Japan’s waste disposal method attracts attention in Africa as a way to curb global warming

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This 2017 photo provided by Yasushi Matsufuji, Professor Emeritus at Fukuoka University, shows the largest waste disposal site in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, after a major collapse in March this that year, killing around 200 people, including nearby residents. The Fukuoka method of waste disposal was later introduced.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Mainichi) — The issue of waste in Africa was discussed at length during the COP27 climate change summit here. Expectations are high for Japan’s waste disposal technology, but how are global warming and waste disposal related?

In Africa, it is estimated that less than 10% of all waste is currently properly disposed of in landfills or through recycling. In many cases, waste is simply piled up in naturally formed landfill areas, and these sites are attracting attention as a source of methane.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and an international framework for a 30% reduction in the gas from 2020 levels by 2030 was set at the COP26 summit in 2021. About 20% of global emissions of methane come from waste, and during the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the host country, Egypt, proposed a framework to reduce methane, with the aim to properly dispose of at least 50% of Africa’s waste by 2050.

To contribute to this initiative, the Japanese government has promoted the landfill technology called “Fukuoka method” as a measure to reduce methane emissions.

When food scraps are piled up in the fields, dirty water accumulates inside, causing a lack of oxygen, and methane gas is generated by microorganisms active in such an environment.






Yasushi Matsufuji, professor emeritus at Fukuoka University, third from right, provides advice for improvements using the Fukuoka method at a waste disposal site in Kenya. (Photo courtesy of Yasushi Matsufuji)

The method, developed by Fukuoka University and the Fukuoka Municipal Government, is a technology in which drain pipes and gas vent pipes are installed to drain water and allow air to circulate naturally. in the stacked layers of waste, thus suppressing the generation of methane. It was introduced to many parts of Japan, and in 1979 it was adopted as the standard structure in the country in accordance with national guidelines for final burial sites.

The advantage of the Fukuoka method is that it can be implemented with materials readily available in developing countries, such as bamboo and scrap tires. According to the Fukuoka government, the method has already been adopted in 21 countries around the world, particularly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, with technical cooperation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and others. organizations.

Yasushi Matsufuji, a professor emeritus at Fukuoka University who helped develop the method, told Mainichi Shimbun: “It’s important to use materials that can be obtained locally and to pass on technologies that local people can master. The problem of waste in developing countries is not only environmental, but also encompasses poverty, industry and many other issues.”

Matsufuji has supported waste management in Africa and elsewhere as a representative of a nonprofit organization.

“Sharing technology should help improve the livelihoods of Africa as a whole,” he said.

(Japanese original by Tomoko Mimata and Ei Okada, Science and Environmental News Department)

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