Sekisui Chemical Co. said it has developed the world’s first technology that can turn unseparated burnable trash into ethanol, a method that can help reduce the amount of garbage.

The company plans to commercialize the new recycling process in fiscal 2019 at the earliest, according to its Dec. 6 announcement.

Ethanol is used in spray solvents and cleaning materials, and it can be converted into ethylene, an ingredient for plastic products.

The annual size of the domestic ethanol market is 750,000 kiloliters.

Some local governments are already considering introducing the technology at their garbage treatment plants, according to Sekisui Chemical officials.

Existing techniques can produce gas from food scraps and wastepaper. With the help of micro-organisms, the gas can be turned into ethanol.

But household waste contains a number of different items in addition to food and wastepaper. The variety leads to fluctuations in the chemical composition of the generated gas, making it difficult to control the activity of micro-organisms under conventional methods.

Sekisui Chemical’s method first steams and burns the burnables at high temperatures to convert them into gas.

To solve the problem of fluctuations, the company adjusted the composition of the produced gas so that it could maintain an environment where the micro-organisms can work, allowing for a stable production of ethanol even when the trash is not separated.

According to Sekisui Chemical, 60 million tons of burnable trash is sent to treatment plants across Japan annually. Most of the garbage is incinerated, which leads to emissions of carbon dioxide.

Then it is buried.

Japan faces a shortage of space to bury the incinerated waste.