Photo of Norihiro Mochizuki (left) and Yasuhiro Naito (right)

It was the start of a trend toward LCA. First, investigation and research were initiated on the basis of toner cartridge collection and recycling. Mochizuki was a member of the founding team at that time, who developed LCA for product evaluation in the late 1990s. Since 2001, he has expanded the scope of LCA to all business units.

MochizukiIn principle, “emission per unit”*1 is calculated on material-basis. Therefore, parts (of motors, etc.) are disassembled to calculate the weight of each material. We proceeded with calculation of emission per unit through the data collection of energy consumption during processes and the volume of material waste in molding and pressing processes, with the cooperation of our suppliers.

*Emission per unit:
Amount of consumed materials and time for production of a certain quantity of a product.
In this article, it means the amount of CO2 emission for production of a certain quantity of a product.
Photo of Assembled units and disassembled and divided into each materials. Photo of Assembled units and disassembled and divided into each materials.

Assembled units are disassembled into materials and are weighted at each piece. The CO2 emission volume of each peace is calculated, because the emission per unit is different from each material.

It was extraordinarily complicated work to collect information on materials used for products and energies used for business activities, one by one, to determine emission per unit, which was required for CO2 calculation. It was also a challenge for us to systematize the huge amount of collected data.

MochizukiTo conduct LCA evaluation, it is necessary for us to collect various information from many fields, including information on product materials, components, packing materials, energy consumption during use, energy consumption per unit at production site, product transportation, disposal/recycling, etc. Through collection of these data, we released the LCA-based, Type III environment label (for copying machines, multifunction printers and ink jet printers), an achievement we made in 1999, becoming the first in the industry. After that, for the purpose of development to the whole Group company, we built an “LCA evaluation system” by formally systematizing the earlier data collection and calculation processes.

“Is it really bad for the environment to sell highly functional products?”

Using the LCA evaluation system that had been thus established, we began evaluation of improvements in each business unit. Naito, a person in charge of this task, took on the new challenge.

NaitoAlthough a system of using LCA to evaluate products in each business unit had been prepared, business divisions pointed out that their efforts for improvements were not reflected in evaluation, even though they were releasing products with a low environmental impact.

Analyzing this problem, it is seen to generally have two causes: “influence of product mix” and “functional sophistication of products.” We took on the challenge of considering how we evaluate these points.

NaitoFor example, when digital compact cameras and interchangeable lens digital cameras are evaluated as one category of “camera,” the resulting numerical data shows that the trend toward small and light-weight designs of “camera” as a broad category has not advanced, in cases where the ratio of interchangeable lens cameras to all camera products is not high, even if sales of new interchangeable lens cameras are increasing. We optimized product group categorization so as to eliminate the influence of such product mix. Consequently, the evaluation result came to be accepted by business divisions.
To give another example, even if power consumption of printers becomes 1.5 times higher, power consumption per page is reduced, if the number of printed copies is doubled. Improvements look like deterioration if they are evaluated by absolute quantity alone. However, based on the concept of “functions and values provided for customers,” we achieved an evaluation system that can better reflect business divisions’ efforts for improvement.

“We wish to correctly evaluate improvements of both products and company-wide business efforts.”
Evaluation methods should be refined continuously to correspond to enlargement and renovation of business operations. Naito will continue to take on more challenges.

Photo of Norihiro Mochizuki

Norihiro Mochizuki

Principal Specialist, Environment Planning Division, Global Environment Center, Canon Inc.

Since 2000, he engaged in environmental affairs and struggled for environmental management, mainly using LCA, and environmental communication activities. He is leading the industry in the LCA field as a member of domestic committee for international standardization in Japan, and also contributed to the establishment of quantitative environment label calculation rules for Sustainable Management Promotion Organization (SuMPO).

Photo of Yasuhiro Naito

Yasuhiro Naito

Lead Specialist, Production Environment Promotion Department, Environment Promotion Division, Global Environment Center, Canon Inc.

After joining the company, he engaged in research and development of functional and environmental materials related to Canon products. Currently he is engaged in calculation of environmental impacts using LCA, and in development of a calculation method for all of Canon’s business activities. He is eager to conduct business operations from a bird’s eye view by sharing information with related business units, and by understanding trends in society at large.

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