Establishment of Joint Venture to Commercialize “Waste to Ethanol" Technology

  • SEKISUI
  • INCJ

Apr 16, 2020
SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD.
INCJ, Ltd.

・Establish a verification plant in Kuji City, Iwate, and start its operation for a verification project (ethanol supply) by the end of fiscal 2021
・Enhance the recruitment of local municipalities and private businesses as partners, aiming full-scale commercial operation in fiscal 2025

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. (President and Representative Director: Keita Kato; hereinafter, “SEKISUI CHEMICAL”) and INCJ, Ltd. (President and COO: Mikihide Katsumata; hereinafter: “INCJ”) have established a joint venture called SEKISUI BIO REFINERY CO., LTD. (hereinafter, “JV”) with the aim of verification and commercialization of the technology converting combustible waste into ethanol*1 using the microbial catalyst jointly developed by SEKISUI CHEMICAL and US start-up company LanzaTech (hereinafter, “BR*2 ethanol technology”).

*1 See SEKISUI CHEMICAL Dec. 6 2017 press release: “Turning “Waste” into Ethanol Establishing a first-in-the-world innovative production technology”.
*2 BR: Abbreviation for Bio Refinery.

For the JV to conduct the final stages of verification of BR ethanol technology for future implementation and commercialization, a verification plant will be established in Kuji City, Iwate. It is planned that operation for verification project will start at the end of fiscal 2021. At the verification plant, approximately one tenth (approx. 20t/day) of the volume of municipal solid waste processed at a standard-scale waste disposal facility will be received from an existing waste disposal facility and then used as a raw material to produce ethanol. Partners such as local municipalities, waste disposal-related companies and plant manufacturers will be widely recruited. Ethanol produced at the verification plant will be supplied to many companies in various industries that are interested in this technology for the assessment of the use of the ethanol in various products and businesses. Through these initiatives the JV aims to achieve full-scale commercialization of BR ethanol technology.

Through the verification project of BR ethanol technology by the JV, both SEKISUI CHEMICAL and INCJ will contribute to the creation of the ultimate resource recycling social system that could help to solve various social issues.

<Future image for what the JV will achieve>

Future image for what the JV will achieve

1.Background

Approximately 60 million tons*3 of combustible waste is generated each year in Japan. When converted to calories, this would equate to approximately 200 trillion kcal. Although this is easily of sufficient size compared to the amount of fossil resources used to produce plastics in Japan (approx. 30 million tons/year*4, approx. 150 trillion kcal), only some of this waste is recycled while most of it is incinerated and disposed by means of landfill.

Plastics are utilized in various convenient products for our lifestyles and are an indispensable part of our daily lives. Meanwhile, as highlighted by the issue of marine plastic waste, the handling of plastics after they have been used is a serious problem. In order to solve this issue, plastics need to be recycled after use..

To pass on a sustainable society to the next generation, SEKISUI CHEMICAL has engaged in the conversion of waste into resources for new products. Under this initiative, unsorted unrecyclable waste including plastic waste are converted into an urban oil field. In 2017, technology for converting raw materials such as unsorted unrecyclable waste into ethanol was jointly developed with LanzaTech. Since then it has recruited partners and investigated business models by utilizing project supported by the Ministry of the Environment (Carbon Cycle Society Model Demonstration Project) in order to achieve the practical implementation and commercialization of this technology.

*3 Cited from: Converted by SEKISUI CHEMICAL based on “Reports on surveys of wide area movement of waste, and of the actual status of the recycling volume of waste, etc.” by the Ministry of the Environment
*4 Cited from: Converted by SEKISUI CHEMICAL based on “Plastic products, plastic waste and resource recovery” by the Plastic Waste Management Institute

<Expected schedule for commercialization and business deployment for BR ethanol technology>

Expected schedule for commercialization and business deployment for BR ethanol technology

2. Purpose of Establishment of JV by SEKISUI CHEMICAL and INCJ

Strong collaboration with partners such as local municipalities administrating waste disposal and private companies is indispensable for the commercialization and business expansion of BR ethanol technology, and promotion of its widespread use throughout society.

