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Resource Recycling(Collection and Recycling/Response to Marine Plastics Issue)

To realize a sustainable society, NEC is conducting initiatives towards comprehensive resource recycling, from production to use and recycling. Our hardware products have been used by many customers. Since these products use a lot of resources, collecting and recycling them will enable us to make effective use of limited resources.

Collection and Recycling

NEC has been collecting used information and telecommunication equipment such as computers from corporate customers since 1969, for reuse and recycling.

In 2001, new provisions in the Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources were enacted. These provisions require that used PCs from businesses be collected and recycled. NEC made use of its qualification as a certified processor of industrial waste and began a manufacturer service for the collection of PCs ahead of other manufacturers, right at the time this law was implemented.

Recovery of used information equipment (servers, PCs, printers and other products) from corporate and individual users totaled about 1,627 tons in fiscal 2020, a decrease of about 18% compared with the previous fiscal year. The recycling rate*1 in fiscal 2020 was close to 98%, almost unchanged from the previous year. The resource-reuse rate*2 defined by the Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources was 90%, almost the same as the previous fiscal year. The recycling of plastics and so on will be further encouraged to increase the recycling rate.

Breakdown of Collected and Recycled Products
Collected Amount and Recycling Rate of Used IT Devices
  • *1
    Recycling rate: The ratio of the weight of reused, material-recycled, and thermal-recycled items to the total weight of the collected IT devices
  • *2
    Resource-reuse rate: The ratio of the weight of materials that can be used as recycled products (parts reuse) or resources (material recycling) to the total weight of the collected IT devices (defined by the Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources)

Recycling

Wi-Fi Routers from Resource Reuse

NEC provides rentals of home gateway devices, including Wi-Fi routers and security devices. To reduce waste when rental devices are returned, we are actively engaged in effective resource reuse.

The Kakegawa Plant of NEC’s affiliate NEC Platforms is involved in recycling the Wi-Fi routers it has produced back into products. Routers that have exceeded their useful life are collected from customers and the plastics used in the cases are disassembled, crushed, and pelletized, then remolded into Wi-Fi router cases to turn them back into products.
This initiative has been highly regarded outside the company, which has received awards such as the Resource Recycling Technology and Systems award.

Wi-Fi Router Recycling

Used-IT-Product Collection and Recycling Rates

chart: Used-Product Collection and Recycling Rates

Reuse of Parts for Maintenance collected from used-products

chart: Reuse of Parts for Maintenance collected from used-products

State of Collection and Recycling of PCs

In April 2001, new provisions in the "Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources" were enacted, requiring that used PCs from business establishments be collected and recycled by manufacturers. Subsequently in October 2003, the additional responsibility of collecting and recycling used home PCs was placed on manufacturers.
The total number of desktop and laptop PCs and CRT and LCD displays we collected in FY 2020/3 amounted to approximately 111,000 units, an increase of about 4% from the previous fiscal year.
The rate of effective utilization of resources established in the law as a target to be achieved by 2003 has been achieved for all products.

Desktop PCs

  FY 2017/3 FY 2018/3 FY 2019/3 FY 2020/3 FY 2021/3
Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total
Weight of Collected Units (kg) (Note 1) 160,355 178,513 338,869 111,298 165,837 277,135 77,467 127,672 205,139 148,248 119,691 267,940 115,826 113,148 228,974
Number of Collected Units (Note 1) 17,637 18,423 36,060 10,430 14,728 25,158 9,732 11,502 21,234 12,752 10,783 23,535 19,970 10,467 30,437
Recycled Amount (kg) 245,065 178,446 147,959 199,763 179,144
Weight of Reused Resources (kg) 192,414 141,947 115,401 154,539 132,612
Resource Reuse Rate (%) (Note 2) 78.5 79.5 78.0 77.4 74.0

Laptop PCs

  FY 2017/3 FY 2018/3 FY 2019/3 FY 2020/3 FY 2021/3
Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total
Weight of Collected Units (kg) (Note 1) 41,169 122,158 163,327 31,082 122,758 153,840 27,220 106,636 133,856 35,905 111,092 146,998 25,714 125,030 150,745
Number of Collected Units (Note 1) 14,998 29,945 44,943 12,978 28,091 41,069 10,421 25,150 35,571 15,099 26,201 41,300 9,620 30,720 40,340
Recycled Amount (kg) 130,057 123,398 113,300 127,144 130,516
Weight of Reused Resources (kg) 81,971 77,223 69,704 80,511 85,260
Resource Reuse Rate (%) (Note 2) 63.0 62.6 61.5 63.3 65.3

CRT Displays

  FY 2017/3 FY 2018/3 FY 2019/3 FY 2020/3 FY 2021/3
Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total
Weight of Collected Units (kg) (Note 1) 9,817 51,013 60,830 4,999 46,914 51,913 4,337 43,027 47,364 3,891 36,592 40,483 2,337 30,605 32,942
Number of Collected Units (Note 1) 727 2,999 3,726 370 2,758 3,128 321 2,534 2,855 288 2,155 2,443 173 1,795 1,968
Recycled Amount (kg) 60,830 51,912 47,364 40,483 32,942
Weight of Reused Resources (kg) 45,093 36,143 32,949 27,762 22,328
Resource Reuse Rate (%) (Note 2) 74.1 69.6 69.6 68.6 67.8

