Preventing pollution associated with different sources
Under the Brother Group Environmental Policy, we are working to maintain compliance with laws and regulations and prevent environmental pollution in each country and region in which we operate, throughout the life cycle of our products (from product development and design; procurement of parts and materials; and production, packaging, and logistics; to use by customers, collection, and recycling). Furthermore, the Brother Group is committed to continuously reducing our environmental impact, recognizes the risks and opportunities of environmental pollution as follows, and is making efforts to prevent pollution through ISO 14001 activities, etc.
Managing and reducing chemical substances
Main activities at business sites in Japan
Brother Industries, Ltd. (BIL) participated in a priority review in line with the introduction of the PRTR system by KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation) in 1998. BIL started to report the amount of chemical substances transferred and released, starting with those used at business sites in FY1997 (April 1, 1997–March 31, 1998). As in previous years, BIL has been making serious efforts toward managing and reporting chemical substances under PRTR Law. In FY2019, BIL reported the balance of chemical substances as follows. Going forward, we will continue with appropriate management and reporting of chemical substances from FY2021 onwards.
Since 2008, BIL has systematically commissioned disposal in accordance with the Act on Special Measures concerning Promotion of Proper Treatment of PCB Wastes. At the end of FY2017, BIL completed the commissioning of disposal of all electrical equipment containing waste PCB oil. The high-concentration PCB waste BIL has disposed of includes 2,468 units, such as capacitors and ballasts for fluorescent lamps; and the low-concentration PCB waste disposed of includes 41 units of end-of-life electrical equipment, such as transformers and capacitors. BIL also disposed of approximately 70 kg of waste PCB oil in FY2019. Contaminated materials such as waste cloth generated during disposal were disposed of by the end of June 2020. Also, because newly discovered inventory of ballasts for fluorescent lamps was found in 2019 in areas such as infrequently used stockrooms under stairwells in older manufacturing facilities, all stockrooms that had not been converted to LEDs were checked. Disposal of all ballasts for fluorescent lamps was completed by the end of June 2020. Furthermore, in April 2020, in response to an announcement by the Ministry of the Environment about the possibility of PCB having been used in non-private use electrical equipment such as elevators, BIL conducted an investigation and reconfirmed that there was no new PCB waste.
Regarding fluorocarbons, air conditioning equipment has been managed using the refrigerant management system of the Japan Refrigerants and Environment Conservation Organization (JRECO) since 2015 after the Act on Rational Use and Appropriate Management of Fluorocarbons came into force (April 2015). This system enables centralized and real-time monitoring of the operating statuses of about 1,600 air conditioners at BIL in Japan.
Main activities at manufacturing facilities outside Japan
Manufacturing facilities outside Japan have identified applicable laws and regulations in respective regions within ISO 14001 systems. Management frameworks have also been established to ensure local environmental management. The Brother Green Procurement Management System is in operation with collaboration with suppliers to carefully select parts, materials and sub-materials used in production processes to prevent contamination with harmful chemical substances.
Concept of preventing air, water, and soil pollution
The Brother Group gives high priority to preventing environmental accidents by reviewing target facilities and processes and switching to alternatives that are less likely to cause pollution. When managing existing facilities, activities to prevent pollution include setting and complying with voluntary management targets through ISO 14001.
Preventing air pollution
The Brother Group is striving to prevent air pollution. For example, we have replaced fossil fuel-fired boilers and heaters with electric or city gas-fired boilers and heaters, thus reducing the impact of emissions on the environment. City gas has a low CO2 emission coefficient.
BIL has abolished heavy oil-fired boilers, which contribute to air pollution, at all of our business sites, including employees' dormitories. Solar water heaters and heat pump equipment have mainly replaced the heavy-oil fired boilers used for employees' dormitories at manufacturing facilities outside Japan. The electricity supply for Brother Technology (Shenzhen) Ltd. (BTSL) in Huanan, China, which had relied on private power generation systems fueled by heavy oil, was replaced by the city's public utility service. Through these initiatives, BIL is reducing the risks of air pollution and global warming caused by CO2 emissions, as well as soil and underground water contamination.
A catalytic combustor was introduced in 1994 to the coating process installed at Brother's Kariya Manufacturing Facility to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. Exhaust gases are burned to control VOC emissions and prevent odors. Additionally, BIL is switching to materials with lower organic solvent content and reducing their usage. Meanwhile, BTSL set up VOC treatment facilities in 2015 and is implementing measures for reducing emissions from the processes used to form resin products and manufacture printed wiring boards for mounting parts.
Preventing water pollution
BIL is taking the following measures to prevent water pollution:
In FY2011, BIL installed a wastewater treatment facility at the Kariya Manufacturing Facility to treat our wastewater with the latest membrane bioreactor.
