Sep 29, 2023
Generating Sustainable Impacts / Feature Story
IFA 2023 Press Event: Panasonic Accelerates Support for Carbon Neutrality, Circular Economy in Europe
- Balancing Individual Well-Being with Global Sustainability
- Fostering Carbon-Neutral Society with Sustainable, Resilient Energy Solutions
- Lowering Carbon Footprint with Innovative Heat Pump Technology
- Creating Durable Products & Services for Circular Economy
- Step-by-Step Approach to Sustainability Goals Under PGI
Balancing Individual Well-Being with Global Sustainability
Panasonic Corporation participated in the International Consumer Electronics Exhibition (IFA 2023), which took place September 1–5 in Berlin. IFA is one of the world’s largest consumer electronics trade shows, attracting visitors from around the globe; this year, 182,000 people from 138 countries visited the event.
Aligning with the Panasonic brand concept “Create Today. Enrich Tomorrow” and the desire to promote “Holistic Wellbeing” for people, society and the planet, Panasonic’s exhibition booth for invited customers at Messe Berlin highlighted four themes: Spatial Wellbeing, Outer Wellbeing, Inner Wellbeing, and Social Wellbeing. The booth design, made of easily recyclable materials, emphasized well-being for the environment, too.
In advance of IFA 2023, Panasonic briefed 128 consumer electronics editors on August 29 via an online presentation titled “Holistic Wellbeing Virtual Keynote.” The keynote kicked off with an introduction by Masahiro Shinada, CEO, Panasonic Corporation: “Our goal is to balance individual well-being with global sustainability, and we’ve been working hard to bring this vision to life and be your best partner to embrace these values.”
The virtual event introduced industry-leading solutions that align with Panasonic’s vision of Holistic Wellbeing and that promote a sustainable future under carbon neutrality and a circular economy, highlighting the company’s commitment to accelerating support for these critical themes in the European region. Let’s take a closer look at the carbon neutrality and circular economy initiatives that Panasonic introduced during the Holistic Wellbeing Virtual Keynote.
Fostering a Carbon-Neutral Society with Sustainable and Resilient Energy Solutions
The first carbon neutrality initiative to be introduced was Panasonic’s H2 KIBOU FIELD RE100 demonstration facility in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture. RE100 is a revolutionary approach to integrating hydrogen cells, solar panels, and batteries to create a seamless renewable energy system.
Shinada explained that the demonstration facility began operating in April 2022, and since then has been powering Panasonic’s fuel cell factory without interruption, regardless of weather conditions or fluctuations in power demand—a success that has attracted attention from around the globe.
“We’ve hosted some important guests over the past year, such as the Federal President of Germany, the British Consul General, and various governmental and business delegations,” explained Shinada. “These visits reflect the growing global interest in our efforts to achieve a sustainable future.”
Kousuke Kameda, Senior Manager of EU Hydrogen Business Promotion Office, Electric Works Company, said: “By combining pure hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels, and storage batteries, we have created a self-sustaining energy system. Managed by our unique Energy Management System, it produces just as much energy as we consume, adjusting power output in line with fluctuations in demand.
“This integration of pure hydrogen fuel cells addresses the limitations faced by solar panels during unfavorable weather conditions, ensuring stable power supply, while our Energy Management System, refined through our first mover advantage and operational data, extends equipment lifespan and reduces running costs, giving us a competitive edge.”
“In line with our commitment to a sustainable future and an emerging hydrogen society, we plan to expand the RE100 solution to buildings, commercial facilities, smart towns, and other aspects of everyday life,” said Kameda. “Our goal is to foster a global carbon-neutral society and provide sustainable, resilient, and efficient energy solutions.”
Lowering Carbon Footprint with Innovative Heat Pump Technology
Enrique Vilamitjana, Managing Director, Panasonic Heating and Cooling Solutions Europe, was the next speaker during the virtual keynote, explaining how an innovative Panasonic technology is supporting decarbonization in Europe.
“In Europe, everyone is extremely environmentally conscious, looking for solutions to make their homes greener, so in 2010, we launched our AQUAREA Heat Pumps in the region. Since then, we’ve seen exceptional growth for heat pumps as a sustainable source of heating and hot water supply,” explained Vilamitjana.
“We moved our heat pump production from Asia to Pilsen in the Czech Republic to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and bring us closer to our European customers to better meet their requirements. We’ve also made our heat pumps more sustainable. Earlier this year we launched a completely new generation of heat pumps using the natural refrigerant R290, which is produced in Europe.”
