Global Initiatives for Used Product Recycling

Aiming toward the effective use of natural resources and the prevention of environmental pollution, a growing number of recycling laws have been enacted in various countries throughout the world. Examples include the Law for Recycling of Specified Kinds of Home Appliances (Home Appliance Recycling Law) and the Act on the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources in Japan, the WEEE Directive in the European Union, and recycling laws in many states in the United States. In China as well, a similar law has taken effect. In addition to complying with the Basel Convention which controls the transfer of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries as well as with related laws in respective countries, we strive to establish the most efficient recycling system in each country in view of its local recycling infrastructure including the utilization of third-parties.

Product recycling results in fiscal 2017 are as shown below. Because the collected products are becoming more compact and lighter due to less volume of collection and recycling of CRT TVs and more flat screen TVs, and because the volume of collection and recycling has decreased due to reforms of business areas in respective countries, the weight is in a flat or downward trend.

FY2017 Results

Japan Processed approx. 138,620 tons of four kinds of home appliances
Europe Collected approx. 30,000 tons of used electronic products
USA Collected approx. 2,426 tons of used electronic products

Product Recycling Initiatives in Japan

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 343 designated collection sites (shared with "Groups A and B") and 30 recycling facilities, on behalf of the "Group A" manufacturers (18 companies including Panasonic). Our recycling factories, Panasonic Eco Technology Center Co., Ltd. (PETEC), Panasonic Eco Technology Kanto Co., Ltd. (PETECK), and Chubu Eco Technology Co., Ltd. (CETEC)*1 conduct unique research to improve our recycling processes for more efficient treatment of the four kinds of home appliances*2 and for the recovery and supply of more resources. In fiscal 2017, we processed approx. 138,620 tons of the four specified home appliances.

Amendment of the Home Appliance Recycling Law was considered in 2014 in order to make recycling fees clearer and lower, as well as to improve recycling rates.*3 As a result, the statutory recycling rate*4 was revised in April 2015.

Panasonic recycling factories are working to further enhance resource recycling by improving the productivity and recycling rates through efforts of applying different recycling methods according to the characteristics and materials of products.

PETECK has developed and put into practical use a space-saving, low-cost compact crushing and sorting system, aiming to efficiently sort air conditioner heat exchangers into single materials. The system can crush heat exchangers in indoor and outdoor air conditioner units as they are, and removes grease with centrifugal force from high-speed rotating blades on the crushing machine. Aluminum, copper, and iron are sorted by gravity and blower. Copper can be recovered at a high purity of 99%.

In addition, PETEC has introduced crushing and sorting lines for copper pipes and mixed metals. In these lines, copper pipes cut and recovered from the air conditioner line as well as mixed metals (mixture of copper and aluminum) obtained after removing iron and plastic from crushed refrigerators are crushed again and sorted to increase the resource values of copper and aluminum.

*1 PETECK and CETEC are joint ventures between Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and Panasonic.
*2 Air conditioners, TVs, refrigerators/freezers, and washing machines/clothes dryers.
*3 Recycling rate = Valuable resource weight/Total weight of used home appliances.
*4 The amended statutory recycling rates are at least: 80% for air conditioners, 55% for CRT TVs, 74% for LCD and plasma TVs, 70% for refrigerators and freezers, and 82% for washing machines and clothes dryers.

Recycling Efforts in the Europe / CIS Region

In fiscal 2017, we collected approx. 30,000 tons*5 of used products covered by the WEEE Directive across Europe.

Producers with online sales in Germany and warehouse facility space of more than 400 m² have to offer their onlinecustomers a WEEE take-back free of charge. This is not just as before via the municipal collection but also via so called “nearby local shipping points.” Panasonic Germany took necessary action in this regards and ensured legal compliance through offering a proper take-back solution to its online customers from July 2016 onwards.

The Russian Waste Law has been amended several times. The most recent amendment came into force in January 2015 (comprehensive law).

A new Decree sets environmental fee rates. Given the low collection targets, the effective rates producers have to pay are low in 2016/7. Producers and importers must manage waste from their product and packaging waste either through selfcompliance or a collective organization, or pay an environmental fee. The reporting requirements for self- and collective compliers (producers and importers opting to not pay the environmental fee) are laid out. The fee rates allow attracting significant investment in waste management infrastructure and establishing the Russian recycling industry. 14 members (including Panasonic) are registered as members of the newly formed collective organization EPR E-WASTE RECYCLING. Panasonic is working on further developing appropriate regulations through the industry association RATEK.

*5 Calculated by multiplying the weight of collected products per collection system by Panasonic market share in terms of weight per collection system.

Promoting Recycling Activities in North America

Panasonic continues its leadership role in establishing and operating a recycling system for waste batteries and consumer electronic products in North America. Following the start-up of a state recycling law in Minnesota in July 2007, we established the 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 electronic equipment.

With collaborative ties to several recycling companies, MRM operates collection programs on behalf of 40 companies across 20 states. MRM has collected approximately 340,592 tons since its inception in 2007. With the changes in Panasonic’s business strategies in the US in 2016, our remaining collection obligations are de-minimis, MRM will continue operating its collection programs on behalf of the manufacturers it serves.

As for waste batteries, we established Call2Recycle in 1994 jointly with other battery manufacturers, and now provide recycling programs for rechargeable batteries throughout the US and Canada. Call2Recycle provides collection programs and a robust retail collection network for over 300 companies, and collected approx. 6,386 tons of rechargeable batteries in the U.S. and Canada.

