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Resource Circulation and Pollution Prevention

Our Approach

To help realize a sustainable society, NEC strives for the effective use of limited resources and is committed to activities based on our Environmental Policy, which affects every process from production to use. This includes initiatives to promote resource circulation and efforts to lessen environmental impact through waste reduction or other methods. In particular, we are working to collect and recycle hardware products that have been used by customers, since many resources are used in their production.

Resource Circulation

Finding Risks and Opportunities

Risk / Opportunity Description Risk reduction measures /
Specific opportunities
Risk Tighter relevant regulations at home and abroad require time and resources to appropriately address. If the response is delayed, it may affect NEC's competitiveness and reputation. Utilize collection of information before the enactment of regulations to facilitate an early response
Opportunity
(economic value)
Market expansion of circular economy-related businesses continues to progress and new markets continue to open up. Growing demand for NEC bioplastic products, and AI tools for food loss countermeasures

Waste with High Environmental Impact

NEC engages in the sale and manufacture of information equipment such as servers, routers, and wireless communications equipment. These products are made using a wide variety of chemical substances, and if these substances are not disposed of properly after use, they could have a major impact on the environment. Therefore, in 2001 NEC became a certified processor of industrial waste, a first for the electronics industry, and since then the Company has become committed to collecting and recycling its products. Moreover, when procuring parts necessary for the manufacture of our products, we are mindful, starting from the product design stage, of selecting parts that will be easy to recycle and will not cause environmental damage.

Recycling Home Gateway Devices

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, Ltd. is involved in recycling the Wi-Fi routers it has produced back into finished products. Routers that have exceeded their useful life are collected from customers and the plastics used in the cases are disassembled, crushed, and pelletized, and then remolded into Wi-Fi router cases to turn them back into finished products.
This initiative is highly regarded outside the company, which has received awards including the Resource Circulation Technology and Systems award.

Closed loop Recycling System for Home Gateway Devices

NEC's Local Resource Circulation Services

NEC aims to promote local resource circulation and community building with the goal of creating circular economies.
This service is intended to encourage the circulation of resources and energy within local communities by generating visual data on resident participation and recovery of resources, such as food waste collected at local garbage collection points.
Residents can record their recycling activities by simply holding a special IC card at a check-in terminal whenever they visit a garbage collection point.
Upon recording their activities, residents receive "gratitude feedback" based on the nudge theory*1 of behavioral economics, a process supervised by Professor Akira Goto of Meiji University. We expect that this feedback will increase residents' motivation to continue recording their activities.

  • *1
    "Nudging" is a means of encouraging people to perform desirable actions of their own accord through methods and frameworks drawn from behavioral science.

Verification Trials of ICT for Generating Visual Data on Food Waste Sorting

Verification trials were conducted jointly by NEC Group company NEC Solution Innovators, Ltd., Amita Corporation, and Rias Engineering, aimed at raising awareness of residents' participation in the separation and collection of food waste. These experimental trials received the "Best Nudge Award" in the Best Nudge Award Contest in 2019, hosted by the Ministry of the Environment.

Issues to be resolved

We would like to increase the effectiveness of the biogas facility established by Amita Corporation, to be a base for the local circulation of resources and energy. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the amount of waste collected in order to raise the level of food waste sorting with the cooperation of local residents.

Initiatives

  • Efficient monitoring of participation in food waste sorting
  • Provide positive feedback for participation (a message of gratitude as feedback for disposal and separation)

Results

  • Both the amount of waste collected and the level of waste sorting increased in areas where the system was introduced.
  • Efficient tracking of participation in food waste separation and the use of nudge methodology based on "gratitude research" encouraged a change in behavior toward separating waste.
Verification Trials of ICT for Generating Visual Data on Food Waste Sorting

Response to the Issue of Marine Plastics

NEC is working to resolve the issue of marine plastics through its business activities and in-house initiatives. In terms of business activities, we support the development of products that utilize biomaterials as well as microplastic analysis driven by AI. In-house initiatives include reducing PET bottle usage and eliminating plastic bags at company shops.

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.

  • 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

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.

Shifting to Circular Society with NEC's Digital Technology

Targets and Results

Items Targets Results
Waste volume 2.7% reduction
(compared with fiscal 2019)
9.9% reduction
(compared with fiscal 2019)
Achieved
Recovery volume of used information communications products Recovered volume 660 tons, recycling rate*1 98%, resource-reuse rate*2 92%

Actions: Expand conversions of waste to sellable materials, enhance waste separation, reduce paper use through digitalization, reuse cushioning materials, and administer on-site checks targeting contractors to ensure that outsourced industrial waste goes through an appropriate disposal process

  • *1 Recycling rate:
    The ratio of the weight of reused, material-recycled, and thermal-recycled items to the total weight of 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 collected IT devices (defined by the Law for the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources)

Waste

Breakdown of Waste Generation

(Unit: Tons)

