Environment: Further Proactive Actions

Our stance on PVC, our stance on brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and our stance on Lead (Pb) within plasma display panels (PDPs) all highlight Panasonic’s outstanding commitment to the environment. Indeed, our actions on Pb in PDPs, substitution of PVC internal wiring, and elimination of BFR in notebooks and mobile phones demonstrate that our commitment to environmental protection often go beyond the stringent requirements of even our own substance guidelines.

Lead free Plasma Display Panels used in Panasonic PDP Televisions

Panasonic is the first company in the world to achieve the elimination of lead (Pb) in Plasma Display Panels (PDPs) used as the central picture component in its Plasma TVs and Plasma Modules. In this specific case, the use of lead in PDPs was exempt from legislation because no alternative technology existed. But Panasonic persevered and found an alternative.

In conventional manufacturing processes for PDPs, lead oxide glass is used as a key component for the dielectric layer, electrodes, seal frit and other structural elements to form the panel. Until now, lead oxide glass was the only viable technology for this, and as such was exempted under the European RoHS Directive.

Nonetheless, Panasonic dedicated staff and resources to identifying an alternative. In 2006 we finalised our transfer to our new Pb-free alternative, and in November that year, we announced that all Panasonic PDP TVs would use only lead-free plasma display panels.

PVC-free

We have put the following 100% PVC-free models of products*1 on the market (as of the end of June 2013).

List of Our PVC-free Products (as of the end of June 2013)

PVC-free Product Description Model Numbers
Cellular phone P-02E, and 5 other models
Ventilating fan FY-17C7, and 28 other models
Blood pressure monitor EW-BW50, and 5 other models
Men's shaver ES6500, and 4 other models
Nail polisher ES-WC20, and 1 other model
Pedicure care heel buffer ES2502
Toothbrush EW-DS15
Nose hair trimmer ER-GN10, and 2 other models
Ear hair trimmer ER402
Baby hair trimmer ER3300
Household body composition balance monitor EW-FA71, and 1 other model
Eyelash curler EH-SE50, and 5 other models
Ladies shaver ES2235, and 2 other models
Epilator ES2011, and 2 other models
Facial trimmer ES2105, and 5 other models
Step counter EW-NK52, and 2 other models
Low-frequency muscle stimulator EW-NA11
Electric inhaler EW-KA30
LED panel display unit LNP193074, and 3 other models
Office/business lighting equipment LGBJ71000, and 2 other models
Earth leakage breaker BKS23020NT
Time switch/box type TB311, and 1 other model
Ballast cabinet BNDE4101VN
Network adapter BNZY8210NA
Fiber to the home system AD-F1108/AD-F1211
Optical feeder AMPlifier EA-WD0DL210
Multi-branch repeater AD-4607RULEA
Evolved node base station system EA-B1BDE
PCS (1.9GHz) RRH (TX25MHz) EA-L19RHAA0
Underground optical feeder system EA-WEBASAA
800MHz transceiver duplexer unit EA-L80TRA70/80
Multi-drop optical feeder EA-WFBASAA
AWS(2.1GHz/1.7GHz) transceiver duplexer unit EA-LAWTRAA0
LED flash module LNU000103B, and 1 other model
  • *1 Excluding a resin binder containing PVC-vinyl acetate copolymer (ink, etc.). In refering to "PVC-free" here , a main body of each model is covered , and some of the peripheral accessories contain PVC.

Brominated Flame Retardant-free

Also, although halogenated flame retardants are currently essential to protect consumers and to minimise the risk of flammability in some electronic products, we are investigating ways to replace them wherever possible.

Our Components & Devices business group is already manufacturing halogen-free printed wiring boards for certain applications and markets.

Additionally, we have already begun to produce BFR-free products, where it is viable to do so. The table below provides an example of our 100% BFR-free products.

