Environment: Global Initiatives for Used Product Recycling

Global Initiatives for Used Product Recycling

For the purpose of efficient use of natural resources and prevention of environmental pollution, many countries around the world have been enacting recycling laws and developing their recycling systems. 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 (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive in the European Union, and recycling-related laws in many states in the United States as well as in China. 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, the Panasonic Group strives to establish the most efficient recycling system in each country that is in line with its local recycling infrastructure, including the utilization of third parties.

Product recycling results in fiscal 2022 are as shown below. As for the situation outside Japan, with the decrease in the volume of collection and recycling due to recent reforms of business areas in various countries, the weight of collected products is on a flat or downward trend.

FY2022 Results

Japan Processed approx. 166.40 kt of four kinds of used home appliances
Europe Collected approx. 21.87 kt of used electronic products
USA Collected approx. 53 t 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*11, manufacturers were grouped into two groups, Group A and Group B, to collect and recycle the four specified kinds of used home appliances. We belong to Group A, and to work on recycling, we have 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 management company supervises 327 designated collection sites (shared by Group A and Group B) and 30 recycling plants, based on consignment from Group A manufacturers (16 companies including the Panasonic Group). Additionally, we invest in Panasonic Eco Technology Center Co., Ltd. (PETEC), Panasonic Eco Technology Kanto Co., Ltd. (PETECK), and Chubu Eco Technology Co., Ltd. (CETEC)*12 and exchange information with product manufacturing divisions to develop easy-to-recycle designs, as well as conducts research and development to efficiently recover and supply more resources. In fiscal 2022, we recycled approx. 166.40 kt of the four specified used home appliances.

Machine to turn over air conditioner outdoor units at PETECK

Although the statutory recycling rate*13 is being raised in phases, our recycling plants have been achieving recycling rates higher than the legal requirement by reviewing and improving recycling equipment and processes in view of the characteristics and materials of respective products as well as higher recycling efficiency.

In the summer of 2019, PETECK automated a part of its air conditioner processing line, using an articulated robot to turn over and transfer air conditioner outdoor units during the dismantling process. The recognition device identifies the position and size of the outdoor unit, and based on the identified information the articulated robot picks up and moves the unit to the standard dismantling process or to the process for dismantling special items such as window-type units. This has enabled safe and efficient air conditioner processing, relieving workers of dangerous work that required physical strength to turn outdoor units (weighing 33 kg in average) upside down.

As for PETEC, it promotes high grade single-plastic recycling using plastic recognition equipment. See Enhanced Use of Recycled Resin for more details.

*11 Air conditioners, TVs, refrigerators/freezers, and washing machines/clothes dryers.
*12 PETEC is a company fully invested by the Panasonic Group, and PETECK and CETEC are joint ventures between Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and the Panasonic Group.
*13 Statutory recycling rate = Recycling rate specified by law (Valuable resource weight/Total weight of used home appliances).
The statutory recycling rates were raised in 2009 and 2015, and are currently 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.

Efforts in the Europe / CIS Region

In 2021, we collected approx. 21.87 kt*14 of used products covered by the WEEE Directive across Europe.

Circular Economy as the main trigger for usage of recycled material in products
The EU released its 1st and 2nd `Circular Economy Action plan in 2018 and 2020, and in a similar way, many EU Member States have published their own national Circular Economy Action Plans. Meanwhile, we see more and more legislative requirements coming up in in Europe that put the usage of recycled material in new products in its focus. As an example, the draft EU Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) has been published - expected to enter into force 2024 or 2025 - will set the legal frame for minimum amounts of recycled material that will be individually defined for different product groups. Accordingly, Panasonic has started considering how to prepare our business for such new recycled material requirements in future. For instance, this includes ensuring stable material supplies with guaranteed quality. In addition, we intensified the internal discussion about the impacts on product design, the enhanced reuse of products and components, or how to further improve and simplify the recyclability of products.

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

Efforts in North America

The Panasonic Group continues its leadership role in establishing and operating a recycling system for waste batteries and consumer electronic products in North America. Following the startup 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 numerous companies across 20 states and the District of Columbia. The cumulative total of collection by MRM has exceeded 1.2 billion lbs. (approximately 600 kt) since its inception in 2007. With the changes in our business strategies in the US, 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 program and a robust retail collection network for over 300 companies, and collected more than 94.5 kt of primary and rechargeable batteries in the US and Canada since the organization's inception.

Recycling end-of-life products in Canada started in 2004 with the Alberta Government Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulation. Since then a total of ten 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 an active role in the governance of the Electronic Product Recycling Association, a not-for-profit management organization. The currently active provincial EPR programs have proven to be very effective in diverting e-waste as reflected in 2020 totals, where 109.41 kt in Canada were collected.

