Strengthening Global Resource Circulation
Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, is ‘Responsible consumption and production’. The actions that organizations are urged to take in order to meet this goal include the efficient use of natural resources, the appropriate management of chemical substances and waste products throughout the entire product life cycle, and significant reductions in the volume of pollutants emitted into the air, water, and soil. In addition, in March 2022, the European Commission announced the first package of measures in its Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), which is pivotal to the new Circular Economy Action Plan formulated in March 2020. Following this, in November 2022 the second package of measures was released with revised rules on packaging and packaging waste as well as a plastic circulation policy framework with directives for bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. In March 2023, further proposals were adopted on green claims and product sustainability. Regarding the series of sustainable product standardization packages for the EU market in these announcements, companies need to closely monitor future trends.
The Problem of Plastic Waste
According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the volume of plastic waste generated globally is forecast to triple by 2060 from its 2019 level of 353 million tons. While the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) held in February 2022 acknowledged the usefulness of plastics, it also noted that the problem of plastic pollution is global in scale and includes the contamination of our oceans. It was decided that an intergovernmental negotiating committee would be established in the second half of 2022 with the task of formulating a legally binding global agreement to be finalized by the end of 2024. In view of these developments, companies need to implement plastic resource circulation throughout the life cycles of their products.
The Fujitsu Group’s Position
Aiming for Resource Circulation
The Fujitsu Group has a long-standing commitment to the “three R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle) relating to plastics and other resources. We are conducting ongoing discussions around resource circulation for our products, including reuse, recycling and the use of recycled materials, particularly in view of the acceleration of global action and the abovementioned announcement of Europe’s new Circular Economy Action Plan in March 2020. We are continuing to promote the use of recycled plastics in our IT products, switching from plastic to cardboard packaging materials, and reducing the number of components used in our products while making them smaller, thinner, and lighter. Another focus for Fujitsu is the recycling of resources from used IT products and from waste generated at business sites. One of the targets we have been working towards in our Environmental Action Plan is the reuse of resources in used IT products. Having reached a resource reuse rate of over 90% for IT products used in business, we are now continuing our efforts by focusing on our management targets. In light of the urgent need to address the problem of plastic waste, as outlined above, we are promoting initiatives that target packaging materials and other plastic waste. Changes in our business model are also resulting in reduced volumes of waste as we bolster our efforts to further limit waste and recycle resources in order to make a stronger contribution to a society oriented toward resource circulation.
Responses to the Plastic Resource Circulation Act
In response to environmental changes, both in Japan and overseas, involving the waste from products that use plastic, there is increasing demand for resource circulation of plastic products. This ranges from limiting the use of plastic products through to having local and municipal governments recycle plastics for use in other products, and developing regimes that will promote voluntary plastics collection and recycling by businesses. In line with this trend, Japan promulgated the “Plastic Resource Circulation Act” in June 2021. This Act targets the plastics used in a wide range of products and promotes measures to recycle plastic resources in each stage of a product’s life, from design right through to the treatment of plastic waste (3R + Renewable).
Fujitsu is designated as a “high-volume waste emitter” under the legislation, and as such, has set targets for recycling and limiting the production of plastic waste and is promoting activities in line with those targets.
Target: Promotion of zero-emissions activities for plastic waste and greater use of returnable plastics
FY2022 plastic waste volume: 1,347tons