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In February 2012, under the concept of “product to product,” we launched the “Resources Recycling-oriented Products” series, which uses resources extracted from used products. This series consists of four major Panasonic products: refrigerators, washing/drying machines, vacuum cleaners, and rice cookers. Glass wool (glass fiber) recycled from cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions is used to make vacuum insulation material for our refrigerators. We also utilize plastics that are recovered at our recycling plants, such as those recovered from refrigerators and air conditioners, to manufacture new washing/drying machines, vacuum cleaners, and rice cookers.
Furthermore, an air-conditioning unit using recycled plastic was introduced in October 2012. Polystyrene (PS) recovered from used home appliances are processed for reuse and used in the filter frame for air-conditioning units.
Glass makes up about 60% of the total weight of CRT TVs. Until recently, the part of the recycled CRT of TVs was reused to create new CRT TVs. However, with the rapid shift to flat-panel TVs and the end of analog broadcasting, demand for CRT TVs have fallen dramatically, reducing the recovery value of CRTs.
We launched a proprietary reprocessing technology that converts glass from used CRT TVs into glass wool fibers to make the vacuum insulation materials for refrigerators. First, a laser is used to remove the CRT from recovered TVs, and after crushing and dry scrubbing, the glass is transformed into cullets (bits of glass). The cullets are then melted at once in a temperature exceeding 1,000°C and subjected to micro-fabrication of approx. 4 µm. Reusable glass wool is created at the end of this process. This is the first case for a home appliance manufacturer in Japan to recycle CRTs for use in the production of other home appliances.
As part of the drive to utilize PET bottle caps as a recyclable resource, we are engaged in the Eco Cap Activity.
This activity is underway at about 80 sites in our Group, and the caps from used PET bottles are being gathered at collection boxes within each site. White polypropylene (PP) is extracted from the collected caps and processed to gain a strength and quality same to that of new materials. This is used as a vegetable chamber sealing plate inside refrigerators.
Vegetable chamber sealing plate inside refrigerators
Refrigerator NR-F557T equipped by the vegetable chamber sealing plate
In June 2012, a group of household kitchen and bathroom products using plant-derived plastic was introduced for the first time in the industry.*1
In the past, the use of plant-derived plastic had been difficult for such products, since they require outstanding durability and water resistance. Using our own composite technology, we succeeded in creating plant-derived plastic with a uniform constitution and high density cross-linked structure that excels in water resistance. With the strong resistance of such plastic parts to water penetration, they are now as resistant to wear and identical in product performance to existing products.
The plant-derived plastic is being used in the rim of the A·La·Uno S toilet, a sink counter top for the C Line and M Line bathroom sink series, artificial marble (printed counter top) material for the Living Station kitchen system, and as a ceiling sheet material for the Cococino bathroom system. The use rate is currently at 2–5% but is expected to rise in the future.
A·La·Uno S toilet CH1101
C Line bathroom sink standard type
Panasonic is one of the leading companies to use recycled plastics. Panasonic Environmental Technology Solutions Co., Ltd. distributes recycled plastics mainly from air-conditioners, TVs, refrigerators and washing machines. Total use of plastics in fiscal 2012 for washing machines and refrigerators was 35,786 tons, including 4,392 tons of post-consumer recycled plastics, the ratio of which was approx. 12%. We aim to use more than 6,000 tons of recycled plastics mainly in our home appliance products including washing machines and refrigerators in fiscal 2013.