Bras wear out, and Japanese women are reluctant to toss them into clear plastic bags that are deposited in the trash. Neighbors might see them when the garbage is collected. Guys with unsavory tastes might rifle the bags and do unspeakable things with them.
Disposing of the bras poses a major dilemma. Fortunately, two intimate apparel manufacturers, Triumph International and Wacoal, have an environmentally sensible solution: collect the bras and turn them into industrial fuel.
The companies extract any metal and what remains is made into RPF (refuse paper and plastic fuel). The waste material burns about as efficiently as coal but produces less carbon dioxide and costs much less to produce.
Japan Times reports:
Triumph has collected more than 200,000 bras since it began recycling activities in 2009 and turned them into 14 tons of RPF fuel. Wacoal, meanwhile, said it has collected more than 179,200 bras and produced 17.9 tons of the fuel.
Other undergarment manufacturers are coming on board as well. Japan Times cites Patagonia Inc., which takes back its own cotton and polyster t-shirts and recycles them into new clothing. Another company, Rovex, offers a ¥500 coupon for its used underwear.
In the face of mounds of discarded undergarments, these are small steps forward, but they are in the direction of better use of recyclable materials.
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Photo from How can I recycle this via Flickr Creative Commons