Environment : Biodiversity Conservation
Approach to Biodiversity
Business management and human life in our society is founded on the ecosystem services—a multitude of nature's blessings provided by our natural capital, including soil, air, water, and animals and plants. It is important to preserve biodiversity to sustain the benefits derived from this natural capital towards the future; however, this biodiversity is experiencing significant damage at an unprecedented speed. Accordingly, corporate enterprises are now expected to address the issues of conservation and sustainable use of resources.
We are committed to properly understanding the impact of our business activities on biodiversity and contributing to conservation. To this end, we are promoting initiatives in cooperation with local governments, environmental conservation NGOs, and specialized agencies. Specifically, in 2009, we launched a biodiversity project focusing on the three key areas of land use, procurement, and products, in order to promote biodiversity conservation as an initiative incorporated into our businesses. In promoting the key areas, we formulate a biodiversity action plan (BAP), which is the basic concept of Article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and implement measures, check the achievement progress, and improve the initiatives.
Initiatives in Land Use
Green areas in our business sites can potentially contribute to conserving biodiversity in that area. In particular, hardly any natural environments where wild animals can live and breed remain in urban areas. Therefore, even small areas of green in corporate premises can become a precious environment for a variety of living organisms if they retain indigenous vegetation and a watery environment, since such areas are often closed from the outside world and hard for foreign species to blend in.
In terms of biodiversity, these green areas take on the roles of reinforcing the ecological network and protecting threatened wild fauna and flora.
Preservation of Biotopes in Collaboration with Governments and Experts
An ecological network refers to the organic relationship between ecological spaces such as the greenery and waters where a variety of creatures lives and breeds. The greenery in our sites helps expand the overall space where wild animals including birds, butterflies, and dragonflies live, as they can fly from one green area to another dotted in the area. In addition, protecting wild fauna and flora in local areas is an activity in collaboration with governments and with help and advice of experts, to preserve endangered species designated by the Ministry of the Environment or local government that are deemed to be disappearing from that area. Our business sites that promote such activities include: the Ecological Network at the Kusatsu Factory of Appliances Company in Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture; the Biotope at Eco Solutions Company in Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture; and Tsunagari no Hiroba at the PanaHome headquarters in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture.
Wide-area Ecological Network Initiative
The Kusatsu Factory of Appliances Company is the major manufacturing site of our home appliances, including refrigerators and air conditioners. Since the factory's declaration to lead the way in 'eco ideas' for products, manufacturing, and society as 'eco ideas' Factory Biwako in June 2008, it has been undertaking environmental initiatives as the group's model eco-conscious factory. In the 'eco ideas' Declaration of October 2011, the factory announced it would contribute in conserving biodiversity as its key environmental effort. Re-arranging the pond and green areas within the factory premises as the Kyozon-no-mori Forest (Forest of Coexistence) to suit the wild fauna ecology in the area, we are attempting to create an organic link with the surrounding woodlands and rivers to form a wide-area ecological network that covers Lake Biwa and the woodlands surrounding the nearby residential area.
Kusatsu Factory has been carrying out monitoring research on plants, insects, mammals, and birds since 2011. This research found that rare birds of prey listed as endangered species by the Ministry of Environment and Shiga Prefecture, such as sparrow hawks and falcons, as well as medium-sized mammals that require a large habitat, such as foxes and raccoon dogs make constant use of the factory greenery and woodlands. Through five years of monitoring, we discovered that our factory and its neighboring woodlands offer an important feeding and resting environment for these animals to survive in the community over generations.
The data obtained through this research is utilized to manage not only the Kyozon-no-mori Forest, but also other greenery within the premises. In January 2013, the factory opened Eco Roof Terrace, another green area built on the rooftop of Building W20, a seven-story building. This terrace was built based on data and research on plants, insects, and birds, and plants and trees were transplanted from the Kyozon-no-mori Forest. Despite its location on the rooftop, various insects, including negro ants, mantises (hierodula patellifera), and crickets (Nemobiinae) are living in the greenery, and birds that feed on these insects and on berries from the plants also gather here. Thus, this green roof functions as a relay point within the local ecological networks.
