile fuel.

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