Whether in China, the UK or the Czech Republic: all of Panasonic’s factories are certified to ISO14001. 238 of them (94%) can also title themselves ‘Green Factories’, as they operate in a manner that is particularly sustainable.
Those looking for an eco-friendly appliance usually look at its energy efficiency level. But what about the actual production? To what extent was it manufactured in a ‘green’ way? And how many harmful substances are hidden within it? We believe that only those producing in a sustainable way really take the reduction of their CO2 footprint seriously.
Panasonic operates many manufacturing facilities around the world: they don’t just abide by the local legal environmental standards, but also to our own strict environmental criteria. Each of our manufacturing sites is classified in terms of its ecological activities following a 15-stage, detailed evaluation system – the ‘Green Factory Assessment’. This evaluation assesses the specific contribution a factory makes, for example regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions, control of pollutants, level of waste, or water consumption. Factories that are able to excel in these respects receive the in-house distinction of ‘Green Factory’. As more than 94 % of Panasonic’s manufacturing plants have achieved Green Factory status, new criteria have recently been added to our assessment system. In future, our factories are additionally evaluated in terms of their progress in human resources development, their environmental activities and their risk management.
All of Panasonic’s manufacturing plants are certified to ‘ISO 14001’ – a globally valid standard awarded by the ‘International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)’. The requirements of ISO 14001 include the requirement to encourage environmental protection, reduce ecological impact and establish a systematic environmental management policy. This includes the formation of means by which ecological impacts can be measured and reduced, the analysis and evaluation of possible risks and the provision of relevant emergency guides. Independent institutes continuously control to what extent a company complies with these requirements.
In relation to harmful substances, we use the approach of prevention, whenever possible doing without them completely. Where no suitable alternative exists, we follow our internal imperative to reduce their use – and thereby their potential danger – to a minimum across the product’s entire life span. Consequently we developed our own ‘Chemical Substances Management Rank Guidelines’, valid in all of Panasonic’s factories on a global scale. For this assessment, we analysed 1.32 million components. 280,000 of them were subsequently replaced by alternatives which were more environmentally friendly.
Panasonic’s own ‘Chemical Substances Management Rank Guidelines’ regarding the handling of chemicals has been revised continuously and is much stricter than the legal specification set out in the RoHS directive (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) valid in Europe, which limits the use of mercury, cadmium and other hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
Example ‘lead’: In 1988, our corporation produced the first portable mini-disc-player with lead-free soldering agents. We also were the first manufacturers to banish lead from our plasma televisions displays.
Example ‘bromine’: We discontinued the use of PBB and PBDE, two kinds of flame retardants containing bromine. We also use eco-friendly substitutes wherever possible for other flame retardants that are legally permitted, but only if they guarantee the necessary security of the appliances. Flame protection for the consumer is the highest priority.
Example ‘PVC’: While the use of this substance is not prohibited, certain scientists have voiced their concerns on the environmental impact of PVC if disposed of inappropriately. For this reason we stopped using PVC for the internal wiring of Panasonic products in March 2011. We are also looking to cease its use for external cables, but a lack of an appropriate alternative has not allowed us to fully achieve this yet.