Environment – Using Water Effectively

Understanding Water Risk In Japan and Overseas, Promoting Effective Use of Water

Water risk is increasing worldwide with ever more serious water shortages and pollution, as well as abnormal weather caused by climate change. This affects production of raw materials and manufacture of products, leading to a corresponding interest in corporate water risk management. The Mitsubishi Electric Group uses WRI Aqueduct* to keep track of current and future water risk. We use the results of this assessment to prioritize countermeasures for each production base and take clear action. This includes reporting to government authorities as required. As of July 2016, we have identified bases inside Japan and overseas at high risk of water shortages, flooding, etc.

The Mitsubishi Electric Group continuously reviews data from all production bases on water use and reuse, checks every six months to make sure there are no major fluctuations in the values reported, and implements countermeasures as needed. All production bases endeavor to decrease water use and increase water reuse. Examples of effective water use are shared with other bases through regional meetings and key person research so they can make use of the information. Product development takes effect on water sources and life cycle evaluation into account, reducing our products' impact on the environment.

*
WRI Aqueduct: Water risk assessment tool developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI)

Result of Activities in Fiscal 2017

Total water use for the group in fiscal 2017 was 1,523 tons, with a reuse ratio of 28%. This is the result of activities such as clarifying prioritization of countermeasures for each production base, implementing measures to reduce water risk, and replacing old utilities with highly efficient equipment.

Mitsubishi Electric recycles and reuses washing water from the production process, and makes use of gray water such as purified waste water to supply toilets and cooling towers. This has reduced our water use to 1,098 tons, and brought our reuse rate to 28.6%.

Our affiliate companies in Japan are adopting similar measures, with water usage at 236 tons and a reuse rate of 40%.

Overseas affiliate companies are focusing on using purified waste water as gray water, resulting in water use of 189 tons and a reuse rate of 9.5%.

Fiscal 2017 Trends in Water Usage and Water Recycling Volume
Fiscal 2017 Breakdown of Water Usage

Fiscal 2017 Water Reuse Ratio

(Units: %)

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mitsubishi Electric 33 32 33 30 30 29
Affiliates in Japan 52 47 48 45 41 40
Overseas affiliates 7.4 6.6 5.7 7.5 7.1 9.5
Total 34 32 32 30 29 28

Fiscal 2017 Breakdown of Water Use by Overseas Region

(Units: m3)

  Water Usage Waste Water
  Total Usage Public Water/Industrial Water Groundwater River Water/Spring Water Total Usage Sewage Public Water System
China 902,590 780,057 0 1,845 639,021 625,640 13,381
Southeast Asia 917,605 843,214 11,951 0 534,305 455,665 0
Europe 19,060 19,060 0 0 13,410 5,387 0
North America 26,993 26,607 0 0 22,214 22,214 0
Central and South America 24,494 21,472 2,750 0 9,262 6,512 2,750
Total 1,890,742 1,690,410 14,701 1,845 1,218,212 1,115,418 16,131
Page Top

Case Study: Green Cycle Systems Corporation

Green Cycle Systems Corporation (GCS), part of the Mitsubishi Electric Group, recovers plastic from end-of-life home appliances. By 2011, they had achieved reuse of 99% of the water used in this process and have maintained this level of reuse ever since.

Water is used in the GCS plant as part of their process for sorting mixed crushed plastic waste into individual types of plastic. The water becomes contaminated with fine particles of plastic and cannot be reused as-is, so GCS have developed a process where the fine particles are adsorbed and removed by microbubbles*, improving their water recycling and reuse ratio. Aside from exceptional cases such as treating salvaged sludge or evaporation, the process needs almost no new water and so does not consume large quantities of water.

*
Microbubbles: Microscopic bubbles approximately 1/100th the size of normal bubbles (0.1 mm/100 microns in diameter or smaller). Unlike normal bubbles, microbubbles drift slowly through the water as they rise and are used for their ability to adsorb tiny particles.

View of the plant

Water recycling equipment


Case Study: Mitsubishi Electric Dalian Industrial Products Co., Ltd.

Mitsubishi Electric Dalian Industrial Products Co., Ltd., which manufactures factory automation equipment and other products, reuses purified domestic waste water as gray water.

Treatment systems using advanced technology such as membrane bioreactors, or catalytic oxidation which is widely used in Japan, are installed at the plant and housing buildings. Reusing this water for washing and in toilets has saved approximately 14,000 tons of water per year, and also reduced costs.

With the recent government-led introduction of corporate environmental credit assessments*, China has started to require greater measures for environmental protection. We will continue to look for ways to use resources sustainably, not only to comply with national regulations but also to respond to social demand.

*
Corporate environmental credit assessment: Assessments carried out by regional authorities under the Corporate Environmental Credit Assessment Law which came into force in December 2013. The assessments evaluate the environmental practices of companies with significant environmental impact, such as release of large quantities of pollutants, and place them into one of four ranks based on the results. Companies with poor evaluations may be subject to disciplinary action.

Aerial view of Mitsubishi Electric Dalian Industrial Products Co., Ltd.

Grey water tap

Receiving "A-List Company" Recognition, the Highest Evaluation from CDP*

In fiscal 2017, Mitsubishi Electric was named an A-List company in the CDP's "Water 2016" program. The CDP awarded us this highest evaluation in recognition of our exceptional activities in terms of measures and strategies for water resources. For the CDP Supply Chain Program, we also received A-List recognition in the CDP Supplier Water category. We will continue to press forward with our efforts.

*
CDP: An international NGO that examines, evaluates and discloses environmental initiatives of corporations and cities.
Page Top