LCDs

  FY 2017/3 FY 2018/3 FY 2019/3 FY 2020/3 FY 2021/3
Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total Business Home Total
Weight of Collected Units (kg) (Note 1) 119,590 325,958 445,549 113,568 280,400 393,968 50,549 246,448 296,997 64,200 268,602 332,802 53,812 291,853 345,665
Number of Collected Units (Note 1) 15,250 25,952 41,202 11,083 22,486 33,569 15,139 19,923 35,062 17,888 21,714 39,602 13,941 24,140 38,081
Recycled Amount (kg) 322,138 291,741 249,870 284,925 297,815
Weight of Reused Resources (kg) 256,572 243,755 206,098 237,042 245,798
Resource Reuse Rate (%) (Note 2) 79.6 83.6 82.5 83.2 82.5

Note 1: "Weight of Collected Units" and "Number of Collected Units" include product reuse (repurchased PCs).
Note 2: denominator: total weight of collected units (excluding product reuse) numerator: weight of items reused as second-hand reused parts (units) and as materials such as iron, copper, aluminum, precious metal, glass and plastic

Response to Marine Plastics Issue

Plastic has become a global environmental issue in recent times. Some plastic waste is not processed correctly after use and flows into the environment. Much of the plastic waste from land is blown by the wind or washed downstream by rivers, where it finally enters the ocean. Plastic that is lost in the sea is affected by UV and so forth, eventually being broken down to particles smaller than 5 mm, known as microplastics. These do not degrade, but persist in the ocean for a long time. If this trend continues unchecked, the amount of plastic in the sea is expected to exceed the amount of fish by 2050.

In response to this situation, NEC is working to resolve the marine plastics issue by introducing the use of bioplastics for its products, researching microplastics, and taking action to reduce plastic within the Company.

Garbage containing plastic washed ashore from the sea

Supporting the Development of Microplastic Analysis Technologies

Microplastics not only have an impact on eco systems, there are also concerns regarding their impact on the human body via the food chain. To shed light on the actual status of microplastics in the ocean, there is a need to develop a technology that can efficiently and accurately analyze a large number of samples.

NEC is using ICT to support the development of such a technology by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). Specifically, we aim to develop a system that uses AI to automatically measure the size of tiny microplastics observed by a fluorescence microscope, classify them by shape and convert the results into data. In trial tests using a prototype system, we have succeeded in converting information about a large quantity of microplastics into data in a short time, proving the validity of the system. In the future, this kind of analysis technology will be established and widespread, helping to advance the project of clarifying the actual state of ocean microplastics. This is expected to lead to concrete environmental pollution risk assessments, examination of emissions regulation, and so forth. Going forward, NEC aims to continue contributing to solutions for the issue of marine plastics using ICT.

  • Note:
    The above activities were carried out with support from the Environmental Research and Technology Development Fund (SII-2) of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency

Internal Measures to Reduce Marine Plastics

At NEC, we encourage each individual employee to change their awareness and take autonomous action regarding the issue of marine plastics.
In October 2019, we changed the refreshments offered on our visitor floor from PET bottled drinks to aluminum canned drinks (except for mineral water).
To address the issue of shopping bags provided at our in-house store, during Environment Month in June 2019 we asked employees to donate eco bags and asked them to share the eco bags to reduce the use of shopping bags in an initiative called “sharing eco bags.” This helped to foster awareness within the Company. Through this initiative, we have banned the provision of plastic shopping bags at the counters in our NEC Head Office building and offices in Tamagawa, Fuchu, Abiko, Sagamihara, and Kansai since January 2020. Following the ban, the number of plastic shopping bags used decreased by around 70% year on year for January-February. Since April we have expanded the ban to cover all Group companies as well.
In addition to banning the provision of plastic shopping bags at the counter, we have also banned the use of plastic drinking straws at café corners inside our stores, and changed to paper muddlers.

Activities for Sorting and Collecting Trash

Rules for separation of trash differ depending on the local government. NEC has created posters that explain the rules for separation in each business location in a clear, simple manner. These enable individual employees to separate and recycle garbage appropriately.

NEC’s Advanced Technologies

NeCycle®, a Gorgeous and Highly-Functional Cellulose-based Biomaterial

NeCycle® is a completely new biomaterial made from inedible biomass as a raw material, and offers the functionality of bioplastic as well as new added value in the form of decorative properties. It has a gorgeous blackness like lacquerware, which was achieved through joint research undertaken with leading Japanese lacquerware artist Dr. Yutaro Shimode.
NeCycle® can be manufactured by injection molding just like regular plastics, and can also be freely shaped without a coating process to create component shapes that have not been possible with lacquer before.

In October 2019, a "Green Innovation Summit" was held in Japan to discuss disruptive innovations for realizing the concept of "a positive cycle of environment and growth." As part of the event, a "Green Innovation Summit Reception" was held at the Prime Minister’s Office, where guests were served with Japanese confectionery on plates made from NeCycle®. Since NeCycle® will break down just like wood over the long-term if it ends up in the ocean, it was introduced as an example of disruptive innovation that can resolve the issue of marine plastics.