It has been a decade since parent company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. establishment its landmark Environmental Charter in 1991 -- a document through which Panasonic pledges “the prudent, sustainable use of the earth's resources and the protection of the natural environment.”
Panasonic companies have recorded several groundbreaking and award-winning environmental milestones, including total elimination of specified ozone-depleting chemicals (CFCs) in the manufacturing process, an achievement that earned an award of excellence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1993-94.
- In 1994 Panasonic played a leading role in establishing the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC). This organization is recognized as a model recycling program in both the U.S. and Canada.
- In 1999, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy presented its prestigious Energy Star award in recognition of the extensive lineup of Panasonic energy-saving products. Additional Energy Star awards followed in 2000 and 2001, marking Panasonic as a clear industry leader in producing electronics products that safeguard the environment.
- In 2000, the Japanese government recognized Panasonic's worldwide environmental efforts, presenting the company in Japan with the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award. Panasonic has also received a wide range of additional honors, including awards for energy-saving products, promotion of recycling, energy management, preservation of water quality and global warming prevention.
- In 1999 Panasonic's sustainability efforts enabled the launch of the world's first wide screen television with halogen-free wiring and components.
- Since the end of fiscal year 1998, Panasonic has produced six million units using lead-free solder. Now, demonstrating its continued commitment to policies outlined in the Environmental Charter, Panasonic has announced its commitment to completely remove lead solder from all its products by the end of fiscal year 2002.
- In terms of clean, reduced-emissions factories, Panasonic is a worldwide leader in total number of ISO 14001 certified production plants. Each of these almost 250 certified Panasonic production facilities reflects the highest global standards in waste reduction.
- In August 2000, Panasonic announced two ambitious environmental targets for all its manufacturing plants in Japan.
- By fiscal year 2004, Panasonic has set a goal of reducing use and discharge of chemical substances by 50% over fiscal year 1998 levels.
- By fiscal year 2010, Panasonic said it intends to counter the serious industry-wide trend of increasing CO2 emissions and consumption by achieving a seven percent decrease in CO2 emissions/consumption from levels recorded in fiscal year 1990.
- Panasonic also maintains a strong focus on developing environmentally friendly products -- which aim to reduce the environmental burden throughout a product's full lifecycle -- and establishing recycling systems that reduce the environmental impact of industrial production.
- One standard-setting recycling practice developed by Panasonic, the application of an original plastic-molding technique to metals, enabled Panasonic in 1998 to be the first in the world to utilize magnesium alloys in televisions, PCs and MD players.
According to a company press release, Panasonic's new Eco Technology Center, a high-tech facility in Yashiro, Japan, is a success. The center is devoted to recycling Panasonic televisions, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, the product categories outlined in Japan's new Electric Appliance Recycling Law.
The company also works with a network of independent recycling firms throughout Japan, just as Panasonic units are also doing in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Another key for the future of corporate environmental efforts, the company says, will be aggressive post-consumer and post-industrial content recycling. Although this is a relatively new process for all electronics manufacturers, Panasonic said it is moving quickly to incorporate previously used material into its products.
In the United States, as an example, the large funnel components of the cathode-ray TV tubes manufactured at Panasonic's massive Troy, OH, plant already contain seven percent post-industrial and one percent post-consumer glass.
Established in Osaka, Japan in 1918, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., recorded sales of $61.45 billion for the fiscal year ended March 2001. Matsushita Electric and its affiliates (“Panasonic”) have more than 290,000 employees in 46 countries.