Kusatsu Factory of Appliances Company in Shiga Prefecture
Eco Roof Terrace: Rooftop Terrace of Local Plants
Protection of Rare Species with the Biotope and Utilization in Environmental Education
In March 2009, we built Hanei no Hiroba (Square of Affluence), an area of about 11,000 m2 of greenery in Eco Solutions Company in the Kadoma site, and a corner of the greenery was made into a biotope of 300 m2. To make the best of its location positioned between the Yodogawa River and Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park in Osaka Prefecture, we have been monitoring its living organisms following expert advice and instructions of Osaka Prefecture University from the stage of planning for the biotope. The biotope has been maintained by volunteering employees from its start. Each early spring, spot-billed ducks nest and hatch their eggs in the biotope, and the ducklings help raise the environmental awareness among employees.
In June 2012, with the proposal and instructions from the Aquatic Life Conservation Research Center of the Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, Osaka Prefecture, we introduced hemigrammocypris rasborella (a fresh water fish belonging to the carp family) and monochoria korsakowii (a marsh plant) in the biotope. The number of hemigrammocypris rasborella that had been 40 at the start grew to roughly 1,500 in September 2013 and 7,400 in September 2014. Monochoria korsakowii are also growing steadily in number. In November 2013, with the conclusion of the Osaka Partnership Agreement among Osaka Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture University, Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Panasonic, 100 Japanese Medaka fish (oryzias latipes; Ministry of the Environment & Osaka Prefectural Government endangered species) from Kita-Kawachi were newly introduced to the biotopes. The Japanese Medaka fish have also been confirmed to be growing steadily in number.
In October 2015, we invited local elementary school children to a workshop to study ecology and creatures in the biotope. We offered an opportunity for children to think about nature and the environment through learning about our biotope habitants and their lifecycles, as well as facts on endangered species.
In September 2015, the series of ecological activities by Eco Solutions Company was presented with the Osaka Environment Award 2015, hosted by the Osaka prefectural government. This award is given to an individual, non-profit organization, or company that has made significant contribution of a model activity in building an enriched environment. The company's joint environmental project with Osaka Prefecture University and the Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, Osaka Prefecture, also received the Collaboration Prize under the Osaka Environment Award 2015.
The biotope is expected to contribute to the local biodiversity and greater awareness among employees.
Nature observation in Hanei no Hiroba (Square of Affluence)
Studying killifish and golden venus chub
Studying familiar creatures
Environmental Education for Children Utilizing "Tsunagari no Hiroba"
PanaHome Corporation built a green area called Tsunagari no Hiroba (Square of Connection) within the premises of its headquarters building and opened it to the public. Tsunagari no Hiroba is a green zone designed to preserve the ecosystem network in the community, or support people unable to go home or to enable business in a major disaster, with the support of projects by Osaka Prefecture, including Green Breeze Flow Building Project and the Anti-disaster Safe Road Construction Project. The zone consists of a biotope, trees suited to the local climate and weather, a photovoltaic power generation system, a wind power generation system, etc. The name of the square reflects the concept of connecting the trust from society, including our customers and local community, to our business activities, and then further expanding it to the global environment and its future through local biodiversity conservation.
In February 2014, the company followed the Eco Solutions Company in signing the Osaka Partnership Agreement on Biodiversity with Osaka Prefecture, Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture University, and the Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Tsunagari no Hiroba offers hands-on environmental workshops to local elementary school children. In this workshop, children catch killifish and golden venus chub with a net and study the fish while listening to explanations on their ecology. The children learn about biological diversity and endangered species, along with the role and necessity of biotopes. We hold this workshop as an opportunity for the children to think about how they can protect nature through their own actions. At the end of the workshop, each child makes a "Nature Protection Declaration," in which they describe what they will do to protect living creatures, and then they release the caught fish as they recite their declarations to the fish. The textbook is made for the workshop and our employees serve as lecturers.
