Utilising Microorganisms in Biomass : Venture for Japanese Waste Disposal Solution

Komham Inc., a Japanese startup based in Sapporo, has developed a new method of decomposing organic waste using microorganisms, which could revolutionize the way that waste is processed and contribute to mitigating global warming. The company, whose name derives from the waste-decomposing bacteria they produce, aims to reduce organic refuse, including livestock manure and sewage sludge, with a technology that drastically cuts greenhouse gas emissions often produced by transportation and incineration of waste.

Suno Nishiyama, founder of Komham, envisioned that “environmental protection [should be] a part of everyday life,” which led her to create a venture that ordinary citizens could be part of. With a solution that can process 98% of organic waste in just 24 hours, eliminating the need to turn it into compost, the company sells bacteria that decompose food waste, wood chips, and sewage sludge to its partners such as Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, local governments in Sapporo, Kawasaki, and Yokohama.

Komham plans to bring their new technology to the masses by selling stand-alone “smartcompost” boxes containing the bacteria next year. The smart system can measure the amount of waste disposed of and provide rest battery information, enabling the owner to monitor the waste decomposition process. The boxes will be powered by solar energy and will not require water treatment, thus avoiding unpleasant odors.

Nishiyama believes that the absence of a research background is an advantage, as she can explain their product without using technical terms, so widening the appeal of this revolutionary technology. The company intends to make smartcompost boxes ubiquitous across different locations, such as campsites, schools, and high-rise condominiums, and distinguish their product and reduce food waste by collecting data on waste disposal and usage frequency.

Nishiyama’s goals for the future of the company include expanding overseas, particularly in countries like India and Vietnam, where food waste is increasing due to rapid population growth while waste disposal standards have not been established. “I think there is an opportunity to make a foray into foreign countries after trying it out in Japan,” she said.

This innovative solution addresses several environmental crises globally, and the technology could bring an impactful change to each household’s waste disposal habits, promoting sustainability as a part of everyday life.

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