Discarded fireworks bring summer memories to children


We would like to introduce Miyako Airport's heartwarming initiative to contribute to the local community and children by utilizing discarded fireworks at the airport.

Beautiful scenery of Miyako Island

Miyako Island is located approximately 300 km southwest of Okinawa Island and 130 km east-northeast of Ishigaki Island. The island has a hot and humid subtropical oceanic climate, with relatively warm winters and an average annual temperature of 23.7℃, making it relatively temperate throughout the four seasons. Miyako Airport is located in the center of the island, providing easy access to tourist spots and the city center, and is used by approximately 1.35 million travelers annually. Especially from spring to summer, many tourists visit the island.

Many tourists who come to the island purchase fireworks at convenience stores and DIY stores on Miyako Island to make memories during their stay and enjoy the summer tradition. However, fireworks are classified as explosives as listed in the "Typical Examples of Dangerous Goods in Carry-on and Checked Baggage" prepared by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism based on the Aviation Law and international rules determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). As they are classified as explosives, all types of fireworks, from large rocket fireworks to small sparklers, are prohibited from being checked in or carried on board the plane. Therefore, fireworks cannot be brought home and must be disposed of at the airport, and the amount of fireworks disposed of is higher than at other airports.

The amount of restricted items voluntarily discarded at Miyako Airport, including other restricted items such as knives, amounts to about 100 kg per year. Scissors and cutters are the most common items among the discarded items, and Miyako Airport has been donating them to an elementary school through a local NPO. On the other hand, a certain amount of fireworks discarded every year were becoming expensive to dispose of as industrial waste. In response to this situation, Mr. Tomari of ANA Okinawa Airport started an initiative to reuse discarded fireworks from the perspective of the SDGs.

Mr. Tomari is mainly in charge of administration and management of operations. As part of his duties, he is responsible for sorting out scissors and other items that could be donated from discarded items. This was the beginning of his thinking, "Isn't there any other way to make better use of these items?" Then he focused on fireworks, which are disposed of in large quantities every year. From there, he contacted recycling companies and others to find a way to safely use fireworks. After considering the safety management of fireworks because they contain gunpowder, he came to an agreement to use them at the Children's Mirai Festival, held by "Okinawa Children's Future Creative Support Organization" (*).

The Okinawa Children's Future Creative Support Organization is a non-profit general incorporated association established for the purpose of providing childcare support activities, as well as the inheritance of local nature, history, and traditional culture, and to help children grow up healthy with dreams for the future.


Mr. Tomari, Miyako airport, Okinawa, ANA

Mr. Tomari
Mr. Tomari works at the airport counter.
Mr. Tomari working at his desk.
Please describe the atmosphere and features of Miyako Airport.

Because it's quite compact, all staff members are usually involved in operations in cooperation with each other, and the greatest feature of Miyako Airport is that we can take on various challenges with a sense of unity in a speedy manner. We are committed to "one person, one piece, one flight" and strive for information sharing and smooth communication across departmental boundaries so that we can achieve the best performance through the best teamwork.

What are your feelings about this initiative?

We decided to implement this project because we thought that it would be better to give fireworks to children through welfare organizations on Miyako Island rather than dispose of them as they are, since they cannot be checked in as cargo or carried on board. We also asked Japan Transocean Air Co., Ltd., to join us in this project, and by working together, we were able to jointly donate more fireworks. It was a valuable experience for us to feel a sense of unity at Miyako Airport, including other companies. I have always wanted to work more on the SDGs in my work, and I feel that this time it has finally come to fruition. At first, it was my own idea and inspiration, but as I took action, I met various people and received advice, which led me to this project. I have realized once again that even small efforts can contribute to the local community and the SDGs, and I would like to continue working hard on this project in the future.

Mr. Shinjo of Okinawa Children's Future Creative Support Organization

Mr. Shinjo during the interview
Mr. Shinjo talking with children at the "Children's Walk" event
The exterior of Miyakojima City Hirara Children's Center
Please let us know how the fireworks were distributed at the event.

The fireworks donated through this project were used at the "Children's Mirai Festival," which was held for the first time in many years. Since we received a variety of fireworks, we sorted them in advance so that children could safely enjoy various types of fireworks, taking into consideration the characteristics of fireworks and the target ages of the children. We also informed the children in advance that the distribution of fireworks would end as soon as they ran out, on a first-come, first-served basis. On the day of the event, children started lining up long before the distribution time, and the line was so long that we had to guide them to the line. The distribution was over in about 10 minutes after the start of distribution. We could see many happy smiles on their faces. We were also able to hear the children's impressions of the fireworks when they came the next day as well. They seemed to have excitedly brought home fireworks and enjoyed them as soon as possible that day. I was happy to hear that they were so pleased with the fireworks.

Please tell us about your job.

The Miyakojima Hirara Children's Center, where I serve as the director, mainly welcomes children from various backgrounds, ranging from elementary school students to junior high and high school students. Some of them are economically disadvantaged, and some are economically privileged but neglected. Of particular concern is that economically disadvantaged children are culturally impoverished. For example, smartphones have penetrated various generations, but economically disadvantaged children are not able to have them, and in some cases, they are left out of information and lack IT literacy. We are working daily through trial and error to provide children who may be vulnerable to this trend with a variety of positive experiences.

What did you think when you were approached about the fireworks donation?

When I was approached about this project, I felt that fireworks would be a good tool. I wanted children to experience the happy memories of summer that I had experienced, and I also hoped that when they grew up, it would be an experience that they could share with the next generation. As a side note, it was actually a new discovery that many more children had never experienced fireworks than I had expected.

Also, unlike corporate sponsorships, there was a story behind the donation, which we explained to the children while distributing and hoped it would lead to a change in their awareness. We hope that the children will grow up feeling a sense of social interest and connection.

What were your impressions through this initiative?

First of all, I was surprised about how much fireworks are in the discarded products! The staff and volunteers involved in the summer festival, as well as the parents who came to the festival on the day of distribution, were all amazed. I myself learned for the first time that fireworks cannot be checked in as cargo or brought on board. It was a realization that there are probably a large number of people not knowing about it and result in such a large amount of waste. While the discarded fireworks bring smiles to the children's faces, I also felt the need to be aware of the importance of not generating waste.

Through the interview, we were able to hear about their plans to continue this initiative and develop it into other initiatives in the future. We would like to feature their next initiatives as well, so please stay tuned for more information.

We value the awareness of each and every one of our employees and are committed to contributing to the local community.