SEKISUI CHEMICAL will collaborate with INCJ, a public/private sector fund supervised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, to construct strong collaborative relationships with partners such as local municipalities, waste disposal-related companies, plant manufacturers and companies that use ethanol. SEKISUI CHEMICAL anticipates INCJ’s support for the discussions and coordination with related ministries.

Based on its basic policy of overcoming industry and organizational boundaries to cultivate and create industry that will be responsible for national wealth for the next generation through open innovation, INCJ believes that investment in the said JV matches its basic philosophy.

By commercialization of BR ethanol technology and expansion of its business by this JV, both SEKISUI CHEMICAL and INCJ are aiming to contribute to regions throughout Japan and to contribute to solving social issues by achieving a circular economy with carbon recycling at its center, in order to create a sustainable society.

3.Comments by SEKISUI CHEMICAL and INCJ on establishment of the JV

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. President and Representative Director Keita Kato
SEKISUI CHEMICAL considers its top issue to be ESG management, and we are aiming to speed up and enhance initiatives in this field. The most important issue in order to achieve this is using waste as a resource. Based on the conviction that we must aggressively pursue this goal, we are engaging in developing technology that can be leveraged in order to use “waste” as resources. With the support of INCJ, we hope to engage in a diverse range of collaborations and to contribute to solving social issues by accelerating practical implementation in society.

INCJ, Ltd. Chairman and CEO: Toshiyuki Shiga
This business aims to create a bio refinery eco system that is not dependent on fresh fossil resources with expectation of contributing to solving the global issues of reducing CO2 and recycling plastic waste. INCJ will collaborate with SEKISUI CHEMICAL to promote further open innovation combining multiple technologies for commercialization of this “waste to resources” technology.

Reference data

【Summary of newly established JV】

Name

SEKISUI BIO REFINERY CO., LTD.

Location

2-10-4, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo (within SEKISUI CHEMICAL Tokyo Head Office)

Representative

President and Representative Toru Ryoso

Date of establishment

April 2020

Principal Business

Verification project for BR ethanol technology and business expansion of BR ethanol technology

【Summary of SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD.】

Location

2-10-4, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo (SEKISUI CHEMICAL Tokyo Head Office)

Representative

President and Representative Keita Kato

Date of establishment

March 1947

Principal business

・Manufacturing/sale of high functioning resin-related materials such as automotive materials
and electronic materials
・Manufacturing/sale of pipes and engineering materials for water and sewage,
construction-related materials, and functional materials
・Unit housing manufacturing/sale and renovation business
・Medical business such as medical products for extracorporeal diagnosis

【Summary of INCJ, Ltd.】

Location

1-4-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Representative

President and CEO Mikihide Katsumata

Date of establishment

September 2018 (split from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan)

Principal business

Supporting industrial innovation through investment etc. in innovative businesses                     

【BR ethanol technology】

In 2017, SEKISUI CHEMICAL and LanzaTech jointly developed production technology that converts waste gathered at waste disposal facilities into gas without waste separation process and then convert the gas into ethanol using the microbes without using any heat or pressure. This innovative technology has made it possible to use “waste”, abundant but extremely difficult to use in business, as a resource alternative to fresh fossil resources.

<Summary of BR ethanol technology>

Summary of BR ethanol technology

About SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group

Headquartered in Japan, SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. (TSE: 4204) and its subsidiaries make up the SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group. 26,000 employees in over 200 companies throughout 21 countries aim to contribute to improving the lives of the people of the world and the earth’s environment. Thanks to a history of innovation, dedication and a pioneering spirit, SEKISUI CHEMICAL now holds leading positions in its three diverse business divisions as well as top global market share in interlayer film, foam products, conductive particles and more.
Since its foundation in 1947, the SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group has dedicated itself to social and environmental contribution and is now an internationally recognized leader in sustainability and environmental initiatives, having recently been selected as one of the Global 100 most sustainable companies. SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group will continue to maintain a strong corporate presence for 100 years and beyond.

Press Contact

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD.
Public Relations Department
E-mail: kouhou@sekisui.com

Disclaimer

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements due to changes in global economic, business, competitive market and regulatory factors.

Aiming to build the ultimate resource recycling social system