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Creating Eco-conscious Products

Product Lifecycles—Environmental Considerations

  • 12 RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
  • 13 CLIMATE ACTION
  • 14 LIFE BELOW WATER
  • 15 LIFE ON LAND

Setting ever higher targets for reducing environmental impact at each stage

The Brother Group is committed to reducing environmental impact at all stages of the life cycle of its products. This is the guiding principle of the group's manufacturing activities.

Environmental Considerations within Product Life Cycles

Since each of the stages are closely interlinked in terms of environmental impact, continuous efforts are required to make incremental improvements and to achieve technological innovation. The Brother Group aims to make such efforts throughout its operations in order to continuously deliver eco- conscious products to customers.

The Brother Group Environmental Action Plan 2018 (2016-2018) set ever-higher targets for each of these stages to accelerate efforts. Specific activities include enhancing eco-conscious design processes and green procurement, continuous reduction in environmental impact at manufacturing facilities (such as CO2 emissions and water consumption), reduction in CO2 emissions in logistics (for example, by optimizing packaging), further improvements in energy-saving performance during product use, and enhancement in the reusability, recyclability, and collection system for either products or consumables.

Furthermore, based on the Brother Group Environmental Action Plan 2021 (2019–2021), we are working with our stakeholders to actively promote solutions to the important issues described in the Brother Group Environmental Vision 2050. These issues include creating eco-conscious products, reducing CO2 emitted throughout the entire value chain, strengthening resource circulation in business activities, reducing business activities' impact on the ecosystem, expanding conservation activities, complying with environmental laws and regulations, and accurately responding to societal demands.

1. Development and design

Basic policy

Brother products are developed and designed to:

  • comply with laws and regulations of the various countries and regions where sold;
  • be compact and lightweight to conserve resources;
  • achieve the top levels of energy conservation performance in the industry;
  • meet hazardous chemical substance management standards, as defined in the Brother Group Green Procurement Standards;
  • be easily recycled at the end of life; and
  • meet emission standards (for chemical substances, noise, etc.).

When trying to develop a product that will be eco-conscious throughout its entire life cycle, it is essential to apply these principles at the development and design stage.
For the key criteria listed in the product environmental impact assessments, target values are set at the initial stage of development and design.

Air Flow Simulation Technology [Brother's activities] Predicting airflow and improving environmental performance

Measures

Brother Industries, Ltd. (BIL) conducts product environmental impact assessments at key stages of development and ensures eco-conscious design by addressing the product life cycle from material procurement, production, products use and through to the collection and recycling at the end of life. Also, BIL actively acquires environmental labels in respective countries. For customers in Europe and the U.S. in particular, BIL discloses product information in accordance with the Eco Declaration (ECMA-370).

Product environmental impact assessments and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

BIL conducts product environmental impact assessments in order to evaluate the impact that products have on the environment. There are 51 assessment items. For key criteria, improvement must be achieved at the product development stage.

Product environmental impact assessment flow Product environmental impact assessment flow

Key criteria for product environmental impact assessment

  • Size and weight
  • Parts reuse/recyclability, disassembly/dismantling, avoidance of difficult-to-disassemble structures, integration of resin materials
  • Hazards during production or use
  • Size, weight and recyclability of packaging materials
  • Material labeling, compliance with related laws and regulations and environmental labels

We conduct an LCA that quantitatively provides numerical data for the "degree of impact on the environment" at each stage of a product's life cycle. Environmental load characteristics and improvement points are identified and the improvement effect is confirmed for each product. Evaluation results are released on the BIL website showing the products that have acquired various environmental labels, as well as on the website managed and operated by the Sustainable Management Promotion Organization under the EcoLeaf Environmental Label.

Furthermore, since 2007, BIL has been promoting the development of eco-conscious products by sharing LCA information with various divisions by posting it on the company's intranet.
As of May 2020, the number of EcoLeaf products registered in the LCA information is 283 with Japanese specifications and 56 with the U.S. specifications (of which 123 with Japanese specifications and 56 with the U.S. specifications were previously registered).
The Brother Group will continue to reduce the environmental impact of products by using LCA techniques.

Products that have acquired the EcoLeaf environmental label Products that have acquired the EcoLeaf environmental label

(Link to the website of "EcoLeaf Environmental Labeling Program.")

2. Procurement

Basic policy

We check parts and materials that are used to make products, to ensure:

  • they do not contain hazardous materials; and
  • they are made via an eco-conscious process.

In this way, we give priority to purchasing eco-conscious parts and materials.

Measures

Brother works with suppliers and uses the IT-based Brother Group Green Procurement Management System to manage data on the chemical substances contained in its products and promote the use of alternative parts and materials. This is regularly updated in response to the candidate list substances of very high concern defined within the REACH Regulation.

Environmental Compliance of Products

3. Production

Basic policy

The Brother Group's manufacturing facilities manufacture products with due consideration given to:

  • ensuring efficient use of materials, energy, and water resources, etc.;
  • reducing pollutants released into the atmosphere and wastewater;
  • preventing the generation of waste; and
  • recycling waste generated.

Measures

  • Electrical power consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by ensuring all manufacturing facilities efficiently run equipment.
  • During the manufacture of products, the manufacturing facilities are carrying out Zero Waste Emission Activities to eliminate landfill waste.

4. Packaging and logistics

Basic policy

Brother is committed to:

  • reducing product packaging and waste where possible; and
  • reducing CO2 emissions in logistics and transportation.

Measures

  • We are applying simpler and smaller packaging.
  • We are combining product categories when arranging shipments to maximize loads.
  • We continue to review distribution routes.

Package Design Optimization [Brother's activities] Package Design Optimization

5. Use

Basic policy

Brother takes the following into consideration regarding customer use of our products:

  • they do not consume excessive energy; and
  • our products can be used safely, conveniently, and comfortably.

We also endeavor to disclose overall environmental information about products.

Examples of environmental labels and energy-saving standard compliance marks awarded to eco-conscious products Examples of environmental labels and energy-saving standard compliance marks awarded to eco-conscious products

Measures

6. Collection and recycling

Basic policy

Brother takes the following into consideration regarding the end of customer use of a product:

  • collect and recycle products and consumables at end of life; and
  • design products so that they can be easily recycled.

Toner Cartridges Recycling [Brother's activities] Technologies and services for cartridge recycling

Measures

  • Ink cartridges consumed in Japan. The Ink Cartridge Return Project is under way in collaboration with printing product manufacturers.
  • Toner cartridges, drum units, and label writer tape cassettes consumed in Japan. Brother's own collection and recycling system is in place.
  • Participating in the Bellmark campaign through collection of used cartridges, and carrying out environmental conservation activities and education support.
  • Toner and ink cartridges consumed outside Japan. Collection and recycling systems in place in more than 40 countries and regions.
  • In Europe, products are collected and recycled in accordance with the WEEE Directive. In Australia and New Zealand, products are collected and recycled on a voluntary basis. Regarding corporate customers in Japan, used Brother products (fax machines, printers, and All-in-Ones) are collected and recycled in collaboration with business partners.

[Brother's activities] Conducting eco activities through the Bellmark campaign (Japan)

Brother Sales, Ltd. joined the Bellmark campaign in order to (i) actively participate in social contribution activities via support for education and (ii) improve the collection rate of used cartridges and promote recycling.

Process for awarding Bellmark points

Examples of products in the Bellmark campaign

Examples of products in the Bellmark campaign

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