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Toward a Sustainable Society

Preventing Pollution and Managing Chemical Substances


Preventing pollution associated with different sources

To become an environmentally advanced company, the Brother Group is committed to continually reducing environmental impact under the Brother Group Environmental Policy, throughout the life cycle of products (from development and design of products, procurement of parts and materials to production, packaging and logistics, use by customers, collection, and recycling), placing priority on maintaining compliance with legal regulations and preventing environmental pollution in the respective countries and regions in which Brother operates. The risks and opportunities of environmental pollution are recognized as follows. Efforts have been made to prevent pollution through ISO 14001 activities, etc.

  • Increased environmental impact due to air, water, and soil pollution, etc. caused by leakage and outflow of hazardous chemical substances, and loss of biodiversity
  • Increase in management cost and capital investment due to reinforced environmental laws and regulations in and outside Japan
  • Compensation due to environmental pollution and health damage, and decontamination costs
  • Delay in business operations due to cancellation of sales or modification of land if soil pollution is found, and cost incurred to clean the land
  • Operation suspension/postponement caused by decontamination and unexpected additional measures
  • Social sanctions due to inappropriate responses to soil contamination or accidents
  • Asset value decline due to soil contamination
  • Biodiversity conservation by preventing leakage and outflow of hazardous chemical substances
  • Permanent pollution prevention by maintaining a high compliance awareness & reduction in management cost
  • Enhanced social trust by preventing soil contamination and accidents, and expended business chances
  • Asset value improvement by preventing soil contamination and accidents

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 the business sites in FY1997 (April 1, 1997-March 31, 1998).

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. Regarding high-concentration PCB waste, BIL has disposed of 2,468 units including capacitors and ballasts for fluorescent lamps. Regarding low-concentration PCB waste, BIL has disposed of 41 units of waste electrical equipment including transformers, capacitors, etc. Regarding waste PCB oil, BIL will complete the disposal of about 70 kg by the end of FY2019.
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 Proper Management of Fluorocarbons came into force (April 2015). This system enables centralized and real-time monitoring 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 from 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

Replacing fossil fuel-fired boilers and heaters with electric or city gas-fired boilers and heaters has reduced the impact of emissions to the environment. In fact, city gas has a low CO2 emission coefficient. Thus, efforts are underway to prevent air pollution.

The risks of global warming due to CO2 emissions, as well as soil and underground water contamination have been reduced due to the abolishment of heavy oil-fired boilers at all business sites of BIL including employees' dormitories.

Solar water heaters and heat pump equipment have replaced the oil boilers used for employees' dormitories at manufacturing facilities outside Japan. The electricity supply for Brother Technology (Shenzhen) Ltd. (BTSL) in Huanan, China, had been private power generation systems (fueled by heavy oil). They were replaced by the city's public utility service, thus reducing the risk of air pollution, CO2 emissions and underground water pollution.

A catalytic combustor was introduced in 1994 to the coating process at the Kariya Manufacturing Facility to reduce VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. Exhaust gases are burned to control VOC emissions and prevent odors. Ongoing measures also include switching to materials with low organic solvent content and reducing consumption. BTSL set up VOC treatment facilities and implements measures for reducing emissions from the processes used to form resin products and manufacture printed wiring boards for mounting parts.

Preventing water pollution

Measures to prevent water pollution include wastewater treatment facilities introduced at manufacturing facilities, such as at the Kariya Manufacturing Facility (in Japan) to treat its wastewater with the latest membrane bioreactor (in FY2011 [April 1, 2011-March 31, 2012]), Brother Industries Saigon, Ltd. (in Vietnam) to treat wastewater from the parts cleaning process, Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd. (in China) to treat its pre-coating surface treatment wastewater, Taiwan Brother Industries, Ltd. to treat pre-coating surface treatment wastewater, and Brother Industries (Vietnam) Ltd. (which expanded its factory in 2012) to replace 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. (BMV), 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 exercises to assess for potential incidents such as hazardous wastewater flowing into sewage or permeating into soil. Other specific preventative measures include equipping wastewater treatment facilities with systems which constantly monitor COD (chemical oxygen demand) and installing oil traps for wastewater from cafeterias, to cope with an oil outflow accident. BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) and n-hexane extracts (an index of the oil content in water, etc.) are regularly measured and monitored.

Preventing soil contamination

Since 1997 Brother Industries, Ltd, has been conducting a survey on soil and underground water pollution caused by organochlorine compounds and hazardous heavy metal, which was used by the company in the past. Once contamination is confirmed, we conduct measures to prevent spread of pollutant as well as cleanup and also report to the local government that has jurisdiction. At the sales or change of the company-owned land, we conduct soil surveys in accordance with regulatory standards.
When we purchase a land outside Japan to build a plant, we conduct a survey to check the usage history as well as soil analysis to fully grasp/confirm the status of pollution.
At Nissei Corporation (Nissei), a manufacturer of reducers and high precision gears, etc., a survey conducted in FY2015 found that the soil and underground water at the main factory had been contaminated with lead and its compounds due to damage to the hazardous substance storage facility. At the parking lot of the site of the former headquarters, the soil was found to be contaminated with organochlorine compounds. Nissei reported the contaminations to the local government that has jurisdiction, and coped with the problems properly based on guidance offered by the local government. The status of the underground water is confirmed to be normal based on 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, facilities that cause noise or vibration such as chillers and exhaust outlets are installed or relocated as far away within the manufacturing facilities as possible. To prevent the generation of noise, BTSL (a manufacturing facility outside Japan) has 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 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) and stopping and scrapping a large melting furnace (to reduce the noise generated when raw materials were charged) in FY2016.

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