Women in Japan are being encouraged to recycle their used bras to be converted into solid fuel for industrial use.
Major Japanese underwear manufacturer Wacoal started a recycling program in 2008 where metals are removed from donated bras and remaining materials are converted into a type of fuel used for boilers and power generation facilities.
The company said it has since collected enough bras produce 17.9 tons of the fuel, according to an article published on Sunday by The Japan Times. This year, Wacoal expanded the program to include some of its stores in Taiwan.
Fellow underwear maker Triumph International Japan Ltd. said it collected enough used skivvies to produce 14 tons of fuel since jumping on board with recycling efforts in 2009, reports The Japan Times, citing Kyodo News.
Bras are typically made from fabrics and metal wiring, and their construction can make it difficult to separate component materials for recycling, Wacoal told Kyodo News. Converting used bras into a fuel classified as “refuse paper and plastic fuel” (RPF) helps make use of fabric material that otherwise cannot be recycled, the manufacturer said.
The bra-based RPF fuel has a combustion efficiency similar to coal but emits far less carbon dioxide, according to 3R Knowledge Hub – a Japan government-funded information database dedicated to the three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle).
RPF, which is made only from specified, sorted materials, also emits fewer dioxins when incinerated and contains far less water and impurities when compared to the trash-based fuel used in waste-to-energy facilities.
The cost of the bra-based fuel is about one-fourth that of coal and demand for RPF is increasing, the Japan RPF Association told The Japan Times.