Creating Eco-conscious Products
Environmental Considerations within Product Life Cycles
Setting ever higher targets for reducing environmental impact at each stage
The Brother Group is committed to reducing environmental impact at all stages of the life cycle of its products. This is the guiding principle of the group's manufacturing activities.
Since each of the stages are closely interlinked in terms of environmental impact, continuous efforts are required to make incremental improvements and to achieve technological innovation. The Brother Group aims to make such efforts throughout its operations in order to continuously deliver eco-conscious products to customers.
The Brother Group Environmental Action Plan 2015 (2011-2015) set ever-higher targets for each of these stages to accelerate efforts. Specific activities included enhancing eco-conscious design processes and green procurement, continuous reduction in environmental impact at manufacturing facilities (such as CO2 emissions and water consumption), reduction in CO2 emissions in logistics (for example, by optimizing packaging), further improvements in energy-saving performance during product use, and enhancement in the reusability, recyclability, and collection system for either products or consumables.
1. Development and design
Brother products are developed and designed to:
- comply with laws and regulations of the various countries and regions where sold;
- be compact and lightweight to conserve resources;
- achieve the top levels of energy conservation performance in the industry;
- manage hazardous chemical substances, as defined in the Brother Green Procurement Standards;
- be easily recycled at the end of life; and
- meet emission standards.
It is essential to apply at the design stage, environmental considerations for the entire life cycle of a product. For certain key criteria in the product environmental assessments, target values are set at the initial stage of development and design. Improvements must be achieved when compared with previously released products.
Brother Industries, Ltd. (BIL) conducts product environmental assessments at key stages of development and ensures eco-conscious design by addressing the product life cycle from material procurement, production, products use and through to the collection and recycling at the end of life. Also, BIL actively acquires environmental labels in respective countries. For customers in Europe and the U.S. in particular, BIL discloses product information in accordance with The Eco Declaration (ECMA-370) .
Product environmental impact assessment flow
Product environmental impact assessments and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
BIL conducts product environmental impact assessments in order to evaluate the impact that products have on the environment. There are 51 assessment items. For key criteria, improvement must be achieved at the product development stage.
Key Criteria for environmental impact assessment
- Size and weight
- Parts reuse/recyclability, disassembly/dismantling, avoidance of difficult-to-disassemble structures, integration of resin materials
- Hazards during production or use
- Size, weight and recyclability of packaging materials
- Material labeling, compliance with related laws and environmental labels
We conduct an LCA that quantitatively provides numerical data for the "degree of impact on the environment" at each stage of its life cycle. Environmental load characteristics and improvement points are identified and the improvement effect is confirmed for each product. Evaluation results are released on the BIL website showing the products which have acquired various environmental labels and on the website managed and operated by the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry under the name of the EcoLeaf environmental label . BIL also discloses its carbon footprint .
From January 25, 2007, the LCA information has been shared internally on the intranet of BIL. March 2016 saw detailed LCA information published in-house for 89 products (nine products were newly released in FY2015). These are used by the responsible departments and business partners to encourage the development of eco-conscious products. The Brother Group will continue to reduce the environmental impact of products by using LCA techniques.
We check parts and materials that are used to make products, to ensure:
- they do not contain hazardous materials, and
- they are made via an eco-friendly process.
In this way, we give priority to purchasing parts and materials.
Brother works with suppliers and uses the IT-based Brother Green Procurement Management System to manage data on chemicals and promote the use of alternative parts/substances. This is regularly updated in response to the candidate list substances of very high concern defined within the REACH Directive .
Our commitment is to make our factories itself more eco-conscious.
- Eco Factory -
- ensuring efficient use of materials, energy, and water resources, etc.;
- reducing pollutants released into the atmosphere and wastewater;
- preventing the generation of waste; and
- recycling waste generated.
Electrical power consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by ensuring all manufacturing facilities efficiently run equipment.
The factories are also focusing on reducing the volumes of process waste and any waste generated is treated within the scope of zero landfill.
4. Packaging and logistics
From Flat to Upright Our breakthrough has led to a remarkably eco-friendly packaging.
- Package Design Optimization -
Brother is committed to:
- reducing product packaging and waste where possible; and
- reducing CO2 emissions in distribution and transport.
- We are applying simpler and smaller packaging.
- We are combining product categories when arranging shipments to maximize loads.
- We continue to review distribution routes.
Consideration for our customers' use of our products:
- they do not consume excessive energy; and
- our products can be used safely, conveniently and comfortably.
We also endeavor to disclose overall environmental information about products.
We are strengthening development of eco-friendly products focusing on energy conservation.
Aiming at an infinite supply of zero standby power.
- Low Energy Standby -
6. Collection and recycling
As considerations for the end of life of a product, we make efforts to:
- collect and recycle products and consumables at end of life; and
- design products so that they can be easily recycled.
- Ink cartridges consumed in Japan: The "Ink Cartridge Return Project" is under way in collaboration with printing product manufacturers.
- Toner cartridges, drum units, and P-touch tape cassettes consumed in Japan: Brother's own collection and recycling system is in place.
- Toner and ink cartridges consumed outside Japan: Collection and recycling systems have been introduced in many countries and regions.
- In Europe, products are collected and recycled in accordance with the WEEE Directive. In Australia and New Zealand, products are collected and recycled on a voluntary basis. Regarding corporate customers in Japan, used Brother products (fax machines, printers, and All-in-Ones) are collected and recycled in collaboration with business partners.
[Brother's activities] Conducting eco activities through the Bellmark campaign (Japan)
Brother Sales, Ltd. joined the Bellmark campaign in April 2011 in order to (i) actively participate in social contribution activities via support for education and (ii) improve the collection rate of used cartridges and promote recycling.
Examples of products in the Bellmark campaign
[Brother's activities] Promoting the reuse of monochrome toner cartridges
Monochrome toner cartridges
Mie Brother Precision Industries, Ltd. works on reusing toner cartridges for monochrome laser printers.
Collected used toner cartridges undergo sorting, disassembly, cleaning, and parts replacement for reuse. To further reduce environmental impact, the company shares information with recycling facilities in Europe and the Americas as needed, and is continually improving the methods of reusing toner cartridges.