Reducing Environmental Impact

Preventing Pollution

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 procurement of parts and materials to development, design, use, collection, reuse, and recycling), placing priority on maintaining compliance with legal regulations and preventing environmental pollution in the respective countries/regions in which Brother operates.

Managing and reducing chemical substances

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). Of substances subject to PRTR used in FY2016 (April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017), toluene and styrene had to be reported. Toluene (15.6 tons) was treated and rendered harmless using a catalytic combustion system. Thus, the total amount of these two substances handled was 27.53 tons, and the amount transferred and released was 11.97 tons.

Flow of Substances Subject to PRTR at BIL

Flow of Substances Subject to PRTR at BIL

Scope of aggregation (including the amount handled by affiliated companies):
Hoshizaki Manufacturing Facility, Minato Manufacturing Facility, Mizuho Manufacturing Facility, Momozono Manufacturing Facility, Kariya Manufacturing Facility, Research & Development Center
* Only the Kariya Manufacturing Facility handled more than one ton.

Transformers and capacitors that contain PCBs are collected at one place, strictly controlled, and delivered to certified contractors for treatment. In line with the policy of the national government, BIL finished contracting the treatment of high-concentration PCB waste (that requires high priority treatment) from 2006 to 2009. Regarding PCB waste (e.g. ballasts for fluorescent lamps and low-concentration PCB waste) that is instructed to be stored properly until treatment method and equipment are in place, the City of Nagoya organized a seminar in October 2014, and BIL formulated a treatment plan in FY2015 (April 1, 2015-March 31, 2016) in response to the seminar. BIL earmarked a budget and started to contract the treatment in stages. The high-concentration PCB waste and low-concentration PCB-containing waste that could be newly treated at the contractor were treated in accordance with the acceptance plan of the treatment contractor.

Contaminated waste including ballasts for fluorescent lamps was registered for carry-in style of packing in FY2015 (i.e. registration for carrying in waste by concluding a treatment contract). Carry-in and treatment was scheduled to be completed in FY2017 (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018). However, the waste is expected to be treated in FY2020 (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021) because the treatment contractor rescheduled its treatment plan. Regarding PCB-containing apparatuses, investigation and treatment were performed at group companies, and the investigation was completed in FY2016. Treatment will be promoted in stages depending on the types of apparatuses.

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 pollution prevention

BIL 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.

VOC treatment facility (BTSL)
VOC treatment facility (BTSL)

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. In FY2015, BTSL set up VOC treatment facilities and implemented measures for reducing emissions.

Preventing water pollution

Wastewater treatment facility (BMV)
Wastewater treatment facility (BMV)

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

In 1997, BIL launched surveys for contamination of soil and underground water by organochlorine compounds and hazardous heavy metals that the company used historically. Pollutant leakage prevention and remediation measures have been undertaken in zones that were found to have been contaminated. All contaminated zones, when found, have been reported to the local government that has jurisdiction over this issue.

When selling or modifying land owned by BIL, soil analyses have been conducted in accordance with legally prescribed standards.

When purchasing land outside Japan and planning the construction of manufacturing facilities from FY2010 (April 1, 2010-March 31, 2011), historic land use surveys and soil analyses have been conducted in order to identify and verify the pollution status.

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.

In FY2016, the underground hazardous substance storage facility at the main factory was reestablished as a facility above ground. The status of the underground water is confirmed to be normal based on monitoring. At the site of the former headquarters, a purification project was launched based on microbiological methods to prevent the pollution from spreading. It has been confirmed that the purification project is progressing well.

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. In FY2015, BTSL (a manufacturing facility outside Japan) implemented a new measure to prevent the generation of noise. Specifically, BTSL set up a noise prevention system at the water treatment facility. In FY2016, ongoing efforts were 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.

In FY2016, Nissei reduced 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 the aluminum melting furnace (to reduce the noise generated when raw materials were charged). These measures helped reduce the noise level to below 50 dB, which met the values for the boundary of the site as set forth in the agreement with Anjo City (60 dB or less during the daytime, 55 dB or less during the nighttime).