The Kuramae district in Taito Ward of Tokyo partnered with Asahi Breweries to reduce food waste and build community through craft beer.

Akiko Shigematsu, for JAPAN Forward

Upcycling is an approach that takes a waste material and gives it new value by converting it into a new and different product. This process is popular in the fashion industry. But it can also be seen in the production of beer in the Kuramae district of Tokyo’s Taito Ward.

Unwanted bread crusts from a sandwich shop are transformed into white beer. Coffee beans from test roasts, normally thrown away, are used to brew dark beer.

The flavors of these mottainai (“too good to waste”) ingredients, previously thrown out even though there were no problems with their quality or safety, come alive as exceptional aromas in beers. But goods are not the only thing circulating. The initiative has also promoted the flow of people-to-people relationships in this downtown community.

Problematic Waste Reduced to Zero

“Before, we spent around ¥3,000 JPY ($22 USD) every month to dispose of bread crusts, but now we have zero waste. Plus, it makes me so happy that they make such great tasting beer,” Kazuko Fukuchi, 58, owner of Marcelino Mori, a bakery popular for its sizable katsu and fruit sandwiches, says excitedly.

Since her father’s generation, the bakery has always cut off crusts to make its sandwiches easier for children and the elderly to eat. When the breadcrumb company that was buying the crusts went out of business, the bakery was faced with a problem. Sometimes the crusts were given away for free to customers who wanted them. But with approximately 20 kilograms of bread crusts a week, most ended up as waste.


By - grape Japan editorial staff.