Fumio Kaneko, the cofounder and president of Daiei Kankyo, a waste management and recycling company based in Kobe, has become Japan’s newest billionaire with a net worth of $1 billion.
The company went public in December 2022, raising $315 million and listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Prime Market. Since then, the stock has risen by nearly 30%.
The 66-year-old founded Daiei Kankyo in 1979 with three business partners to manage waste in Osaka Prefecture’s Izumi city. Despite facing initial resistance from local residents, they convinced the local government to approve the construction of a permanent disposal site capable of handling nine different types of waste. That site has since been turned into a public park.
One of the company’s defining moments was in 1995 when the Great Hanshin Awaji earthquake struck, causing massive damage in Kobe and Osaka. Daiei Kankyo ended up handling a third of all the earthquake waste, which put a strain on their finances but helped establish their credentials in the waste management business.
Daiei Kankyo has expanded into recycling waste, generating power, soil remediation, and forest conservation. Their services now include waste collection, sorting, crushing, and final disposal across 61 facilities in five Prefectures with a total capacity of 31.8 million cubic meters as of December last year.
The company also operates waste biomass and biogas power generation plants and supplies heat to a hotel in Iga City for its natural hot spring facility. They even produce renewable energy through solar power generation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to Daiei Kankyo’s success, as the demand for waste management services has increased as a result of the pandemic. As the pandemic wanes and the world moves towards recovery, it is likely that demand for these services will continue to grow.