  FY2018 FY2019 FY2020 FY2021 FY2022 FY2023
Total waste 42,593 38,318 38,589 35,886 308,460 42,236
General waste 2,251 2,156 2,328 1,823 1,781 1,608
Industrial waste 36,611 35,030 31,993 26,772 303,457 35,539
Specially
controlled
industrial waste
3,380 633 2,756 5,755 1,795 4,089
International waste 351 499 1,512 1,536 1,427 1,000
Recycling 36,686 34,504 36,612 29,057 291,668 36,707
Recycling rate 86.1% 90.0% 94.9% 81.0% 94.6% 86.9%

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 660 tons in fiscal 2023, a decrease of about 47% compared with the previous fiscal year. The recycling rate*1 in fiscal 2023 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 92%, almost the same as the previous fiscal year. The recycling of plastics and so on will be further encouraged to increase the recycling rate.

  • *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)

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 used desktop and laptop PCs and CRT and LCD displays we collected in fiscal 2023/3 amounted to approximately 68,000 units, a decrease of about 23% compared with the previous fiscal year. The rate of effective utilization established in law as a target to be achieved by 2003 has been achieved for all products.

Response to the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics

In June 2021, the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics was enacted to further promote the circulation of plastic resources in Japan with the aim of resolving issues related to marine plastic pollution, climate change, and tighter foreign waste import regulations. This law requires companies that generate industrial plastic waste in the manufacture, processing and distribution of plastic products to promote the reduction and recycling of industrial plastic waste.

NEC is a large generator of industrial plastic waste and has set targets and implemented initiatives to promote the reduction and recycling of industrial waste generated from plastic products.

  • Target for FY2024: Reduction of waste plastic emissions(1.4% reduction compared to FY2022)(Basic unit of sales)
  • Achievement status of targets for fiscal 2023: 22% reduction of Basic unit of sales(Achieved)
  • Waste plastic emissions in FY2023: 691 ton

Note: The plastic waste generation amount or target does not include plastic waste generated under special circumstances, such as irregular plastic waste generated during the redevelopment of business sites.

Chemical Substances

Our Approach

NEC carefully examines the environmental impact and safety of chemical substances in all phases of its operations, from introduction and use to disposal. NEC takes all possible measures to reduce consumption and replace harmful substances with safer ones.

Preliminary Evaluation of Chemical Substances

NEC has been conducting preliminary evaluations to examine environmental and safety aspects carefully when using a new chemical substance for the first time. These preliminary evaluations are a series of strict examinations of physical properties, toxicity levels, handling methods, emergency response measures, recycling methods, environmental impact, and other items related to chemical substances. Only substances that have passed these examinations are allowed to be purchased.

Preliminary Evaluation Process for Chemical Substances

Safety data sheets (SDS) are obtained from manufacturers or prepared independently for all chemical substances used. These are used for reference when making judgments in considering safety countermeasures to apply when using the chemical substances. Manufacturing assessments are also carried out in all manufacturing processes to evaluate environmental and safety aspects of the chemical substances and production facilities.

Conformance to the PRTR System (Act on Confirmation, etc. of Release Amounts of Specific Chemical Substances in the Environment and Promotion of Improvements to the Management Thereof)

NEC discloses the results of managing the inputs and outputs of chemical substances used by the NEC Group that are subject to the PRTR System (Class I Designated Chemical Substances: 462 substances).

For chemical substances released into the atmosphere and public water bodies (including discharges into sewage systems), NEC has set its own voluntary standards, which are more stringent than the levels required by law, and ensures that these standards are strictly met.

Reduction in Use of Strictly Regulated Chemical Substances

Ozone-depleting substances

The use of all specific chlorofluorocarbons as a cleaning agent in manufacturing processes was discontinued in 1993. By the end of fiscal 2011, efforts to totally discontinue the use of specific chlorofluorocarbons for refrigerant in air conditioners and specific halons used in fire extinguishers achieved a reduction of 96%, almost completely abolishing them from use.

Strict Control of Equipment and Parts Containing PCBs

At present, NEC strictly controls disposed-of devices (equipment and parts, including fluorescent light stabilizers) containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its three plants and five Group companies under stringent double and triple measures for preventing leakage.

The Law Concerning Special Measures for Promotion of Proper Treatment of PCB Waste was revised in 2016, changing the processing period set in the basic plan for the disposal of PCBs.

In compliance with the change, NEC is revising its disposal plans to ensure that the waste is processed within the set deadline.

Amount of PCBs held by NEC (as of March 31, 2021)
High concentration: 29,409 kg Low concentration: 71,932 kg

Scope: NEC Corporation

Targets and Results

Item Target Results
Chemical substance
procurement volume*1
1% reduction
(compared with fiscal 2018)
Achieved
Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)*2 At least 1% reduction
(compared with fiscal 2018)
Achieved
  • *1
    Substances subject to the PRTR System
  • *2
    Substances subject to voluntary action plans in the electrical equipment and electronics industries