Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

August 23, 2006


Japanese NGO Supports Recycled Soap Production in Asia

Keywords: NGO / Citizen Reduce / Reuse / Recycle 

A project to recycle discarded cooking oil into soap is being conducted in several Asian countries with the support of the Natural Soap Association (NSA), a Japanese environmental non-governmental organization (NGO). The project was started in South Korea in 1991 and has since spread to Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. As of 2006, construction of a factory is also under way in Indonesia.

In Bangkok, Thailand, for example, the soap production facility is located in Klong Toei, a large slum. The discarded cooking oil recycling equipment was set up on the site of the Shanti Volunteer Association, a Tokyo-based environmental NGO working to help improve people's living standards in the Klong Toei slum. Neighborhood residents bring their used kitchen oil to recycle into powdered soap. The facility produces 500 kilograms of powdered soap annually, most of which is wholesaled through a consumers' cooperative that grows organic bananas in southern Thailand. The co-op exports the organic bananas washed using the soap.

Yoichi Tani, the head of NSA, has been supporting victims of Minamata disease, a disease caused by pollution of the sea with organic mercury. The first major outbreak occurred in Minamata, Japan, in the mid-1950s. Tani launched soap production by recycling used oil with the aim of tackling water pollution problems, and established a recycled-soap factory in Minamata City in 1987. His concerns about environmental issues in other Asian countries lead him to visit Klong Toei for field work. There, he was asked by the SVA to help to establish a recycled-soap production project in Klong Toei.

Members of the recycled-soap production project organize annual conferences on residential environment issues in Asia, and gather together for exchanges at a different place in Asia every year.

Posted: 2006/08/23 06:35:57 AM
Japanese version

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