The Mitsubishi Materials Group is a complex corporate entity encompassing a wide range of technologies and expertise, from resources upstream to materials midstream to processed products downstream.
We have continued to make the most of those capabilities across different sectors, in an effort to establish a recycling-oriented business model based on recovering resources from a wide range of waste products.
We strive to create cyclical value chains in each of our businesses, so that resources and materials are processed into products and then recycled back into materials. As well as enabling sustainable growth, this also helps to promote recycling-oriented social systems.
Using an ultra-high temperature burning process, our cement plants detoxify and make effective use of industrial waste and other difficult-to-treat materials. As well as using substances such as construction sludge, coal ash, copper slag byproducts from copper smelters, and gypsum as raw materials to make cement, we use waste materials such as plastic, tires and wood as a source of thermal energy.
As chlorine contained in waste products such as these can affect plant operations and the quality of cement, we have installed and are upgrading high performance chlorine bypass facilities at each of our plants. This is all part of our commitment to further stabilizing intake of waste and byproducts.
We use smelting technology for the purpose of recycling at our smelters and refineries. We take in a wide variety of scrap, including shredder dust and used batteries from sources such as used home appliances or scrap vehicles, and E-scrap from sources such as used substrates and connectors. We then recycle scrap, by using it for raw materials or thermal energy, and recover valuable metals.
We also take in clinker dust, as a byproduct from our cement plants, and use components such as calcium as auxiliary raw materials for smelting. After use, clinker dust turns into copper slag, which is then recycled back into raw materials at our cement plants.
PGM* are rare metals that are found in copper concentrate. Group company Materials Eco-Refining Co., Ltd. refines PGM intermediate materials obtained from our Naoshima Smelter & Refinery, to create products such as metals and chemical compounds.
Platinum and palladium in particular are key materials in the automotive, electric and electronic sectors. With that in mind, we applied to register our brand with the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM), as a means of offering market assurance, and successfully obtained certification in September 2012. We are determined to keep on improving the quality of our products, and make every effort to ensure stable supplies of rare metals.
*PGM: Platinum Group Metals
Waste containing rare metals is often found in the form of “urban mines,” which contain such a high percentage of rare metals that it is possible to extract them more efficiently than obtaining metals from natural resources. A prime example is tungsten, the main raw material used in cemented carbide products. Making the most of the Mitsubishi Materials Group's comprehensive capabilities as a manufacturer, from raw materials through to finished products, we are currently focusing on recycling used cemented carbide products in an effort to secure stable supplies of raw materials.
We manufacture a range of fluorine compounds at Group company Mitsubishi Materials Electronic Chemicals Co., Ltd., including materials for use in semiconductor manufacturing, flame retardants, antistatic agents and other functional materials, as well as hydrofluoric acid. We also recover calcium fluoride sludge produced by companies using fluorine compounds. We have been recycling sludge back into fluorine resources that can be used as an alternative raw material for fluorite ever since fiscal 2007, enabling us to substitute a high percentage of resources as part of our operations.
We remain fully committed to recycling fluorine resources in the future, through continued technical innovation.
Each kind of home appliances is made up of various combinations of many parts of which the materials are glass, plastic and rubber as well as metals such as steel, aluminum, copper. Home appliances are first of all disassembled manually, then crushed and sorted at our home appliances recycling plants. We have adopted several advanced sorting process for components and materials, and are always trying to create more added value from recovered materials and to improve recycling efficiency. We recover copper and other precious metals from recovered copper-based materials and printed circuit boards in our copper smelting works. Thus, we utilize synergies to the fullest extent within our group. In fiscal 2016, we recycled 2.145 million units of home appliances at six plants of our subsidiary five companies. The recycling of this volume could reduce landfill disposal equivalent to approximately 100,000 tons.
We have been operating a total CAN TO CAN recycling system within the Mitsubishi Materials Group (Universal Can Corp. and Mitsubishi Aluminum Co., Ltd.), based on a cycle of can manufacturing, collecting, melting, casting and rolling, for over 30 years now. Our system is uniquely integrated within the Group and enables us to process around 40,000 tons of used beverage cans (UBC) on a leading scale domestically, thereby helping to conserve aluminum resources. We also do our bit to prevent global warming by manufacturing slabs of recycled aluminum from UBC. As this only requires about 3% as much energy as manufacturing aluminum from scratch, it enables us to substantially reduce energy consumption, and it also enables us to contribute to preventing global warming.