Brother Industries Saigon, Ltd. in Vietnam to treat wastewater from the parts cleaning process, Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd. in China to treat coating pretreatment wastewater, and Taiwan Brother Industries, Ltd. established wastewater treatment facilities to treat coating pretreatment wastewater. Brother Industries (Vietnam) Ltd., which expanded its manufacturing facility in 2012, upgraded the conventional wastewater treatment facility with a biofilm type facility. The increased treatment capacity has significantly lowered the environmental impact values of wastewater.
At Brother Machinery Vietnam Co., Ltd., which was established in 2013, a wastewater purification plant was introduced. Waste heat generated in the manufacturing facility is utilized to remove the water content of the wastewater from the coating pretreatment process, reducing the volume to sludge. By eliminating the waste fluid, the solid waste is appropriately treated. Other business sites do not have specified activities that cause significant environmental impact. At sites without sewage infrastructure, facilities have been installed to clean sewage and treat the resulting wastewater. These facilities comply with regional standards in accordance with the ISO 14001 facility management procedure.
As part of Brother's preventative measures, we periodically conduct emergency drills for hypothetical incidents such as hazardous wastewater flowing into sewage, public water sources, or permeating into soil. Other specific preventative measures include equipping wastewater treatment facilities with systems which constantly monitor chemical oxygen demand (COD) and installing oil traps for wastewater from cafeterias, to cope with an oil outflow accident. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and n-hexane extracts (an index of the oil content in water, etc.) are regularly measured and monitored.
Preventing soil contamination
In 1997, BIL began investigating the status of soil and groundwater contamination by chlorinated organic compounds and harmful heavy metals used inside our manufacturing facilities in the past. In areas where contamination was found, BIL took actions to prevent the contaminating substances from spreading, implemented purification measures, and also submitted reports to the local governments having jurisdiction over the manufacturing facilities.
Before selling or modifying company-owned land, BIL carries out a soil survey in accordance with legal standards.
In FY2019, BIL carried out soil and underground water surveys in accordance with the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act, in conjunction with partial dismantling and reconstruction of a manufacturing facility building with seismic isolation functions inside the Hoshizaki Manufacturing Facility and work to construct a machine tool show room inside the Kariya Manufacturing Facility site. As a result, fluorine and its compounds, arsenic and its compounds, hexavalent chromium compounds, along with lead and its compounds were detected in some sections of the Hoshizaki Manufacturing Facility, all exceeding the specified standards. Fluorine and its compounds, exceeding both the soil elution amount standard and the groundwater standard were detected in some sections of the Kariya Manufacturing Facility. None of these contaminating substances affect human bodies if not directly placed in the mouth.
For the fluorine, lead, and their compounds detected at the Hoshizaki Manufacturing Facility, records show that they were used in parts of the surveyed area. However, the amounts of fluorine and its compounds detected were greater than their usage, and lead and its compounds were detected only outside the area where they had been used. Arsenic and its compounds and hexavalent chromium compounds were detected even though there is no record of their usage, and it is difficult to identify the cause. As of July 2020, under the guidance of Nagoya City, BIL started excavation and removal of the contaminated soil, as well as backfilling with clean soil. Groundwater is continuously monitored in an observation well and appropriate actions are taken.
The fluorine and its compounds detected at the Kariya Manufacturing Facility were found outside the area where they had been used. Since there are no records of accidents, leakage, or disposal, it is difficult to identify the cause of the contamination. As of July 2020, under the guidance of Aichi Prefecture, the excavated contaminated soil has been removed and properly disposed of, and the area has been backfilled with clean soil. For groundwater, appropriate steps are being taken, such as setting up an observation well and carrying out monitoring.
Preventing generation of noise, vibration, and offensive odors
BIL takes great care to prevent the generation of noise, vibration, and offensive odors, so as not to cause inconvenience to local communities including homes, schools, and pedestrians.
To prevent the generation of noise and vibration, manufacturing facilities that cause noise or vibration such as chillers and exhaust outlets were installed or relocated as far away from the community as possible into the internal area of the facilities.
To prevent the generation of noise, BTSL (a manufacturing facility outside Japan) set up a noise prevention system at the water treatment facility. Ongoing efforts have been made to prevent noise by using noise-absorbing flexible ducts and replacing exhaust fans with inverter-driven types, in particular. To prevent the generation of offensive odors, filters and/or deodorizing equipment are provided at exhaust outlets at various facilities, including coating facilities. Measures in the coating process also include switching to paints with lower organic solvent content (which gives rise to offensive odor) and reducing the consumption of paints.
For measures to prevent noise and offensive odors, facilities that cause noise and offensive odors are buried underground. For example, an underground type water tank has been employed at the new wastewater treatment facility that was built at the Kariya Manufacturing Facility in FY2011. In particular, noise and offensive odors are measured when facilities are built, and then constantly monitored after construction is complete.
Nissei Corporation implemented further measures to reduce the noise affecting its neighborhood by relocating the die-cast machine within the factory (away from the direction of the housing lots) in FY2016, and stopping and scrapping a large melting furnace to reduce the noise generated when raw materials were charged.