BFR-free Product Description Model Numbers
Fluorescent ceiling lamp HFA0710C

In environmental impact assessment, impacts of hazardous substances which are emitted from components containing highly-concentrated brominated flame retardants in inappropriate treatment for collecting rare metals from disposed products such as burning off the field are concerned. On the other hand, although several materials to substitute brominated flame retardants which are used to prevent from fire accidents are developed, some of them are concerned to potentially have impacts to the environment. Panasonic will discontinue the use of brominated flame retardants in case that substitution has become technologically and social-economically available with ensuring product safety.

Phthalates-free and Antimony-free

Some researchers have suggested that phthalate compounds may have toxicity on reproductivity yet a risk assessment report by a Japanese research institute does not recognize such hazard actively. And phthalates are not currently prohibited under any law that applies to chemical substances used in electronics products. In our assessment of environmental impact, Panasonic couldn’t detect the elution of phthalates from materials and components containing PVC, such as coating of cables used in electrical and electronic products, and impacts to human health tabulated from a detection limit did not reach a level of concern. However, some phthalate compounds are prohibited under the toy directives in EU according to the precautionary principles. Since phthalate is mainly used as softeners in flexible PVC plastic, we are trying to reduce or eliminate it for all products by promoting PVC reduction activities.

Antimony is currently essential to protect consumers and to minimise the risk of flammability in some electronic products by using as the anti-flammability assisting agent, primarily as antimony trioxide because it can enhance BFR’s flame-retardant effect.

As explained above, we are trying to create more BFR-free products, and we will continue to reduce an amount of Antimony use with the BFR elimination activities.

Regarding beryllium, concerns to the hazards of beryllium come from the hazardousness of beryllium oxide. Though some spring materials that Panasonic uses contain beryllium copper alloy, no Panasonic product contains beryllium oxide.

Despite our ongoing reviews for potential substitutes for beryllium copper alloy, we have yet to find a feasible substitute in that beryllium copper is effective in promoting eco-consciousness through lighter and smaller products. However, only a few manufacturers produce beryllium copper alloy in the world. We understand that beryllium oxide, which is the substance that causes pulmonary berylliosis, is used as a raw material but is produced in a closed process and poses no risks of exposure.

A short note on notebooks and mobile phones

Panasonic does not produce or sell desk-top computers, but only notebooks. With regards to mobile phones, Panasonic sells mobile phones in Japan, and recently started the business in India.

PVC-free

Panasonic started to sell entirely PVC-free notebook computers (excluding separate AC cord), in April 2007 in Japan. For mobile phones, all of our mobile phones have been PVC-free (excluding internal wiring in a charger) from FY2005 models and still are in the Japanese market.

Furthermore, it is Panasonic’s intention to sell only 100% PVC-free notebook computers (including all AC cords etc) as soon as technically possible. We had a plan to achieve this for new computer models entering the Japanese market in 2009 and by the end of 2011 in the rest of the world (assuming there is no detrimental effect on product quality). While we have already successfully introduced models with a PVC-free main body, the development of PVC-free AC cords has been yet to be realized due to a technological issue, and it is still under way.

A list of 100% PVC-free products which are currently in markets as of June, 2012 is shown in the table above.

BFR-free

Panasonic has been diligently investigating BFR-free alternatives for our notebook computers and mobile phones. With regard to the specific brominated flame retardants, PBB and PBDE (including Deca-BDE), we have eliminated them in these products since October 2005.

And it was our intention to eliminate all remaining BFRs in a new model of mobile phones and all new models of notebooks by the end of 2011 (assuming there are no detrimental effects on the product quality)

As a result of our thorough efforts after setting these targets, Panasonic released a BFR-free model of notebook PCs, CF-B11, and that of mobile phones, P-02D (end of production now), respectively (excluding accessories and components which are difficult to substitute due to product quality and procurement reasons).

Panasonic never compromises on consumers’ safety during the use of our products. In order to secure flame resistance and durability, which are the integral features of the product quality, we have been operating a stringent internal standard. As of now, Panasonic does not find BFR-free substitutes of some parts and components to meet our internal standard due to product quality and procurement reasons. This is why there still have to remain some BFR-containing parts and components in our mobile phones and notebooks. However, we intend to eliminate all BFRs as soon as we successfully identify alternatives.

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