Approach to Water Resource Conservation

It is said that available fresh water is only about 0.01% of the Earth's total water resources. In addition, the World Economic Forum, host of the Davos meetings, has stated in its annual report on global risks that the water crisis continues to be one of the top risks with global impact, in view of the increase in water consumption to be caused by future economic growth and population increases.

With water shortages becoming an increasingly grave social problem, Panasonic is working to conserve water resources both in its products and production activities, in order to fulfill its social responsibility and to reduce management risks. Our Environmental Policy stipulates that we make efforts to conserve water resources by using water efficiently and preventing pollution. In Green Plan 2018, our Environmental Action Plan toward fiscal 2019, we aim to expand the range of products that contribute to saving and recycling water. At the same time, we will work on reducing the volume of water we consume and using more recycled water in our production processes, in order to conserve water resources throughout our business activities. In risk management, we are aiming to complete our water risk assessments for all our production sites by fiscal 2019.

Concrete action that we have taken for this includes an evaluation of the scale of water risks in all regions where our production sites are located, in order to identify and mitigate the impact of our production activities on our use of water.

In the evaluation, we employ evaluation tools such as the mapping tool Aqueduct by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Water Risk Filter by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which can not only assess the physical risks of water shortages but also examine the risks in water-related regulations as well as reputation risks in each region. We are also making use of public databases available from respective national governments. Furthermore, in areas with higher water risks, we are working to collect information through public local information as well as through interviews with relevant organizations, etc. By conducting detailed analyses and close examination of such local information and production site data including water use volume, we will specifically identify the impacts on our production activities. This water risk assessment process aimed for completion in fiscal 2019 has progressed by roughly 50% so far. Although no obvious water risk that may impact our business activities has been found at this point, we will continue our evaluations. At the same time, we will work to conserve water resources and reduce business risks in regions where water risks are determined to be high, by focusing on promotions to reduce water consumption and expand water recycling.

To promote such activities, we have established an Environmental Sustainability Management System for these activities including water management, under the executive officer in charge of environmental affairs (Yoshiyuki Miyabe, Senior Managing Executive Officer as of August 2017), and are aiming to raise the environmental management level by implementing the PDCA cycle.

In addition, we have established an Environmental Risk Management System to continuously reduce risks, and (1) identify environmental risks and promote company-wide risk management every fiscal year and (2) promptly respond to occurrence of environmental risks. We will continue to manage our environmental risks through these activities.

We are also a member of the Water Project, a public-private collaborative project aimed at boosting awareness, organized under the initiative of Japan's Ministry of the Environment in 2014. Its objective is to maintain a sound water cycle and promote its recovery, and presents water-related activities by business corporations as well as communicates information on the importance of water as its activities. We will work in cooperation with the Japanese government and other companies to conserve water resources.

Water Resource Conservation through Products

By thoroughly analyzing the use of water through our products, we have developed functionalities that allow a considerable amount of water conservation by utilizing water at a maximum level through improvement of water flow control and cyclic use. In fiscal 2012, we enhanced one of the criteria, water conservation, in our Green Product accreditation criteria, and are speeding up the development of industry-leading products that contribute to water saving.

Extractor Hoods

Extractor hoods easily get greasy, requiring roughly 28 liters of water for a single cleaning. The DW Series of flat extractor hoods with ECONAVI washing functionality are capable of automatically removing the grease collected by the fan filter simply by adding hot water into the hot water tray, setting the tray in the hood, and pressing the Clean button. Monthly cleaning will keep the extractor hood clean for 10 years without removing the fan filter. The system conserves water by 97% compared to conventional cleaning by removing the fan filter.*1 The product was awarded the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Prize in the 2014 Energy Conservation Grand Prizes.

The DE Series released in October 2016 has fan blades with a grease-repellent finish, making the hood resistant to any build-up of grease. Additionally, it removes the grease with its "grease tornado" function, which uses centrifugal force by spinning the fan at high speed before it stops running. This has reduced the need to clean the blades to roughly once every three years.*2

*1 Volume of water use is based on Panasonic standards.
*2 Comparison based on the filter grease collection efficiency (extractor hood fan) test under the Center of Better Living's Evaluation Methods Standards for ventilation units (for kitchen use)

ECONAVI flat extractor hood

Thermoelectric Cooling Roller

Commercial-use printers generally use water-cooled rollers to cool the paper after it has been heated to dry. However, this requires space for cooling pipes, making the system large in scale, and requiring cleaning and regular replacement of water.

The thermoelectric cooling roller that went into mass production in July 2016 cools the roller surface by flowing electric current through a thermoelectric converter device set inside the roller. With the wiring and cooling chiller that were needed in the water cooling system being no longer necessary, the cooling system has become compact in size and versatile in terms of installation location. At the same time, it has eliminated the use of water as refrigerant.

Thermoelectric cooling roller

Initiatives for Water Resource Conservation through Production Activities

By collecting and reusing wastewater from our manufacturing processes and air conditioning systems, we reduce the amount of water use and wastewater effluent. This reduces the impact of the intake and effluent of water in production activities on water resources. With many regions around the world threatened by water shortages, we focus on certain regions to address our use of water in our activities.

Water used at factories in fiscal 2017 resulted in 27.32 million m3, reduced by 5.4% compared to fiscal 2016. The water used at our factories per basic unit of production*3 improved year-on-year through impacts of structural reform, promotion of reuse, etc.

Our use of recycled water*4 in fiscal 2017 amounted to 7.05 million m3, accounting for 25.8% of our total water consumption. Discharged water in fiscal 2015, 2016, and 2017 resulted in 24.21 million m3, 22.46 million m3, and 21.84 million m3, respectively.

*3 Water used at factories per basic unit of production = Water used at factories / Production volume.
*4 The calculation excludes the water circulating for a single purpose (e.g. water in a cooling tower).

Water Consumption in Production Activities and Water Consumption Per Basic Unit

Note: Then-SANYO Electric and Panasonic Liquid Crystal Display not included in fiscal 2010.

FY2017 Breakdown of Water Consumption (by region)

FY2015 Breakdown of Water Consumption (by region)

In the Automotive & Industrial Systems Company under the Panasonic Group, water used at factories in fiscal 2017 resulted in 15.61 million m3, against a target of 16.04 million m3.
We are also active in making use of recycled water. Panasonic Technopark in India is designed to recycle 100% of the water used at the plant as part of the sustainable use of water resources.
Ground water is used inside the plant and undergoes wastewater treatment after use.
Rather than discharging the water into sewage or rivers, it is reused as toilet flushing water and for lawn sprinkling, and is recirculated again as ground water. Also, the necessary ground water level for the land area has been calculated to prevent water consumption beyond what is necessary, thereby contributing to ground water preservation.

Panasonic Technopark Water Recycling System