Turning bras into fuel

Japanese underwear makers have found a way to solve a source of social anxiety, keep hundreds of thousands of bras out of the landfill and take some pressure off the country's electrical grid.

Japanese underwear makers have found a way to solve a source of social anxiety , keep hundreds of thousands of bras out of the landfill and take some pressure off the country's electrical grid. Triumph International and Wacoal Corp. have collected about 380,000 bras over the past several years and turned them into nearly 32 tons of RPF, a refuse paper and plastic fuel that can be used to run boilers, power generation facilities and dryers, the Mainichi Daily News reported recently.

Throwing underwear in the trash is a source of anxiety for Japanese women in large part because many cities and towns have regulations that require residents to put garbage into transparent plastic bags. Wacoal found in a 2004 survey that 61 percent of respondents were reluctant to throw bras in the trash.

Simply put, the ladies don't want their unmentionables to be seen or talked about. And who would?

Bra fuel nuts and bolts

Once the bras have been collected via each company's respective recycling program, metals such as the wires built into the underside of the cups, are removed. The remaining parts are turned into RPF.

RPF made from separate refuse, and not house garbage, emits little dioxin when incinerated, according to the Japan RPF Association. And its combustion efficiency is as high as coal or coke, but generates less carbon dioxide.

Energy shortages

Bra fuel won't solve Japan's larger energy problem. The Fukushima nuclear has prompted Japan to move away from nuclear power, a move that will mean heavy reliance on liquefied natural gas in the short to medium-term and energy shortages. Renewable energy will replace some of that lost generation, but not all -- at least not in the foreseeable future.

However, the bra fuel generated by Triumph and Wacoal is another example of Japanese industrial companies and manufacturers finding ways to generate more of their own energy and easing pressures on the country's electrical grid.

[Via: the Mainichi Daily News]

Photo: Flickr user, How Can I Recycle This

Related:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com