Efforts in China

In China, we are engaged in activities to clarify the products covered by the Second Catalog (published in February 2015) of the Regulation for the Administration of the Recycling and Treatment of Waste Electrical and Electronic Products, which was published in May 2012 and enforced in July of the same year. In addition, we actively gather information and submit comments on setting unit-based rates for the covered products, toward early disclosure of information by Chinese governmental organizations such as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Finance.

We are also carrying out an assessment of the development of the Plan on Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility promulgated by the government in January 2017, as well as reviewing our responses toward the expected publication of operational rules to the China Solid Waste Environmental Pollution Prevention Law which was enforced in September 2020.

Efforts in Southeast Asia and Oceania

Vietnam

Since the introduction of recycling law in Vietnam in July 2016, producers and importers are required to establish a take back scheme for their products sold in Vietnam. Panasonic Sales Vietnam has since set up 7 collection points: two in Ho Chi Minh, and one each in Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Da Nang, and Can Tho. Between January 2021 and December 2021, 29.5 t of e-waste were collected and sent to licensed recyclers for proper treatment.

In November 2020, the National Assembly passed the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 which sets out requirements for a wide range of environmental issues, including the enhancement of e-waste management in Vietnam. In January 2022, the Government issued "Decree 08/2022 Detailing a Number of Articles of the Law on Environmental Protection" and "Circular 02/2022/QD-TTg Detailing the Implementation of a Number of Articles of the Law on Environmental Protection," under which producers/ importers are required to contribute financially for waste treatment of primary batteries on 1 January 2022.

Producers/ importers are also required to contribute financially or self-manage e-waste recycling for rechargeable batteries from 1 January 2024 and electronic products from 1 January 2025. Panasonic Sales Vietnam will work closely with the Vietnamese government to support the implementation of an effective waste treatment and e-waste recycling scheme.

Australia

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) was established in Australia in 2011. Effective from 1 July 2021, the Recycling and Waste Reduction (Product Stewardship –Televisions and Computers) Rules 2021 made under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 will provide a new legislative framework to manage waste, recycling and product stewardship.

Panasonic Australia (PAU) partnered with Ecycle Solutions, a co-regulatory arrangement approved by the Australian government to fulfill its obligation under the national scheme, since May 2021. Between January 2021 and December 2021, 209 t of e-waste were recycled. PAU will confirm the co-regulatory arrangement for the new fiscal year in August.

PAU has played an active role in the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) in designing a voluntary stewardship program for batteries, becoming a formal Member in March 2021. This scheme is intended to manage all types of end-of-life batteries except for automotive lead-acid batteries and batteries that are currently included in a stewardship or recycling scheme. In 2020, BSC was granted authorization to establish and operate this voluntary scheme. PAU looks forward to participating actively in this scheme and contribute towards the efforts of sustainable e-waste management in Australia.

Singapore

The Resource Sustainability Act introduced in Singapore in 2020 requires producers of regulated consumer products to join the licensed Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS), which started in July 2021. For Compliance Year 2021 (July 2021 – June 2022), a Collection Target of 60% (of weight supplied) was set for regulated Large Household Appliances (LHAs) and 20% for Portable Batteries. Panasonic Singapore is working closely with the authorities and PRS operator to ensure the smooth implementation of the PRS. Between July 2021 to Dec 2021, a total of 2,897 tons of regulated e-waste was collected by the PRS operator, of which LHAs comprised of a total of 92.7% by weight.

Other Countries in Southeast Asia and Oceania

Regulators in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and New Zealand are also gearing towards the global trend of mandating end-of-life product recycling. Discussions with regulators and industry bodies are in progress. We hope to contribute to the formulation of sustainable e-waste management policy in each country through engagement with local governments and industry associations and participation in pilot recycling projects.

Efforts in India

In India, the new e-waste recycling law has been implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) from the 1st of October 2017, with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) targets 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).

We have also been taking part in the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA), which promotes an analysis of current recycling activities in India as well as a long-term plan for waste problem solutions.

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.

Efforts in Latin America

In response to a growing trend in stricter environmental laws in Latin American countries, discussions on the establishment of recycling laws and actual enforcement are being conducted.

In Brazil, a sectoral agreement on home appliances was concluded in October 2019, and a Federal Decree specifying a system to collect and recycle household electrical and electronic equipment was enforced in January 2021. As one of the main members of a waste home appliance management body (ABREE), we collaborated in the establishment of a reverse logistics system (a system to collect used products), and promotes efficient collection and treatment of used products.

In Peru, under the recycling law that came into force in 2016, we joined a nonprofit waste management organization (ASPAGER) as a leading member, and started a used-product recovery program.

In Colombia, a framework law for home appliance recycling was enacted in 2018. We have been a member of a used-product collection program (Red Verde/Lumina) conducted by an industry group (ANDI) since 2014, prior to the enactment of operational rules.

In Mexico, a collection program is implemented under the government-approved recycling management plan.

In Chile, the legislation is being considered, and preparations for setting up a collection program are underway through continuous discussions with the government.