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 to operate and manage a geographically dispersed recycling network through the effective use of existing recycling facilities nationwide. This recycling management company operates comprehensive recycling-related services on behalf of the “Group A” manufacturers (17 companies including Panasonic), and supervises 333 designated collection sites (shared by “Group A” and “Group B”) and 28 recycling facilities. 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 processes for further efficient recycling of the four kinds of used home appliances*2 and for the recovery and supply of many resources. In fiscal 2019, we processed approx. 165,160 tons of the four specified used 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 increase recycling rates.*3 This resulted in the revision of the statutory recycling rate*4 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 appropriate to the characteristics and materials of respective 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 simultaneously as they are, and removes grease with centrifugal force generated by 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 re-crushed and re-sorted to increase the resource values of copper and aluminum. At the same time, we are working on recycling high-quality, single plastics through the use of a plastic sorter.
*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.