Panasonic has lowered its carbon footprint even further through the use of IoT technology for predictive maintenance; installers are able to schedule appointments more efficiently, not only saving time but also minimizing the distance they need to travel, reducing CO2 and other emissions.
“In such a positive environment, demand for AQUAREA has grown significantly faster than the market,” said Vilamitjana. “While the European market doubled in size between 2019 and 2022 to three million units sold, we grew over four times in the same period—and expect this demand to grow 10 times by 2030.”
Panasonic will be investing over 300 million euros in Europe up to 2025 to boost production, develop technology and meet this growing demand. As a key medium-term initiative, the company announced the acquisition of Systemair for 100 million euros to strengthen the water-circulation air-conditioning business; synergies with Systemair’s chiller technology will create a commercial heat pump business for multi-dwelling and non-residential buildings, accelerating business growth.
“All of these investment initiatives will enable us to grow our business by more than 30% per year as we move into 2024,” said Vilamitjana.
Creating Durable Products and Services for a Circular Economy
The world is gradually embracing the concept of Circular Economy (CE)1 as an alternative to linear mass-production, consumption, and disposal. Michikazu Matsushita, President, Living Appliances and Solutions Company, addressed the virtual keynote audience to introduce Panasonic Eco Technology Center (PETEC) and explain how Panasonic is dedicated to creating enduring products and services that align with this sustainable model.
PETEC is one of four recycling facilities in Japan, where end-of-life products are processed to extract and reclaim valuable materials that can be utilized in the manufacturing of new products. All four Panasonic recycling facilities collaborate with Panasonic business divisions to enhance the recyclability of product designs and conduct research and development to improve the efficient recovery and supply of resources in larger volumes. For example, the PETEC facility can recycle as much as 95% of the materials from an air conditioner. To date, Panasonic has recycled more than 560,000 tons of steel, copper, aluminum, and resin—the equivalent of 400,000 cars and 250 jumbo jets.
In step with this recycling and reuse initiative, Panasonic is also reimagining its design philosophy to prioritize extended product lifecycles, promoting the use of modular designs for easier repair, incorporating IoT for predictive failure detection, and offering frequent functionality updates.
Last year, Panasonic introduced the Multishape personal care system in Europe. This system features a modular design with five interchangeable heads, eliminating the need for separate motors, batteries, and adapters—a design innovation that saves approximately 60% of resources compared to traditional products. Multishape has been recognized for its versatility and reduced environmental impact, and this year earned the prestigious iF DESIGN AWARD Gold.
“Our approach to circular economy revolves around cultivating long-term relationships with our customers,” said Matsushita. “Panasonic is dedicated to creating enduring products and services that align with this sustainable model. By offering quality, durable products, we seek to go beyond transactional interactions and form partnerships that enhance our customers’ lives while preserving the global environment.
“Our commitment to the Circular Economy strengthens our business through services like refurbishment and subscription models, creating lasting connections with our customers. With these initiatives, we remain steadfast in advancing our vision of a circular economy.”
Step-by-Step Approach to Sustainability Goals Under PGI
Under its Panasonic GREEN IMPACT initiative, Panasonic positions sustainability at the heart of its business, taking practical steps to reduce its own CO2 emissions while contributing to reducing CO2 emissions across society—from factories to homes.
Panasonic companies are currently responsible for around 110 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year across the Group’s entire value chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3); by 2050, the goal is to reduce and avoid more than 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions—about one percent of current total global CO2 emissions.
By 2030, Scope 1 and 2 emissions will be reduced to zero—this includes not only the Group’s estimated 250 production sites and factories, but also all office locations and the energy used for these sites. By 2050, the Group will have decarbonized its entire value chain (including Scope 3 emissions) and the lifecycles of its products. At the same time, Panasonic will utilize existing businesses and technologies and develop innovative new technologies to contribute to avoided emissions across society.
1 Circular Economy (CE) is an economic system aiming at the most efficient use of material resources along their lifecycle by focusing primarily on product durability and longevity, extended reparability, upgrades through hardware and software, shared use, reuse, refurbishment, and remanufacturing. A circular economy is different from a “linear economy,” in which the product is typically sold once and not returned to the producer for product lifecycle extension or recycling/reuse of its component materials.
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