In recognition of these efforts, our comprehensive ecological workshops held in Tsunagari no Hiroba and its neighboring Sumai to Kurashi no Jyohokan - Senri (House and Lifestyle Information Center, Senri) were presented with the 9th Kids Design Award (in the Designs to Create the Future of Children - Education and Understanding category) hosted by the Kids Design Association. These workshops also received the Biodiversity Action Grand Prize 2015 from the Japan Committee of the UNDB (United Nations Decade on Biodiversity) in November 2015, and were nominated for the Japanese Nature Conservation Grand Prize of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan in February 2016.
Kids Design Award
This is an award system to promote and realize the philosophy of designs for children-for example, designs that contribute to children's safety and security, designs that enhance children's creativity and future, and designs to encourage parenthood. The awards cover not only products and services for children, but those for adults, including products, facilities, activity programs, and research activities that demonstrate a high level of consideration for children. Items and activities that receive awards are permitted to bear the Kids Design mark.
Tsunagari no Hiroba
Hands-on environmental workshop
Acquisition and Upgrade of External Certification Based on Quantitative Evaluation
In October 2010, the Matsumoto Factory of the Automotive & Industrial Systems Company became the first factory green space in Japan to obtain the JHEP Certification (future prospect type), which is based on the biodiversity quantitative evaluation method developed by the Ecosystem Conservation Society - Japan. The Factory was certified as a business site with prospective contributions to biodiversity in terms of creating a suitable environment that encourages habitation for local wildlife.
Since then, the formulation of the factory green space management policy was combined with diligent conservation efforts such as changing lawn into sawgrass, placing of deadwood, and replacing trees of foreign origin, resulting in an increase in reproduction levels for birds and butterflies. Confirmation of these concrete results led to an upgrade in the evaluation ranking to Level A in September 2015, which was the year for certification renewal. The upgrade in ranking not only recognizes our biodiversity conservation effect objectively, but also holds great significance for further development of our efforts.
Deadwood planted in forests
The Common Five-Ring (Ypthima argus) identified at the plant
Efforts in Procurement
In an effort to address biodiversity conservation and sustainability, we consulted extensively with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Japan and formulated Panasonic Group Green Procurement Guidelines for Wood. In fiscal 2016, the total procurement of timber and wood materials was measured at approx. 360,000 m3. By category, this breaks down to 79.6% meeting Category 1 "Priority" procurement standards (a 2.7-point year-on-year decrease), 20.4% in Category 2 "Acceptable" (a 2.7-point year-on-year increase), and 0% in Category 3 "Avoiding" (same as previous year).
Since the establishment of the Procurement Guideline, efforts to achieve zero procurement for Category 3 have been implemented; it was realized for the first time in fiscal 2015, and was maintained also in fiscal 2016. We will continue our efforts and maintain zero procurement for Category 3.
Implementation of Consistent PDCA, Achievement Check, and Measure Review
In green procurement for wood, we implement the PDCA cycle based on development of the annual plan, and confirm the progress status at the end of the fiscal year as well as review the measures for the subsequent fiscal year. We are also engaged in the reduction of the use of natural raw materials, from the perspective of preserving timber resources. Flooring materials (woody flooring material) Fit Floor Natural Wood Type (heat resistant & non-heat resistant) and Fit Floor (heat resistant & non-heat resistant) use "Fit Board," our unique new material made of 100% recycled wood material (excluding adhesives).
Fit Floor Natural Wood Type (heat resistant & non-heat resistant) & Fit Floor (heat resistant & non-heat resistant)
Initiatives in Products
Together with the NGO BirdLife International, we have established a third-party assessment system to provide customers with information about product contributions to biodiversity. Through this system, we have assessed products which are closely linked to biodiversity.
