Plastic recycling comes of age

Breakthroughs Shaping the Future

Building on a Legacy of Best Practices

In 2012, the Mitsubishi Electric Group led the successful launch of Japan's first large-scale, high-purity plastic recycling system. In recycling materials including metals, Mitsubishi Electric Group is pursuing a policy of "greater efficiency and advancement in all aspects," but we think we can do more. One of our key pursuits is rare metals recycling.

However, there are still many more breakthroughs to come, as Mitsubishi Electric presses ahead, leveraging its technological advantages in the discovery of more efficient ways to reclaim valuable rare metals.

The ideas, attitudes and best industrial practices responsible for rapid breakthroughs in plastic recycling also fuel the company's efforts in this area, strengthening Mitsubishi Electric's leadership role in its ongoing quest for a sustainable future.

Staying Focused on the Challenges Ahead

photo: Mr. Takashi Hishi

Mr. Takashi Hishi
Executive Corporate Adviser (as of 2011)
Hyper Cycle Systems Corporation

From the very start, the idea of creating a completely new industry from the profitable recovery and processing of end-of-lifecycle products has been a powerful motivating force for us at Hyper Cycle Systems. It fueled our determination to first and foremost make our facilities pleasant and inspiring places to work, as well as crucibles of innovation.

If our goal is mass-scale production of industrial-grade materials of the highest quality, only a clean and healthy work environment can ensure optimum productivity levels at any given time. As the health, safety and comfort of our people come first, our first major challenge was to eliminate dust kicked up from the disassembly of old products. This critical step requires intensive manual labor.

We did that by properly partitioning workspaces and installing high-tech dust elimination and air conditioning equipment specially developed by Mitsubishi Electric's building systems engineers. We also encouraged an open-minded environment where good ideas can come from anyone. This has led to a proactive, initiative-taking culture.

I think that our advances in materials separation technology, combined with the chemical processes used by Green Cycle Systems to create greater yields in the quality and quantity of industrial-grade recycled plastic resources, demonstrates that we have established firm fundamentals for a successful recycled materials business.

Materials recovered from old products are valuable resources of benefit to society. We look at a mountain of old electrical appliances and see a "city mine," and view ourselves as the miners entrusted with the painstaking work of extracting the precious ore from it.

But we're really still just in the era of discovery of what might be possible. We hope in five or ten years Hyper Cycle Systems and Mitsubishi Electric will be viewed as the nucleus of a completely new type of recycled materials industry.

For the Benefit of the Entire Industry

photo: Mr. Satoshi Matsuda

Mr. Satoshi Matsuda
Green Cycle Systems Corporation

Green Cycle Systems produces a commodity that comes from the waste plastic we receive from the product lines of a number of electrical appliance manufacturers. Currently, Green Cycle Systems is looking to strengthen ties with cooperative companies to become a material center of home appliances recycling factories. We are expanding our capability by collecting materials from many recycling factories.

Mitsubishi Electric's attitudes towards recycling have always reflected the company's views on what it feels are in the best interests of the industry at large, so Green Cycle Systems doesn't intend to confine its sales to only Mitsubishi Electric Group factories. We want to extend the company's "closed-loop recycling" concept to all home appliance makers in the industry, with our recycling centers at the heart, of it.

Our larger aim is to expand the scale of recycling in Japan, so we encourage other recyclers to make use of Green Cycle Systems' unique expertise in large-scale, high-purity plastic recycling. Right now the facility has ample capacity to refine much more raw plastic materials than it receives from Hyper Cycle Systems. And once we achieve full operation, which we expect to happen as quickly as possible, then we will develop as a bearer of new industry that can contribute to society with a low-carbon footprint and recycling-oriented base. I truly believe this is essential for the betterment of the industry and for Japanese society at large, in the future.