Reduce / Reuse / Recycle

March 11, 2006


Paper Mill Raises Earthworms

Keywords: Manufacturing industry Reduce / Reuse / Recycle 

Nippon Paper Industries Co. of Japan has been culturing earthworms using residues from paper production. This project, a unique approach in the nation, is conducted on the extensive lands of its Komatsushima mill in Komatsushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, located at the mouth of the Seto Inland Sea.

At the factory, paper sludge is mixed with cow manure, weeds, and licorice residue generated in the process of producing stevia and glycyrrhizin, both of which are natural sweeteners produced by a separate company on the same factory site. This mixture is fermented and brewed to produce feed for the earthworms. Each year, 700 kilograms of earthworms, roughly 1.5 million in number, are shipped to various destinations, such as a zoo in Osaka City, where the worms are used as feed for kiwi birds.

Earthworms consume organic matter in the soil and excrete waste in the form of castings, rich in minerals, which can be used as a useful fertilizer. The waste also has an aggregate structure, helping soften the soil. The factory thus sells not only earthworms but also organic soil used as a soil conditioner.

The earthworm raising at the Komatushima mill dates back to more than 30 years ago, reaching its peak in the 1990s. The shipment of the worms, however, has been declining due to an increase in imported earthworms from China as well as lower demand from golf courses for organic soil. Meanwhile, reflecting the current health boom, the tea market is expected to grow rapidly. To cope with the demand for organic soil to improve the soil structure suited to grow tea leaves, the company is considering a production increase.

Posted: 2006/03/11 11:12:31 AM
Japanese version