Photo of Kiyoto Furuta

We recognized that the CO2 emission at manufacturing process is only 3% of the total.

FurutaWhen I first saw the LCA data of copying machine, the CO2 emission at manufacturing process was only 3% of the total. More than 50% was in the “use,” with the remaining being related to “materials and parts.”

Copying Machine Life-Cycle Analysis (details of CO<sub>2</sub> emissions) Use60%, Materials and procured parts35%, Manufacturing3%, Distribution1%, Disposal1%
This LCA analysis is for the Canon GP405 copying machine, which is taken as a representative example of a business machine. Distributions of environmental burden differ according to equipment type; the distribution for consumer equipment, for example, differs somewhat from that shown above.

Copying Machine Life-Cycle Analysis (details of CO2 emissions)

Furuta recognized the impact of this data.

FurutaI had always thought it to be insufficient to take only environmental initiatives at operational sites. At that time, when we discussed environmental issues, majority of people considered that these issues occurred to manufacturing processes and operational sites. Therefore, I wanted to change people’s mind as soon as possible to consider possibilities of energy-saving in the “use” by using the LCA data.

I put my confidence in the Essence of LCA

It was not easy to calculate the LCA data of each product. At that time, we disassembled products into their components, measuring the weight of each parts. This calculation process took several days. However, various arguments were raised in the group about how to interpret the figures that he had been calculated with such efforts.

FurutaTo calculate the amount of CO2 emission per unit (e.g., CO2 emission per 1 kg of steel), we collect precise data on individual process such as digging up iron ore with bulldozers or excavators like in Australia or Peru, carrying that iron ore with trucks, shipping from origin ports, unloading at destination ports, rolling at ironworks, carrying with trucks again, rolling, processing and etc. It takes many years to collect such data. Therefore, it is not certain what, and from what point in time, is indicated by the results of these calculations. If the calculation result were intended for comparison only, it would be acceptable. We can only make such comparisons within our company.

These figures cannot be used, despite the considerable hardship that went into their calculation. Severe comments such as these were made within the company, but Furuta continued to put his confidence in the essence of LCA.

FurutaHowever, I continued to believe that LCA can be used as a method to evaluate progress in future. The major advantage that all factors including product usage, materials, resource-saving, etc. can be comprehensively indicated with an LCA index led me to hold on to the idea that LCA will one day be regarded by society at large as essential.

Someday the age of LCA will come.
The age that Furuta believed in has arrived, his concept being adopted as part of the Canon Environmental Vision.

It was 2007, the year before Toyako Summit, the 34th G8 summit in 2008. Canon had begun to develop a new environmental vision, as well as the index for it. Basic ideal behind the Canon Environmental Vision was to consider based on the product lifecycle.

FurutaTopics such as carbon footprint were raised, and I realized that evaluation by LCA was the correct strategy. Furthermore, through LCA it became possible to calculate data for various business fields, and I came to regard LCA as a means for goal setting. Since LCA data are good as relative values, use of LCA data as relative values came to be accepted within the company.

Now that LCA is commonly and widely used, Furuta reviews the past as follows:

FurutaAt that time, there was insufficient knowledge of LCA and little interest in or enthusiasm for LCA in society. Under such conditions, it was very difficult to continuously encourage concerned people at business unites to take up LCA, and to use LCA data for activities around goal setting. However, I never stopped believing that LCA is essential for environmental evaluation. “Someday a time when LCA is used will come.” I told myself.

Photo of Kiyoto Furuta

Kiyoto Furuta

Senior General Manager, Global Environment Center, Canon Inc.

After joining the company, he has engaged in environmental fields, starting with environmental activities at manufacturing sites. Under the motto “Challenge to resolve environmental issues on a global scale,” he has pro-actively engaged with companies and people in different positions and with different interests, both internally and externally.

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