[From November Issue 2010]
U’ S Corporation
The “Tokyo Oil Field 2017” project is now in progress. Their business is to collect and recycle cooking oil used by restaurants and at home in Tokyo. SOMEYA Yumi, the Chief Executive Officer of U’S Corporation, is the one who had the idea of establishing a recycling center where discarded cooking oil could be collected and reused as a natural resource.
SOMEYA’s parents have been operating a cooking oil recycling factory since 1949. When Someya traveled around Asia after she graduated from high school, she was almost killed by a mudslide in Nepal had she not reacted quick enough to save herself. Afterwards, she learned from the locals that this natural disaster was a result of “cutting down too many trees from the mountains,” and she soon became interested in protecting the environment. She also realized that her parents’ business could directly contribute to solving the problem.
After she returned to Japan, Someya started working at her parents’ factory and collected used cooking oil by themselves. Before that it has been brought from smaller recycling agents. In 1993 they even succeeded in developing VDF (Vegetable Diesel Fuel) made from all the discarded oil for the first time in the world.
In order to expand her parents’ business, Someya established U’S in 1997. The new business continues to collect used cooking oil, while also selling VDF, soap, candles and other products made from recycled materials.
“Our business is well-received by people who recycle because they understand the logic of reusing cooking oil as an ingredient for soap that they can take back home. And since VDF can naturally replace gasoline, it can fuel the oil-collecting trucks and eco-tour buses,” says KASAHARA Takahiro, the company’ publicity agent.
And now the company is pursuing the “Tokyo Oil Field 2017” project with a plan to collect and recycle all the used cooking oil in Tokyo by 2017. “The amount of used cooking oil coming out of Japan every year is roughly 400,000 tons. Half of it comes from restaurants and gets recycled, but the rest comes from homes, which is just dumped as waste and burned,” explains Kasahara.
Presently there are now 120 oil-collection stations in and around Tokyo, and their numbers are also increasing in the surrounding prefectures. Their trucks continuously drive around collecting used oil that people from registered shops and homes want to recycle. “We get many requests saying that people want an oil-collecting station nearby, so we are now accepting applications from shops and people who want to cooperate with us,” says Kasahara. Their ultimate goal is to expand their network of “oil field” partnerships domestically and internationally, while providing both the infrastructure and the technology.