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Interview with Yawara of the Yazaki Group - current status and business strategy of waste wire recycling.

Yawara Corporation, a member of the Yazaki Group, is strong in the recycling of copper products, including electrical wires. The company has developed a unique recycling philosophy based on the corporate DNA of the 'too good to waste it spirit' cherished by the late Sadami Yazaki, the founder of the group. We visited the Ashitaka Plant in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where the company is based.

 

Yawara was born out of the three subsidiaries of the group. In 2013,  Yawara(和) Kogyo, which was involved in the recycling and processing of wooden drums with electric wires coiled around them to be shipped, and Numazu Logistics, which was in charge of logistics and product shipping within the plant premises, merged to form Yawara Corporation, which was then joined by part of  Iwao Kogyo, which was involved in recycling waste electric wires, and in March 2015, the current business organisation was formed. 

 

Samples of products and waste electric wires processed step by step

1.Selected cut (ending, removal of sleeve), 2. Waste electrical wire before processing,   

3. Crushing 4. Selected jute and paper 5. Plastics, 6. Metals. 7/8 completed bronze nuggets

 

I wanted to embody the founder's words, 'I will be the best scrap copper shop in Japan'." Masanao Sugisaki, president of Yawara, explains how the company started its recycling business more than 50 years ago. It was right around this time that the next-generation oxygen-free copper continuous casting and rolling equipment was introduced at the head office, replacing the first-generation rotary melting furnace, and production increased, mainly of vinyl electrical wires, with a corresponding increase in the volume of waste electrical wires. The momentum naturally grew that it was time to realise the founder's wishes. It is likely that the teachings of the founder, who had skillfully navigated the currents of the times, gave him the push he needed.

 

The process flow of waste electric wires is as follows. Through various processes such as receiving, weighing, sorting, cutting, crushing, grinding, wind, specific gravity and magnetic sorting, (1) copper nuggets, (2) waste plastic, (3) joints, plating and aluminium wires are shipped to the Fuji Plant of Yazaki Energy Systems (Yazaki ES) and to external specialist trading companies. This is supported by a small, elite copper recycling team.

 

One of the key factors behind the efficient operation of the team is the thorough cooperation and division of roles among group companies. The Raw Materials Procurement Department of Yazaki Corporation's Procurement Office and the Electric Wire Sales Division of Yazaki ES serve as overall supervisors and coordinators, while the sales forces of Yazaki Parts and Yazaki ES handle the time-consuming collection of recycled resources on a nationwide basis, allowing the Ashitaka Works of Yawara to concentrate on recycling operations using a contract processing method.

 

What was impressive about the series of processes in the plant was the work done at both the entrance and exit. Sleeves, joints and plated wires are first removed from the waste wires brought in, and metals other than pure copper are also removed, all by hand. The employees' operations were very useful and showed the solid experience of veterans. The final process, which is highly automated and divided into three stages, first skips jute and paper, then sifts out plastics using differences in specific gravity, and finally uses a magnetic sorter to sort out copper and iron. The employees in charge of the process looked on intently, probably because it is an important process that determines the quality of the final product, pure copper nuggets or miscellaneous nuggets. Jute, paper and other materials are also thermally recycled, resulting in "zero" waste requiring landfill disposal at the end of the process. 

 

 At the plant during operation

 

Transported waste electric wires               sleeves and joints before sorting 

 

preprocessing 

 

Cutting qirh a crusher                          specific gravity sorting of copper and plastics  

 

 Completed copper nuggets

 

With the recycling business becoming even more important against the backdrop of climate change measures, ESG and other factors, we finally asked the company about the future direction it aims to take as a member of the Yazaki Group. We will continue to value resources with the spirit of 'too good to be wasted' and master our unique sorting technology in the recycling business. As we process manually n some sectors, we will also aim to create a healthier workplace by increasing efficiency and reducing the workload of employees.

The DNA of the founder, who embraced the aspiration of "becoming the best scrap copper shop in Japan" and created new business opportunities from the generation of scrap wire due to the increased production of electrical wire.。I felt that a part of the founder's DNA has been passed on to Yawara. 

 

 

Japanese website is here

 

 

<IRuniverse G・Mochizuki. Translated by Marcin>

 

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