We have also enhanced our accreditation criteria by adding biodiversity to the existing items. We define products that contribute to biodiversity conservation as those that use biodiversity-conscious materials in their major components and those that include functions to help biodiversity conservation.
In fiscal 2014, Panasonic Environmental Systems & Engineering Co., Ltd. developed ATPS-BLUEsys, a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) to reduce disturbance from maritime transportation of the marine ecology of local sea areas. Ballast water is sea water used to retain the balance of a freight vessel at sea when it is not carrying shipment.
Because the ship travels across the sea taking sea water from one port and then draining the water into another port, the impact of foreign organisms such as plankton and bacteria on the local ecology, environment, and resources is becoming an increasingly serious problem. ATPS-BLUEsys treats microorganisms in the water with inline electrolysis without using filters, which is the first in Japan. The system can treat the water to a level lower than the standards by the International Maritime Organization IMO), and successfully acquired the IMO G9 Basic Approval (G9BA).
Collaboration with NGOs and NPOs through the Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation
We collaborate with NGOs and NPOs through the Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation, in an effort to promote biodiversity conservation on a global scale as well as in coordination with the industrial sector.
The Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation is an organization consisting of more than 110 Keidanren member enterprises that are actively involved in nature protection and biodiversity conservation. Since its establishment in 1992, it has been engaged in supporting NGO efforts in nature conservation, promoting exchanges between business enterprises and NGOs, promoting awareness of nature protection and biodiversity among businesses, and supporting the efforts in the Tohoku region to recover from the earthquake disaster through the restoration of nature.
Through corporate and private donations to the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, including donations from Panasonic, support worth a cumulative total of approx. 3.6 billion yen has been donated as of fiscal 2016 to 1,214 NGO projects in Japan and other countries.
In addition to donating and participating in projects promoted by the Committee, we fulfill our responsibility to ensure solid implementation of these projects through on-site inspections, etc. In fiscal 2016, we participated in the Tohoku Region recovery support project implemented in September. At the Tsunami Memorial Park Nakanohama opened by the Ministry of the Environment in May 2014, we are contributing to preserve biodiversity through planting mainly local flora and working on plantation area management activities. We have also been engaged in the protection of rare species (such as Monochoria korsakowii (oval-leafed pondweed), which is classified by the Nature Conservation Society of Japan as a near-threatened species by the Ministry of the Environment) in the fallow fields of Sanriku-cho in Iwate Prefecture, and conducted investigation on the state of recovery of seagrass meadows and inspection on oyster farms by the NPO organization Mori wa Umi no Koibito of Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture.
Despite the fact that nature conservation activities are an area in biodiversity conservation that is difficult for companies to be directly involved in, solid actions are possible through collaboration with industry associations and through support for NGOs and NPOs. We will continue contributing to conservation of the ecosystem through continuous participation in these initiatives in the future.
Weeding at Tsunami Memorial Park Nakanohama
Conservation of Rare Species in Coordination with Citizens Groups
Companies, the labor union and the retiree association under the Panasonic Group in Japan unify the Panasonic ECO RELAY Japan (PERJ) and implement various nature conservation activities.
Itasenpara (Acheilognathus longipinnis), a fish that is the symbol of the Yodogawa River, is designated a protected species and rare wildlife species in Japan. PERJ is participating in the Citizens Network for Itasenpara in the Yodogawa River System (nicknamed Itasen-net), which is working to conserve and recover biodiversity in the Yodogawa River System and work for the return of Itasenpara to the wild.
Established in 2011, the Itasen-net works in coordination with Panasonic and other business enterprises as well as administrative authorities, research institutes, universities, NPOs, and citizens groups, and implements activities including investigation and eradication of non-native species as well as riverbank cleaning. These activities won the Minister of the Environment Prize in the 17th Japan Water Prize organized by the Japan Water Prize Committee and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. PERJ will continue collaboration for activities to preserve the Itasenpara and biodiversity for the Yodogawa River System.
Investigation of non-native fish with beach seine