TOKYO — Horiba and Hitachi Zosen are combining their technologies for a venture into wastewater treatment in Southeast Asia.
As a first step, the Japanese companies have set up a demonstration facility in central Myanmar’s Wundwin township, a hub of the country’s weaving industry, where rivers run dark with the runoff from dye works.
The plan is to promote the water treatment business first in Myanmar and then expand elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where worsening water quality is becoming widespread as economies develop and living standards rise.
Japanese companies first advanced into Southeast Asia’s output-focused “arterial industries,” such cars and appliances. This move by Horiba and Hitachi Zosen reflects a growing trend among manufacturers to bring their technologies to bear in “venous industries,” like waste treatment and recycling, which recover reusable resources.
The demonstration facility in Myanmar combines Horiba’s instruments for measuring water quality and water pollution with Hitachi Zosen’s high-speed filtration system. The measuring instruments resist the buildup of pigments, and the filtration system uses specialty fibers instead of granular materials for filtration, making it faster and easier to maintain.
The Myanmar facility is located in a region that is home to some 630 dye works, where almost nothing has been done to treat wastewater. Rivers that catch this runoff are thought to be three times as polluted as other waters. The government of Myanmar has begun to conduct water-quality studies and take other steps to combat the problem.
The new facility can treat some 2 tons of effluent a day, equal to 5% of Wundwin’s dye wastewater. Japan’s Ministry of the Environment helped subsidize the installation cost.
Starting this spring, the two companies will educate the local dye industry and municipal agencies about wastewater treatment and provide technical instruction, aiming to sell wastewater processing equipment and win contracts for operational support.
Horiba sees this as a way to help reach of goal of doubling sales related to water quality management to 20 billion yen ($176 million) in the five years to fiscal 2020. Most of this growth is supposed to occur overseas.
Hitachi Zosen eventually aims to increase the overseas component of its group sales from 30% to 50%. It, too, sees water treatment, a business it has done less to globalize than waste-to-energy plants, as a fertile area for growth.
Japanese duo starts project to clean textile industry runoff in Myanmar
Two-thirds of the world’s population will lack access to adequate daily drinking water in 2025, according to a United Nations forecast. Asia is particularly at risk from the looming water crisis. The region accounts for more than 60% of global water usage, and its thirst is growing fast.