The idea of sociogeochemistry, which aims to analyze the roles of human activity from the geochemical point of view, was first proposed by Takahisa Hanya, then a professor of Tokyo Metropolitan University, in around 1960. He reached to this idea through studies of geochemical material balance of chemical elements in Japan islands under the influences of similar ideas by some pioneers, like Buffon and Vernadsky, who had pointed out the importance of the effects of human activity on the history of the earth or geochemical cycles of elements. Based on the idea of sociogeochemistry, Hanya and his coworkers made lots of studies on water pollution and material flow in urban areas. Parallel to these problems, they made studies on methodology of sociogeochemistry introducing a systems-analysis method. While the concept of sociogeochemistry was not widely accepted at first, it is becoming popular more and more along with the increase of environmental problems in the present day.
Life Cycle Assessment is a tool that gives us information for decision-making to decrease impacts of human activities on the global environment. Meanwhile “Sociogeochemistry” is a tool that gives us the coherent thinking to make out roots of the problems from above information and to make decisions on the issue actually. Both of them are able to complement one another to have a deep understanding of environmental problems and to take countermeasures of the issues. When Takahisa Hanya evolved “Sociogeochemistry,” he introduced his own “system theory” as the coherent methodology that is applied to both natural science and social science to solve various problems. Hanya found the directional behavior of systems from studies in “Sociogeochemistry” that was based on “system theory” and he advocated “Shanie hypothesis” as the underlying cause of it. Hanya made a working hypothesis where he defined “Shanie hypothesis” as an axiom. And he tried to explain and interpret the various issues like environmental problems in the hypothesis. Hanya has evolved this approach into a kind of value theory based on system theory. And he considered that his new value theory can become a cornerstone to design human society in the future.
I examined some ideas on environmental assessment among heritage of sociogeochemistry aspiring for the nouvelle vague of science that was developed by Professor Hanya who passed away in 2008. Professor Hanya noted a lot of subjects on today’s environmental science such as a construction of the environment oriented society, including the safety of life, respecting basic human rights, conservation of water quality in aquatic environment, waste treatment and recycle of industrial products, etc. in his sociogeochemistry. The last idea may contain the initial stage of Life Cycle Assessment. I discussed five items concerning environmental assessment among his ideas: 1）basic human rights; 2）systems analysis; 3）total volume control; 4）landscape conservation; and 5）environmental preservation. I hope that young students remember the sociogeochemistry as a foundation of environmental science, released by Professor Hanya.
Professor Hanya wrote in his sociogeochemistry the migration of human society from demanding production to an environment oriented society, because of construction for sustainable society. One of important subjects for building up the environment oriented society is a recycled use of unneeded goods, which expects an introduction of idea for Life Cycle Assessment. Recycling of plastic products is significant, because plastic waste remains un-decomposed for a long time on the Earth; however, volatile organic compounds are to be released from plastic waste on the process of its compression. These volatile organic compounds may be harmful and unhealthy for human life. In fact, so-called “Suginami disease” had occurred in the vicinity of a plastic compression plant. Volatile organic compounds released on the process of plastic compression there may have caused the “Suginami disease.” Although recycling of waste products is important to sustain the environment oriented society, it is unacceptable for recycling process to bring any harmful products. Some serious problems were discussed on the plastic waste recycling.
Socio-geochemistry is the science that adds humans to the constituent factors of the earth’s materials circulation system. Of course, the human activities within the system should not be for the purposes of destruction. Even if the actions are unintentional, they cannot be allowed to destroy the system or its constituent factors. Because unintended destruction emerges as a side effect, however, it is difficult to prevent by taking action beforehand. What makes that possible is human wisdom. Humans have learned from past experience and developed a method. The approach is to first take some sort of action when we see any sign of risk even though scientific uncertainty is involved, in other words, to exercise the precautionary principle. Spreading this concept throughout society is one of the goals of socio-geochemistry.
Objective. “Green Servicizing” is a business practice that does not sell goods as a product but sells only a function of goods while it could effectively reduce environmental burdens in taking the recycle process of goods into account. Incidentally, there are two types of water consumption in Catering Industry; water for drink or ingredient and water used for washing dishes or thawing frozen foods. For water consumed as the latter case, a service to economize water can be evaluated as an environment-friendly business practice. In other words, as long as the washing and thawing function is adequately served, the volume of water usage can be reduced and it lowers environmental damage through diminished water and sewage relating production. Pico-Ada Co. has introduced a water controller for commercial kitchens which effectively controls unnecessary flows of water. The main purpose of this paper is to evaluate life cycle CO2 emissions of Catering Industry with and without the water economizing equipment. Results and Discussion. Restaurants which actually install the water controller have reduced 22.6 percent of water usage in average. Because 63.2 percent of the saved water is supposed to be supplied as hot water, the water economizing equipment collaterally reduces 8 to 11 percent of water heating energy (city gas, LPG, fuel oil, etc.) usage. Considering the decrement in inputs for Catering Industry, the changes in input-output structural coefficients are transmitted across the economy and the changes in economic (production) activities affect the environment. WIO model can evaluate how much CO2 emissions the water economizing service could reduce. When every restaurant of the Catering Industry in Japan installs the water controller, 1.1 million tons of CO2 emission can be reduced annually with the consideration of increments of electric power to utilize water controllers. CO2 emissions of producing the controllers are 0.58 million tons, and those of handling the waste disposal (landfilling of water controllers) are 400 tons. For 10 years durable period, the water controllers in Catering Industry can reduce CO2 emissions by 10.0 million tons. Conclusions. The water economizing equipment which is introduced to Catering Industry has effective impacts on environment. For the first year of the water controllers installed, Catering Industry can reduce CO2 emissions in the amount greater than those caused by producing and disposing the water controllers.