April 21, 2022 | News & Notices The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the carbonization of wood debris has been evaluated for the first time.

At Shimadzu Corporation, we have been promoting initiatives related to biochar since 2006. This material is of international interest with respect to bioactivation, environmental improvement, and its ability to entrap highly stable carbon for extended periods in soil and water. On this occasion, Shimadzu’s initiatives were recognized as effective in reducing CO2 emissions through provisional calculations by Associate Professor Katsuyuki Nakano in the College of Policy Science at Ritsumeikan University, a researcher in the field of life cycle assessment (LCA).

In order to contribute to creating a recycling society, since 2006, Shimadzu has carbonized wood debris produced in business activities, recycled it as a soil improvement agent, and used it for the green areas on the Shimadzu premises. In addition, since 2016, Shimadzu has donated the charcoal to the Setouchi Olive Foundation, for use in five olive groves on Teshima island, which are operated by this foundation. Since 2021, trial use has also started on farms within Kyoto City.
We performed an LCA to evaluate the effect of our ongoing initiatives on climate change issues.

Utilization in Olive Groves Operated by the Olive Foundation

Utilization in Olive Groves Operated by the Olive Foundation

Evaluation by Associate Professor Nakano

In terms of the Setouchi Olive Foundation, which of the organizations using the charcoal provided by Shimadzu is the farthest away, the emissions per kg of charcoal, including the CO2 emitted during transport, were calculated. As noted below, the reduction in CO2 was calculated at 1.26 kg of CO2e. Shimadzu donates 780 kg of charcoal to this foundation every year, which reduces CO2 by 982 kg of CO2e annually. This amount is equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by approximately 70 Japanese cedar trees annually.

Calculations in Detail

(1) CO2 emissions when manufacturing charcoal: 0.65 kg of CO2e
(2) CO2 emissions from transport by truck: 0.07 kg of CO2e
  Distance of transport by truck: 240.8 km  
(3) CO2 emissions from transport by ship: 0.01 kg of CO2e
  Distance of transport by ship: 21.5 km  
(4) Results of utilization: -1.99 kg of CO2e
Total ((1) + (2) + (3) + (4)): -1.26 kg of CO2e

Associate Professor Nakano commented as follows.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an urgent issue as we aim to establish a carbon neutral society by 2050. However, in some industrial activities, completely eliminating CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is difficult, so activities are needed to fix atmospheric CO2 in some way.
The use of biochar on agricultural land is one promising technique for countering global warming through the long-term retention of atmospheric CO2. There is no precedent for this visualization of CO2 fixation through the agricultural utilization of biochar manufactured voluntarily by businesses with used pallets as the raw material. I believe this activity warrants attention as a new alternative.


Environmental protection activities at Shimadzu