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 on a groupwide scale, 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 a burning process that reaches temperatures of 1,450℃, our cement plants detoxify and make effective use of industrial waste and other difficult-to-treat materials without generating any waste. As well as using substances such as construction sludge, coal ash, copper slag byproducts from copper smelters, and gypsum as raw materials, we also turn materials such as plastic, tires and wood back into cement, by using them as a source of thermal energy.
To deal with chlorine contained in waste products, which can affect plant operations and the quality of cement, we have installed and continue to upgrade high performance chlorine bypass facilities at each of our plants. To further promote the effective use of waste products meanwhile, we are committed to strengthening the capabilities of our waste processing facilities, through measures such as upgrading pre-treatment facilities for waste plastic and processing facilities for waste gypsum board.
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
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 40 years now. Our system is uniquely integrated within the group and enables us to process 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.
Home appliances are made by combinations of various materials such as glass, plastic and rubber as well as metals such as steel, aluminum, and 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 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 process. Thus, we maximize the effect of synergies within our group. In fiscal 2017, we recycled 2,123 thousand units of home appliances at six plants of our five affiliated companies. The recycling of this volume could reduce landfill disposal equivalent to approximately 100,000 tons.
|Compared to sending used appliances to landfill and manufacturing new materials from natural resources||Effect||Total|
|Reduction in CO2 emissions||117,000 tons|
|Reduction in consumption of natural resources||118,000 tons|
|Reduction in energy consumption||54,000 tons|
|Reduction in waste sent to landfill||10,100 tons|
The above table does not take into account the impact of recovering fluorocarbons*. Expressed in terms of CO2 emissions, recovering approximately 500 tons of fluorocarbons would equate to a reduction of approximately 1,300,000 tons.
* Fluorocarbons refrigerants used in air conditionings, refrigerators and washing machines, and fluorocarbons insulation materials used in refrigerators
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, and materials that function as flame retardants and antistatic agents, 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 alternative raw materials for fluorite ever since fiscal 2007, and are now able 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.