Our Approach to Resources Recycling

eco ideas

Resources for our future

What comes to mind when you hear the word resources?
We use a great deal of resources in our daily lives.
Resources such as plastic, iron, and copper are used to make our everyday home appliances.
However, only a limited amount of resources remains on our planet.
Mined resources such as gold, silver, and copper, as well as fossil fuels such as oil, are becoming increasingly depleted, and moreover, their extraction results in significant environmental damage. So what actions should we take to protect our children's future?
Build up a sustainable society. This is the most important task before us.
To make careful - and repeated - use of our limited natural resources.
To enhance better recycling technologies that enable us to recycle resources from used products as much as possible.
To place maximum effort to make Resources Recycling-oriented Products from recycled resources.
Panasonic will contribute to the development of a sustainable society through such product-to-product initiatives - making effective use of our limited resources with recycling-oriented manufacturing.

Building a society that recycles resources as the norm

Resources Recycling : Make the product - Use the product - Recycle Resources

In order to achieve a sustainable society, we must propose initiatives that promote the recycling of our limited natural resources. Based on the simple product lifecycle shown below, Panasonic focuses on the development of products using recycled resources. We will make products, deliver them to our customers, and once they have eventually finished using them, we will extract the resources from the discarded products and reuse them to again make new products. Through these initiatives, Resources Recycling-oriented Products have been launched.
Such initiatives are only just beginning, but we plan to eventually expand this concept to every single product.

Why is resources recycling so important right now?

Many different resources are used to make each individual product. In addition to oil - the base ingredient of plastic - we are also heavily reliant on mined resources such as iron, copper, gold, and silver.
However, each of these resources is limited, and if we continue extracting them at the current rate, they will eventually run out completely.

Source : Mineral Commodity Summaries 2011,
BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Our approaches to recycling-oriented manufacturing

Make products from as few resources as possible. Increase the proportion of recycled resources used in the products. These are our basic approaches to recycling-oriented manufacturing. In order to reduce the amount of resources used, we are working to develop smaller, lighter product designs and to reduce the number of components in each product. Our initiatives for resources recycling also extend to a number of other areas, including the development of new recycling technologies and new ways of making products with recycled resources.

A sustainable society with you

Panasonic has launched a series of Resources Recycling-oriented Products that make significantly greater use of recycled resources.
Your use of these products completes and starts the cycle of resources recycling.
Join us in passing on limited resources for our valuable future.
Through our Resources Recycling-oriented Products, Panasonic works to build up a sustainable society with you.

Extracting as many resources as possible from used products to be reused in new products. This is the product-to-product initiatives we aim for.

Recovering resources from usedproducts

Most of the resources used to make products can be recycled. However, for recycling, we need special technologies and highlevel sorting methods. With our facility devoted to recycling, PETEC, Panasonic is promoting various initiatives to recover and reuse resources from old products.

Understanding the importance of resources recycling

Panasonic Eco Technology Center Co., Ltd. (PETEC) in Kato city, Hyogo, Japan, was opened in April 2001 as an advanced center of operations for recycling-oriented manufacturing.
Under the concept of treasure hunting, the latest recycling technologies are deployed here to recover resources from used products and to make new products. The center also actively welcomes tour groups so that more people can use the facility as a live tool for environmental education.

Resin-sorting machine at PETEC

PETEC overview

Established: April 4, 2000
Opened: April 1, 2001
Discarded units processed annually: 1.44 million (FY2010)
Annual tour visitors: 12,300 (FY2010)

Resources recycled between FY2001 and FY2010

Iron: 121,000 tons Copper: 19,000 tons
Aluminium: 10,000 tons Resin: 42,000 tons

Recovering resources from products

Used products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, CRT televisions, and flatpanel televisions are all recycled in the same sequence: Dismantling by hand -> Shredding -> Sorting -> Processing.
At PETEC, special recycling technologies have been designed to recover each individual resource (such as iron, copper, and plastic) from the used products.

Dismantling by hand -> Shredding -> Sorting -> Processing

Dismantling televisions by hand

Dismantled washing machines ready for shredding

Incorporating ideas from the recycling factory in manufacturing operations

In order to properly promote resources recycling, it is important to consider recycling issues when the products are first developed. We communicate a variety of know-how and key observations to our product development sites - covering issues such as reducing the number of components or different materials, using eco-friendly and easy-torecycle materials, and designing products for easier dismantling.

Training of design for recycling

Making new products from recycled resources

Panasonic is developing technologies to make new products from recycled resources. For example, one of our unique technologies reuses the non-leaded glass from discarded CRT televisions to make vacuum insulation materials.
We have also developed equipment to separate different plastics as well as molding technologies for reusing these plastics in new products. We will continue to develop new technologies that can reuse even more recycled resources in the future.

Recycled resources are used in these parts

We make new Resources Recycling-oriented Products from recycled resources. Recycled plastic is used to make the bodies of vacuum cleaners and rice cookers as well as the under-frames of washing machines. Meanwhile, glass wool recycled from CRT televisions is used to make vacuum insulation material for refrigerators. Click on each image to see each product introduction page.(in Japanese.)

Definitions of rechcles plastic

*1Ratio of recycled material used in glass wool for vacuum insulation material.
*2Ratio of recycled plastic (containing at least 80% recycled materials) within the plastic components used in the product.
*3Ratio of recycled plastic (containing at least 65% recycled materials) within the plastic components used in the product's body.
*4Ratio of recycled plastic (containing at least 89% recycled materials) within the plastic components used in the product's body.
*5Planned to be launched in April 2012 (Japan).

Technologies to increase the use of recycled plastics

There are many different types of plastics, such as polypropylene and polystyrene. In order to recycle and reuse mixed plastics of various resin compositions, we first need to separate out the different types. In the past, this separation was difficult to achieve with a high degree of purity. However, Panasonic has developed a highprecision resin-sorting system as a solution to this problem.
Near-infrared rays are used to identify the individual types of plastic, to separate them out into highly pure fractions, and then to recover each type.

High-precision resin-sorting system (separator process)

Mixed plastic

Technologies to make better use of recycled plastics

Panasonic is also promoting initiatives to develop more ways of using recycled plastics in new products.
With the technology of 3D in-mold decoration, we are now able to use recycled plastic materials in cosmetic applications by coating them with a layer of high extension film.

Usage example: Cyclone vacuum cleaner

Technologies to recover resources from used products

This material looks just like white cotton candy. It is actually glass wool made from the glass in discarded CRT televisions. This glass wool is then processed into 'Vacua' - a vacuum insulation material developed by Panasonic - and used in products such as refrigerators.

Glass wool made from recycled cathode ray tubes
* Planned to first used in April 2012.