Recycling end-of-life products in Canada started in 2004 with the Alberta Government Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulation. Since then a total of 10 provinces and two territories have legislated WEEE, each with their own unique parameters and requirements. In an effort to harmonize these programs, Panasonic Canada takes active role in the governance of the Electronic Product Recycling Association, a not-for-profit management organization which was established with the mandate to standardize operations and bring about economies of scale on a national basis through 2,200 collection sites. They are now responsible for managing all the provincial programs with the exception of Alberta and the two territories, as these three programs are under the direct jurisdictions of their governments and not industry. The currently active provincial EPR programs have proven to be very effective in diverting e-waste as reflected in last year’s totals, where 127,122 tons were collected and resulted in an average of 3.57 kg per capita in Canada.

These numbers reflect the ongoing trend of light weighting of our products and the reduction in the number of heavy CRT televisions entering the end-of-life waste stream. In 2017, New Brunswick province and Yukon territory will launch their end-of-life recycling program leaving only the territory of Nunavut to legislate e-waste.

Initiatives in China

In China, through the Executive Committee of Foreign Investment Companies (ECFIC) and other organizations, we are engaging in activities to clarify the definition of products covered by the Second Catalog (published in February 2015) of the Regulation for the Management of Recycling and Disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Products published in May 2012 and enforced in July of the same year, as well as to gather information or submit comments on the establishment of a fund unit price, toward early disclosure of information by the Chinese government including Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Finance.

We are also carrying out an assessment of developments in the Plan on Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility announced by the Chinese government in January 2017 and reviewing our response.

International Collaboration in Southeast Asia and Oceania

The recycling law in Vietnam has been implemented from July 2016 and it requires producers and importers to establish a take back scheme for their products sold in Vietnam. Although the official implementation circular has yet to be published by the Vietnamese government, Panasonic Sales Vietnam has set up 2 collection points in their Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh service center as part of their efforts to support the government in raising recycling awareness and complying to the legal obligations. Panasonic Sales Vietnam is expected to set up 6 more collection points at Panasonic’s exclusive service centers in Haiphong, Thanhhoa, Nghean, Danang, Ho Chi Minh and Cantho from April 2017.

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme was established in Australia in 2011.

Panasonic Australia is a member of the Electronic Product Stewardship Australasia (EPSA), a co-regulatory arrangement approved by the Australian government to fulfill our obligation under the national scheme. Below are the recycling-related data for televisions and computers from 2012-2017:

Period Volume
July 2012 – June 2013 1,452 tons
July 2013 – June 2014 1,052 tons
July 2014 – June 2015 1,166 tons
July 2015 – June 2016 1,108 tons
July 2016 – June 2017 1,027 tons

The Australian government has announced a review of the Product Stewardship Act in 2017 and Panasonic Australia will engage in this review through industry group representation. In addition, Panasonic Australia is part of the Battery Industry Working Group with the Queensland Government and other stakeholders to investigate the viability to establish voluntary recycling for handheld batteries.

Regulators in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore are also gearing towards the global trend of mandating responsible end-of-life product recycling. Discussions with regulators and industry bodies are in progress. Such examples include Malaysia Department of Environment-Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) e-waste management mechanism development project and Thailand local industry association.

Through such engagements between the government and industry bodies, Panasonic hopes to contribute to the formulation of sustainable e-waste management policy in each country.

Recycling Efforts in India

In India, the recycling new e-waste law has been notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), which will be implemented from 1st of September 2017, with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) target based on end-of-life (EoL) defined in the e-waste (Management) rules 2016. To fulfill the compliance, we will collect and recycle waste home appliances through the “I Recycle” program already established by Panasonic India (PI).

Panasonic has also been taking part in the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) to help develop the white paper containing reports on an analysis of current recycling activities in India, and a long-term plan for waste problem solutions. The white paper with respect to e-waste channelization and EoL of products was submitted to the MoEFCC in October 2016.

We are having various dialogues with the Indian government, jointly with CEAMA, about the EPR target and EoL definition for recycling management.

We are also actively engaged in different active associations including the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to establish an even more efficient and robust recycling system and to submit industry comments to the Indian government for a better governance system.

Recycling Initiatives in Latin America

As the trend of reinforcing environmental laws progresses in Latin American countries, discussions on establishment of recycling laws and actual enforcement are being conducted.

We are having dialogues with the Brazilian government, jointly with an industry association and retailers, about the establishment of local recycling systems. Through Associação Brasileira de Reciclagem de Eletroeletrônicos e Eletrodomésticos (ABREE), we are participating in the Reverse Logistics Improvement Project, to which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been extending technological cooperation for three years, at the request of the Brazilian government, and working on building an effective system. In the test recovery program under the project, we have started for the first time in Brazil to collect used appliances from customers’ homes after they purchase a large household appliance, in addition to collecting used appliances at the store based on collaboration with retailers and recyclers.

Under the recycling law that came into force in Peru in 2016, we joined a nonprofit organization Asociación Peruana de Actores para la Gestión de Residuos (ASPAGER) as a leading member, and started a used products recovery program through discussions with the government.

In Costa Rica, we have started collecting used products through Unidad de Cumplimiento para la Gestión Integral de Residuos Electrónicos (ASEGIRE), a compliance organization for integrated management of waste electronics, and a similar program is underway in Mexico under the government-approved recycling and management plan. In Colombia, we formed a recycling management organization under and alliance of manufacturers liaising with governmental organizations and industrial groups, and started collecting refrigerators from 2014, aiming to resolve ozone depletion issues.

The legislation process has also been accelerated in Chile, and preparations are underway through continuous discussions with the government to create a collection program. In Argentina, we are participating in the Latin American Battery Association (ALPIBA) and engaging in continuous discussions with the government for effective legislation on regulations for dry cell batteries.