From Factory Scraps to Fun: Gachapon Capsules Get a Sustainable Makeover

A new initiative in Sakai City is turning factory scraps into toys for gachapon capsules, including leather and metal remnants and non-standard vegetables.

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Sakai City in Osaka Prefecture launched a new project using gachapon capsule machines. But these gachapon are like no other. The toys inside the capsules are made from scraps and remnants of industrial manufacturing. This initiative has found another method of upcycling – adding value to waste materials. The city aims to make the initiative a part of its efforts to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Keychains and Veggie Paints

The current lineup of capsule toys includes five types. The first is a coin case made from scrap leather. Next are incense stands crafted from scraps generated in steel manufacturing. The "tatami bars" offer the fresh fragrance of scrap tatami mats, and mushroom leather keychains are made from leftover mushroom mycelium. Finally, the veggie paints are made from non-standard vegetables that were destined for disposal.

Items included in gachapon capsules include tatami bars shaped like ice-cream bars, paints in little containers and angular metal incense stands.
Five types of products made from material remnants. (Photo by Yusuke Kizu)

In the spring of 2023, the head of Sakai City's Tokyo Office came up with the gachapon idea. He was contemplating how to utilize industrial scraps and thought gachapon was the perfect way to appeal to children. 

Collaborating with both local companies and those in the Tokyo area, the city made the project a reality. While Sakai City provides the Gachapon machines, proceeds from sales are returned to the companies that produce the items.

One spin of the gachapon machine is 500 yen. Machines were installed on a trial basis at an April event held at the Across Mall Senboku in the city. Visitors seem to enjoy them.

Mayor Nagafuji holding a gachapon capsule and standing next to a gachapon machine.
Mayor Hideki Nagafuji after spinning the scrap gachapon machine on April 9 in Sakai City. (©Sankei by Yusuke Kizu)

Going forward, the city plans to install the gachapon machines at events in the Tokyo metropolitan area and shopping malls within Sakai City. Eventually, they hope to scale out the initiative to upcycle remnant industrial materials nationwide. 

Sakai City is currently seeking businesses interested in installing gachapon machines or developing products to be featured in gachapon capsules.

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