Jan 22, 2024

Generating Sustainable Impacts / Feature Story

Sustainability

PGI in Action: PANABRAS Driving Green Transformation in Brazil

Brazil’s Amazon Basin is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, producing 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen and 16 percent of its freshwater. One of the world’s largest carbon sinks, the Amazon rainforest removes more greenhouse gasses (GHG) from the atmosphere than it emits. Yet, Brazil is also the world’s sixth largest GHG emitter, and the rainforest is under threat as the result of accelerating deforestation and changes in land use. To address these and other global climate challenges, Brazil’s delegation to COP28 reiterated its commitment to reducing emissions by 48 percent up to 2025 and by 53 percent up to 2030—both relative to 2005—with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Echoing the Brazilian government’s strong commitment to ending deforestation and cutting GHG emissions, subsidiary PANABRAS is leading Panasonic’s environmental initiatives under the Panasonic GREEN IMPACT (PGI) action plan in Brazil. For this latest installment of PGI in Action, Panasonic Newsroom Global interviewed Arlison M. Bomfim, Manager in charge of ESG at PANABRAS, to explore how Panasonic is collaborating with local stakeholders, consumers, and employees to activate PGI initiatives in Brazil.

PANABRAS Extrema plant on track to realize 100% clean energy shift

PANABRAS is spearheading a number of PGI initiatives in Latin America. Under Panasonic Green Impact Plan 2024 (GIP2024), Panasonic aims to establish 37 zero-CO2 factories by fiscal year 2031, and as of 2023, the number of Zero-CO2 factories had already increased to 31 sites, including eight factories in North and Latin America. Three PANABRAS factories—in San Jose dos Campos, Manaus, and Extrema—became the first in Latin America to be awarded the “Zero-CO2 Emissions” label by headquarters.

These factories have contributed to a 56 percent reduction in CO2 emitted in fiscal year 2022 as compared to fiscal year 2018—from 620 tons to 240 tons,” said Arlison. To realize 100 percent clean energy consumption at the Extrema site, PANABRAS engages in tree planting activities in Extrema City. “Since 2018, PANABRAS has planted some 12,000 trees in partnership with the Environmental Secretariat at Extrema City,” explained Arlison.

The Extrema plant, which produces energy-efficient refrigerators and washing machines, is known as the “Green Factory” for its ecologically-minded manufacturing process. The newest line of refrigerators produced at the plant consumes up to 45 percent less power than comparable models. “Our refrigerators and washing machines are recognized as energy-efficient, and our products meet the highest energy efficiency ratings in Brazil,” said Arlison.

Photo: Zero-CO2 emissions factory in Extrema City

Zero-CO2 emissions factory in Extrema City

Looking ahead, PANABRAS has concluded a long-term contract with renewable energy consultancy Pontoon Clean Tech to co-construct a new solar panel plant in Mauriti, Ceará, which will provide sustainable power to the nearby Extrema plant. Upon completion, the 1,100-hectare plant will have 935,000 solar panels. PANABRAS intends to generate at least 50 percent of the energy it consumes in Brazil from self-generated solar power from 2025 onward.

Collaboration boosts nationwide reverse logistics program

Reverse logistics and circular economy are the hot topics of discussion in Brazil,” said Arlison. Reverse logistics refers to the process by which products are returned from end users through the supply chain in order to recapture value—for example, by returning products to retailers or manufacturers for refurbishment or recycling. At COP28, Brazil announced its “Ecological Transformation Plan,” which includes the creation of a national circular economy strategy and highlights the country’s intention to transition from a linear economy model to a circular model. Arlison acknowledged that PANABRAS is paying close attention to the Brazilian government’s transition to a circular economy model because this transformation will influence people’s consumption behavior and how companies relate to their customers and markets.

Panasonic is working with the Brazilian Association for Recycling of Electronics and Home Appliances (ABREE), which promotes waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling and regulates reverse logistics for electronics, home appliances, and components in Brazil.

PANABRAS employees are also encouraged to contribute to eco-friendly disposal by bringing small appliances to their offices for disposal. When they need to dispose of large appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, they can use the ABREE Reverse Logistics Program. “Employees can use WhatsApp to message the company to schedule disposal at no cost,” said Arlison.

The ABREE program

From January 2022 to June 2023, the ABREE program succeeded in collecting approximately 2,090 products (1,727 refrigerators and 363 washing machines) weighing an estimated 120 tons from 732 cities across Brazil. “This program was nominated as one of the Top 10 environmental initiatives and received a ‘MAKE NEW AWARD’ from Panasonic headquarters,” said Arlison.

Engaging employees and Gen Z to promote sustainable lifestyles

PANABRAS actively conducts employee engagement activities to improve their understanding about environmental issues. In December 2022, PANABRAS employee volunteers held their first in-person awareness-raising activity for ESG and SDGs in three years. A total 125 employees from seven cities attended the event. The sessions included various team-building exercises and ESG and SDG quiz sessions to raise awareness about environmental and social issues among employees.

Photo: Employees at PANABRAS at the event

Employees at PANABRAS enjoyed learning about ESG and SDGs at the event

In light of changing consumer behavior, we need to invest more on educating consumers, especially youth like Gen Z, to help them to think and act more sustainably,” said Arlison. PANABRAS has enlisted the help of Rebeca Andrade, the 2022 world all-round champion and first Brazilian gymnast to win Olympic gold in her sport, to reach out to this emerging generation and engage them on PGI topics.

Photo: Rebeca Andrade (5th from left, back row) at a PGI event in April 2022

Rebeca Andrade (5th from left, back row) at a PGI event in April 2022

Arlison explained that Rebeca was chosen because she is very young, she communicates well, and uses social media platforms to engage with young people. Since her appointment, Rebeca has shared PGI messages, generating over 700 million impressions across her social media channels.

Besides external ambassadors like Rebeca, we have also appointed four internal employee ambassadors to promote PGI,” said Arlison. In April 2023, the four PANABRAS employees were joined by Rebeca and 12 digital influencers at a Green Roundtable event hosted by PANABRAS. Participants discussed concrete actions for realizing a more sustainable world and the importance of leading sustainable lifestyles. The event was live-streamed through TikTok and attracted a large interactive audience across the country.

Educating the next generation begins at home

When asked about his own efforts to promote sustainability in his daily life, Arlison smiled. “My main mission is to educate my seven-year-old daughter about sustainability. So, in daily life and small routines at home, I teach her how to reduce waste, reuse, reduce, and recycle.” He also makes an effort to reduce his own carbon footprint by riding his bicycle and using home compost bins. “I changed my personal lifestyle because I know the importance of climate change action on personal level,” said Arlison.

Under Panasonic GREEN IMPACT, the Group aims to achieve both a better life and a sustainable global environment by generating impacts from actions that reduce its own CO2 emissions, contributing to CO2 avoided emissions within society, and realizing a circular economy. PGI initiatives have been embraced by all of the Group’s operating companies and are now “in action” across the globe.

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