Innovators Network

Ayako Fujii (藤井絢子) - Executive Director, Environmental Co-op Union, Shiga & President, Nanohana Project Network

When Red Tide, a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom which has been linked to increased nutrient loading from human activities, broke out at Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, Fujii started a recycling movement in 1989 which collected manufactured soap frequently dumped into the lake. Since then Shiga Prefecture has enacted an ordinance to prevent the eutrophication of Lake Biwa, also known as the Soap Ordinance. This ordinance has prompted detergent makers to manufacture and sell phosphorous-free synthetic detergent. In 1994, Lake Biwa was confronted with a new pollutant in the form of cooking oil. In order to clean the lake once more Fujii decided to transform the discarded cooking oil into diesel fuel. Then, she started the Nanohana Eco Project in 1998. The project grows rapeseed in fields that rotate their crops. The rapeseeds are converted into canola oil which in turn is used to cook lunch at schools. The discarded oil is then collected to make soap and fuel for cars and agricultural machinery in the area, essentially creating a zero-emission ecosystem. This concept has spread all over Japan and the Nanohana summit has been held every year since 2001. More than 100 groups all over Japan collaborate and cooperate to recycle canola oil. She is the author of Nanohana Ecological Revolution. A graduate of Sophia University, Fujii was born in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and has livid in Shiga Prefecture since 1971.

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