Aug 30, 2023
Generating Sustainable Impacts / Feature Story
EXPO 2025: Unleashing the Power of Each and Every Individual
Panasonic’s Resource Recycling Pavilion
at Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan
The 2025 Japan International Expo (Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan) opens on April 13, 2025. Panasonic Holdings Corporation will be on hand, represented by the Panasonic Group pavilion “NOMO NO KUNI” and its message to “Unleash your mind, body, yourself, and world.” A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Yumeshima (Konohana-ku, Osaka City) on July 12, 2023, for the pavilion, a resource-recycling structure making full use of recycled materials. Architect Yuko Nagayama, who designed the pavilion, and Michiko Ogawa, Director in charge of Kansai External Relations and EXPO Promotion, Panasonic Holdings Corporation, share their thoughts about the project and details of the team’s environment-friendly initiatives.
Compatibility of Panasonic Group Purpose & Expo Theme
The theme of Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai is “Designing future society for our lives.” The Panasonic Group’s Basic Business Philosophy is to realize “an ideal society offering material and spiritual affluence,” and to make this dream a reality, the Group is promoting initiatives under the Panasonic GREEN IMPACT long-term environmental vision. Recognizing that the Expo 2025 theme was compatible with its own purpose, the Group announced its participation in October 2021.
The Group proceeded with planning the exhibition concept and content in line with the Group’s Basic Business Philosophy, and in May and July 2022, announced the exhibition concept for the NOMO NO KUNI pavilion.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What kind of contribution can the Panasonic Group make to the Expo?’ Rather than starting with a specific idea for a pavilion, we exchanged opinions within the company, and only then did we decide what it should look like,” said Ogawa.
“What kind of contribution can the Panasonic Group make to the Expo?”
“The Panasonic Group was represented by the Matsushita Pavilion at the Japan World Exposition Osaka 1970. As an elementary school student, visiting the Expo and meeting people from overseas for the first time gave me a sense of a bright future ahead. At Expo 2025, we hope to present a bright future of hopes and dreams to the children of today.”
Exhibition & Pavilion Design Share Common Keyword—“Circulation”
The NOMO NO KUNI pavilion theme “Circulation” expresses the connection that exists among all things, including all living things. By injecting concepts of sustainability and well-being into the architectural expression, Panasonic is pursuing a structure in which people can truly feel the circulation of materials and energy. Nagayama, who designed the Japan Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai, took this expression of the Panasonic Group, and embodied it in an architectural form.
“The concept of this pavilion is ‘Unleash your mind, body, yourself, and world.’ We worked together with Panasonic to develop the image of a 720° circulation, in which the cycles of human and natural activities interact and come full circle,” said Nagayama.
The unit shape resembles infinity (∞) and represents both the “infinite potential” of children and 720° circulation. Thin organdie stretched across the frame results in a light, free construction that sways in the wind—an architectural form expressing “freedom” and “diversity” that changes with the wind and weather.
“Initially, I wanted a structure that would allow the frame to sway freely but had to abandon this idea due to the constant 5-m/s winds off the sea near the exhibition site,” said Nagayama. “Wind can be a threat, but we continued to search for ways to use it to our advantage and focused on a thin organdie membrane as a way to add natural movement akin to a living creature while still emphasizing safety. We are always covered by something—be it a building or clothing, but by reimagining the covering as a membrane and allowing it to move with the wind, we could create a sense of release.”
“I want children to be excited by something they’ve never seen before!”
“I believe there is great significance in always taking on new challenges,” said Nagayama. “I hope our thoughts will be conveyed to visitors through the architectural form. I want children to be excited by something they’ve never seen before!”
Pavilion Design Concept and Exterior View
Pavilion Born of 3 Cycles
From procurement through dismantling, the Group will achieve total carbon neutrality and realize a “pavilion born of three cycles”:
- Recycling iron and copper from used appliances into major components
- Upscaling offcuts and waste wood from group factories
- Utilizing PALM LOOP® technology to repurpose agricultural waste
Recycling iron and copper from used appliances into major components
For more than 20 years, the Panasonic Group has been working with partners to recycle home appliances based on the concept of “make products, use products, reuse resources.” The Group’s home appliance recycling plants use a resource recycling scheme (“From Product to Product”) in which valuable, high-grade resources (resin, nonferrous metals, iron, etc.) are extracted from end-of-life home appliances and then used to make new products.
