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The global environmental issues pose significant challenges on sustainability of our planet earth, human beings and biodiversity. The proposition of us living in the twenty-first century is to squarely face up to the global environment issues and to accelerate seeking a solution to them.
Based on the recognition of such challenges, Panasonic's activities to solve resource problems should be promoted as well as an approach towards low carbon. We will pursue thorough resources saving in manufacturing and will promote resources recycling in all supply chains with which we are involved.
Recycling of used products is positioned as one of resources recycling activities. Panasonic supports IPR (Individual Producer Responsibility) as the ultimate and ideal way to promote recycling. There are various challenges by each country and region, so there should be a case that phased approach is needed. We will discuss well with stakeholders in each society and develop the most efficient recycling scheme which is suitable to the real situation of each country.
Actually Panasonic has contributed to the development of Home Appliance Recycling Law in Japan, which includes many aspects of IPR. In Europe, we established ENE EcologyNet Europe GmbH (ENE) to collect and recycle End-of-Life products appropriately with high quality recyclers. In the US, we are responding to states with e-waste law and providing nationwide voluntary take-back program through Electric Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC (MRM), which Panasonic played a leadership role in founding. We will focus on manufacturing products with higher recyclability and development of recycling technology, and continue to contribute to forming a recycling-oriented society.
Japan: Recycled approx. 113 thousand tons of four kinds of home appliances
Europe: Collected approx. 48 thousand tons of used electronic products
USA: Collected approx. 21 thousand tons of used electronic products
In response to the Home Appliance Recycling Law of 2001, which covers four specified kinds of home appliances, we established Ecology Net Co., Ltd. jointly with Toshiba Corporation, which manages a geographically dispersed recycling network through the effective use of existing recycling facilities nationwide. The recycling management company operates all the recycling-related services, which includes supervising 373 designated collection sites and 36 recycling facilities, on behalf of the “Group A” manufacturers (22 companies including Panasonic). Our recycling factories, Panasonic Eco Technology Center Co., Ltd. (PETEC) and Panasonic Eco Technology Kanto Co., Ltd. (PETECK), conduct unique research to improve our recycling processes for more efficient treatment of the four kinds of home appliances*1 and for the recovery and supply of more resources. In fiscal 2013, we recycled approx. 113 thousand tons of the four specified home appliances.
Prior to the enforcement of the WEEE Directive in Europe in August 2005, Ecology Net Europe Gmbh (ENE) was established by Panasonic in Germany in April of that year to build a high-quality and efficient recycling system in cooperation with a number of outstanding recycling companies. In March 2013, ElekSa was established in Wiesbaden as our site for collecting used electronic products, in an effort to further increase collection volumes.
ENE has now acquired a patent on an efficient LCD panel cutting method, developed jointly with our recycling partners. This technology is expected to cut down LCD panel TV disassembly time, and efforts are currently underway towards practical implementation.
In 2012, we collected approx. 48 thousand tons*2 of used products covered by the WEEE Directive.
ENE's own collection site ElekSa established in Germany
Following the start-up of the state recycling law in the state of Minnesota in July 2007, we established Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC (MRM), jointly with Toshiba Corporation and Sharp Corporation in September of the same year, and began recycling TVs, PCs, and other electronics. With collaborative ties to nine recycling companies, each with a nationwide network, we are running a recycling program that covers the entire United States. At more than 1,800 collection bases, Panasonic collected approx. 21 thousand tons*3 of used electronic products in 2012.
In September 2012, we participated in a program run by the US Environmental Protection Agency aimed at optimizing recycling, known as the Sustainable Material Management Challenge, and declared that 100% of used products collected will be recycled by third-party certified recyclers within three years. At present, 97% of our recycling service contractors have acquired third-party certification, and the figure is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2013.
The Regulation for the Management of Recycling and Disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Products was enforced in January 2011. Under this regulation, we established a joint recycling company in Hangzhou in November 2011 named Panasonic DADI DOWA Summit Recycling Hangzhou Co., Ltd., with Hangzhou DADI Environmental Protection Engineering Co., Ltd., DOWA Holdings Co., Ltd., and Sumitomo Corporation, and its operation is to start by the end of 2013. Based on the methods of advanced and practical technology and a contemporary control system that have been developing within the recycling industry in Japan for more than a decade, our new company will engage in the collection, disassembly, and sales of recycled materials extracted from used appliances in accordance with the above regulation with the aim of becoming an advanced model for home appliance recycling in China. Through these efforts, the company will contribute to environmental conservation and the effective use of resources in the country.
Main entrance of Panasonic DADI DOWA Summit Recycling Hangzhou Co., Ltd.
An increasing number of countries are moving toward legislation governing recycling also in the Asia Pacific region.
In conjunction with the enforcement of a recycling law in India in May 2012, we have built a network of collection sites using brand shops and authorized service centers.
Following the enforcement of relevant laws in Australia in July 2012, we are engaged in recycling activities through a take-back recycling scheme that covers appliances including TVs and PCs.
In Singapore, we are cooperating with retailers and recycling companies to support the recycling efforts led by the local government.
Similarly, we are continuing to talk with the governments and industrial sectors of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand towards having optimized legislation in the area.
It is important to recover resources from used products as much as possible to expand usage of recycled resources. For this reason, we are working together with related divisions inside the company to develop and introduce more efficient recycling systems at our recycling plants.
In order to increase the volume of high-purity resources recovered, PETECK*4 expanded its recycling facility with additional construction in March 2013.
Specifically, the high-precision resin sorting system introduced at PETEC was expanded to increase recovery of high-purity resources. A new material recycling building was built, with a urethane fuel conversion facility which enables the urethane used for refrigerator insulation to be converted into high-calorie fuel. Also, a small grinding and sorting line was installed, where aluminum and copper composite parts such as air conditioning heat exchangers are processed for more recovery and effective use of materials.
High-precision resin sorting system additionally installed at PETECK
Resources recycling building newly built at PETECK
Represented by the CFC-free refrigerator and the tilted drum washing machine, home appliances are evolving and the structures and materials used in products are changing year by year. Similarly, it is important for recycling plants to adapt to these changes with versatility and engage in efficient material recycling.
Because of the use of various types of fluorocarbons in refrigerants and insulation material foaming, sorting is necessary before placing refrigerators into the processing line. PETEC renovated its refrigerator line in fiscal 2012 to enable mixed input without sorting, resulted in a reduction in line switching time and man-hours.
Chubu Eco Technology (CETEC)*5 built a new plant in fiscal 2013. Equipped with lines dedicated for CFC-free refrigerators and washing machines, the time required to switch between products to be processed and the time for processing tilted drum washing machines have been dramatically reduced.
New refrigerator line at PETEC
New plant at CETEC