Pollution Prevention and Chemical Substance Management



Risks and Opportunities Arising from Environmental Pollution

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 (product development and design; procurement of parts and materials; production; packaging and logistics; use by customers; and 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.

  • Increases in environmental impact and loss of biodiversity due to air, water, and soil pollution, etc. caused by leakage and outflow of hazardous chemical substances
  • Increases in management cost and capital investment due to tightening of environmental laws and regulations inside and outside Japan
  • Damages stemming from environmental pollution or health damage, and costs incurred for pollution removal
  • Delay in business operations due to cancellation of sales or modification of land because of discovered soil pollution, and costs incurred to clean the soil
  • Stoppage or delay in operations due to pollution removal and unplanned additional measures
  • Social sanctions due to improper handling of incidents of soil pollution or accidents
  • Reduction in asset value due to soil pollution
  • Conservation of biodiversity through preventing leakage or outflow of hazardous chemical substances
  • Permanent pollution prevention and management cost reduction through maintaining a high level of compliance awareness
  • Societal trust improvement and business opportunity expansion through consistent prevention of soil pollution and accidents
  • Asset value improvement through consistent prevention of soil pollution 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 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 FY2021, 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. Then in July 2021, a small amount of PCB was detected in the insulating oil of high-voltage transformers during the disposal of the inactive transformer units. We immediately inspected the transformers of all the transformer facilities and completed the disposal of the four units in which small amounts of PCB were detected by the end of September 2022. In March 2023, spark killer capacitors containing low concentrations of PCB were discovered in dormant facilities and are being stored and managed in accordance with the law. We plan to complete disposal of these in FY2023.

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 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 in a timely manner. 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.

For the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, an exhaust gas treatment system was introduced in 1994 to the coating process installed at Brother's Kariya Manufacturing Facility in order to control VOC emissions and prevent odors. Additionally, BIL is switching to materials with lower organic solvent content and reducing their usage. Meanwhile, BTSL sets up VOC treatment system in 2015 for the emissions from the processes used to form resin products and manufacture printed wiring boards for mounting parts. At the same time, the VOC treatment facilities are working toward preventing air pollution.

Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd. is continuing its efforts to prevent air pollution through measures such as upgrading exhaust gas treatment system in 2021 and making improvements to connect to a VOC treatment system in FY2022 for more efficient removal of pollutants in the exhaust gases from the high-temperature treatment process.

Brother Technology (Shenzhen) Ltd.: VOC treatment system Brother Technology (Shenzhen) Ltd.: VOC treatment system Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd.: VOC treatment system Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd.: VOC treatment system

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 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. However, in FY2022, due to stricter standard in the country where one of our manufacturing facilities is located, the amount of n-hexane extract is now 1.5 times higher than the new standard value. In order to meet this new standard, we are considering measures such as expanding the capacity of grease traps and increasing the frequency of cleaning.

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 (technology center) 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 June 2022, under the guidance of Nagoya City, BIL is conducting 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.

In FY2020, during road maintenance within Minato Factory's premises and warehouse construction in the adjacent land, BIL carried out soil and underground water surveys in accordance with the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act. As a result, in sections of Minato Factory and parts of the adjacent land, chloroethylene, 1,2-dichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, cyanogen compounds, hexavalent chromium compounds, arsenic and its compounds, fluorine and its compounds, and lead and its compounds were detected, all exceeding the specified standards. Therefore, the results of the soil survey were submitted to Nagoya City.

Trichloroethylene, cyanogen compounds, hexavalent chromium compounds, arsenic and its compounds, fluorine and its compounds, and lead and its compounds had been used on this land in the past. However, the use of tetrachloroethylene has not been confirmed. Chloroethylene and 1,2-dichloroethylene are decomposition products of substances that were used. Measures are being taken to prevent the spread of pollution of the polluted soil and underground water. Under administrative guidance, appropriate steps such as soil improvement as well as setting up an observation well for the monitoring of underground water continued to be taken in FY2021.

In FY2022, a soil contamination survey was conducted for construction work in the head office factory of Brother subsidiary Nissei Corporation (Nissei), and fluorine and its compounds were detected. The results of the survey were reported to Aichi Prefecture, and appropriate action was taken based on administrative guidance.

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 implemented further measures to reduce the noise affecting its neighborhood by relocating the die-cast machine away from the direction of the housing lots within the factory in FY2016, and stopping and scrapping a large melting furnace to reduce the noise generated when raw materials were charged.

Water Pollution Load*

FY2018 FY2019 FY2020 FY2021 FY2022
Water pollution load(t) BOD 19.6 25.0 37.8 29.3 31.2
COD 40.4 46.1 95.3 68.4 48.1
N-hexane extracts content 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.5 1.5
SS 44.1 13.8 29.4 12.0 15.6

The scope of aggregation was directly related to the product range.
For the list of applicable sites, see page 8 of "Material balance" [PDF/588KB].

  • The calculation method was revised.

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