Initiatives toward creating a recycling-based society

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. As of July 2016, we have identified bases inside Japan and overseas at high risk of water shortage, flooding, etc.

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.

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 2018

Mitsubishi Electric continued to carry out initiatives to save water, including the reuse of the warm water used in shipment testing for processing and cleaning components, and the use of treated wastewater for flushing toilets and replenishing cooling towers. As a result, total water usage was 10.8 million m3, and the reuse ratio was 31%.

In addition to the aforementioned measures, our affiliates in Japan carried out other initiatives, including replacing water-cooled air-conditioners with air-cooled models. Consequently, water usage was 2.69 million m3, and the reuse rate was 40%.

The initiatives at overseas affiliates focused on using purified wastewater, resulting in water usage of 2.11 million m3 and a reuse rate of 8%.

graph: Trends in Water Usage and Water Recycling Volume
graph: Fiscal 2018 Breakdown of Water Usage

Water Reuse Ratio

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mitsubishi Electric 32 33 30 30 29 31
Affiliates in Japan 47 48 45 41 40 40
Overseas affiliates 6.6 5.7 7.5 7.1 9.5 8
Total 32 32 30 29 28 29

(Units: %)

Fiscal 2018 Breakdown of Water Use by Overseas Region

Water Usage Waste Water
Total Usage Public Water/Industrial Water Groundwater River Water/Spring Water Total Usage Sewage Public Water System
China 807,159 804,999 0 2,160 675,783 664,613 11,170
Southeast Asia 1,049,818 1,039,575 10,243 0 551,613 473,062 0
Europe 19,117 19,117 0 0 13,357 5,317 0
North America 31,546 30,846 0 0 30,846 30,846 0
Central and South America 32,289 29,569 2,720 0 26,705 6,077 4,420
Total 1,939,929 1,924,106 12,963 2,160 1,298,304 1,179,915 15,590

(Units: m3)

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.
  • photo: View of the plant

    View of the plant

  • photo: Water recycling equipment

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

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

  • photo: Grey water tap

    Grey water tap

Key Points of the 9th Environmental Plan (Fiscal 2019-2021)

For the 9th Environmental Plan, the new three-year plan spanning fiscal 2019 to 2021, we set the target of improving water usage per unit of sales by 1% per year compared to fiscal 2011. Our initiatives to achieve this target include evaluating water resource risk at all of the manufacturing sites in Japan and overseas, reducing the use of water resources through clear prioritization of sites where measures are needed, and promoting reuse of water. We are also developing and introducing original water treatment/purification technologies and systems.

Receiving "A-List Company" Recognition, the Highest Evaluation from CDP* for Two Consecutive Years

diagram: "A-List Company" Recognition, the Highest Evaluation from CDP<sup>*</sup> for Two Consecutive Years

In fiscal 2018, Mitsubishi Electric was named an A-List company in the CDP Water Program for two consecutive years, in fiscal 2017 and 2018. The CDP awarded us this highest evaluation in recognition of 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 for two years running. We will continue to press forward with our efforts to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.

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