This resource-recycling approach to manufacturing and the Group’s proprietary recycling technology will be applied to the construction of the pavilion, using recovered materials such as iron, glass, and copper.
Steel frame construction using iron from recycled home appliances
Since 2013, the Group has been working with Tokyo Steel Corporation on a resource recycling scheme in which iron scrap from home appliance recycling plants is reused for new product manufacturing.
Recycled iron will account for approximately 82 percent of the estimated 118 tons of iron used in the pavilion (excluding ancillary steel frames, leased areas, and facades) and 97.1 tons, or 98 percent, of the main columns and beams (excluding plates for joints, etc.). After the Expo, the iron will reenter the recycling scheme as material for new products.
Paving blocks made from recycled washing machine glass
In cooperation with Taiheiyo Precast Concrete Industry Co., Ltd., the interlocking paving blocks (approximately 749 m2) used around the pavilion exterior will comprise of seven percent waste glass content, the first* in the world to be manufactured using glass recycled from approximately 4,600 drum-type washing machines and dryers. Following the Expo, the blocks will be considered for use at other sites.
*World’s first interlocking blocks manufactured using recycled glass from drum-type washer/dryers; as of July 12, 2023; based on research by Panasonic Holdings Co.
Trunk cables made of recycled copper
In cooperation with Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and Sumiden HST Cable, Ltd., approximately 1.2 tons (nearly 100 percent) of the copper used in main trunk cables will be recycled copper recovered from home appliance printed circuit boards. The wire will be collected after the Expo and reused at Group plants and other facilities.
Upscaling offcuts and waste wood from group factories
The Group has been developing know-how and systems for upcycling factory scraps. Factory offcut shapes are converted into digital diagrams and saved in a database, making it easier for them to be discovered and repurposed. A secondary use ecosystem offers design support to encourage “maximum use, minimum waste” of these materials, while tie-ups with creators and experts promote sustainable designs based on materials in the database. (See also: Ecosystem Development Project Turns Manufacturing Waste into New Products)
The know-how and systems developed through these efforts will be applied to the pavilion interior as follows:
- Light fixtures made from stainless steel plates used in ventilation fan pipe hoods
- Washbasin counters made from offcut artificial marble for system kitchens
- Light fixtures made from TV prism sheets
Utilizing PALM LOOP® technology to repurpose agricultural waste
Palm oil is a popular and versatile vegetable oil. The oil palms from which it is harvested are cut down after their usefulness has been exhausted; left to decompose or burned as waste, oil palm trunks emit greenhouse gases, placing a heavy burden on the environment. The Group’s PALM LOOP® initiative can recycle this waste wood, using proprietary technology to upcycle it into woodboard.
Upcycled waste wood from Malaysian oil palm trees will be used for furniture, an original vertical blind for the reception room created with Ms. Nagayama, and for the surface material of restroom automatic doors.
Reception room flooring is made of Sustainable Floor™, a base material produced from recycled construction waste and unused forest materials. Since the waste material is recycled and not burned, it contributes to reducing CO2 emissions.
Green Pavilion for the Next Generation
“Construction has finally begun on a pavilion that will allow people around the world to experience how they are connected to the world, and how the cycle of life and the global environment continues uninterrupted,” said Ogawa.
“At NOMO NO KUNI, we invite people, but especially children of the alpha generation, to experience how objects, the human spirit, sustainability, and well-being are all connected. By making them aware of where they fit in an interconnected world, they will be freed from unconscious assumptions and restrictions, and able to experience the power that comes from recognizing that they, too, have the capacity, the confidence, and the will to try.”
“Pavilion will allow people around the world to experience how they are connected to the world.”
“Panasonic Group will continue to work with various stakeholders to realize a Green Pavilion that embodies our desire to anticipate the technologies and ideas that we believe will be mainstream in 2025.”
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