Disasters caused by climate change. Depleted coal and mineral resources. These are just two of the many reasons behind today's increasingly urgent sense of alarm about the global environment. As a society, we need to leave behind outdated paradigms like mass-production and mass-consumption. We need to find a way to become a sustainable society that takes care to minimize its impact on the environment.
The way Ricoh sees it, to make real headway in solving environmental problems, we need to adopt a long-term perspective, and take methodical action. That's why we set out our own long-term vision. We believe that, by 2050, the advanced nations need to reduce their environmental impact to one-eighth of current levels.
To that end, Ricoh has become the world's first company to set long-term, quantifiable goals in three key areas, forging ahead with a range of initiatives on that basis. The first key area is conserving energy and preventing global warming by, among other things, reducing CO2 emissions. The second is resource conservation and recycling, and the third is pollution prevention.
One of these initiatives concerns our digital MFPs. We're steadily reducing their environmental impact, over the entire life-cycle of the product. It starts with the product planning stage, and continues through procurement of raw materials and components, followed by design and development, then manufacturing and logistics. It even continues through the product's utilization by the customer, and its eventual disposal, collection and recycling. Naturally, all Ricoh Group employees are involved in this initiative. So are our suppliers and other business partners. So are the customers who use our products. In fact, we're joining forces with people all over the world. We're all in this together.
Resources are limited and need to be conserved, so it makes sense to recycle. If recycling uses lots of energy, however, it defeats its own purpose. That's why Ricoh thinks ahead, ensuring that recycling can be done efficiently by building it into the manufacturing process, right from the product planning and design stage. We make our products strong enough to withstand multiple cycles of use. We design them in such a way that they can be easily dismantled and sorted into separate materials. We plan things so the same parts can be used in different models. This is how we manage to recycle our products efficiently, and save energy at the same time.
Ricoh also focuses on developing recycling technologies designed to minimize environmental impact. One of these is “dry washing”, whereby parts are cleaned by blasting them at high pressure with thin sheets of resin film. Because the parts need no drying afterwards, and because there is no wastewater to be processed, this technology delivers big energy-savings.
In these and other ways, Ricoh has now been proactive in recycling for many years. We launched our first recycled MFP back in 1997. Since then, we've expanded our recycling to the point where, in Japan, over 80% of our MFP parts are re-used. We've also extended our line-up of recycled MFPs offering new-product quality: the range now includes a wide variety of black-and-white and full-color models. Meanwhile, through ongoing efforts in R&D, we continue to develop technologies enabling used parts to serve again in several new generations of products.
At Ricoh, we want to be part of a society that recycles its resources, minimizing energy consumption and environmental impact. We started by changing the way we work at our own offices. Thanks to optimal deployment of MFPs, paperless working practices, utilizing energy-saving functions, and other measures, we're now reducing our environmental impact and our costs, while improving our productivity.
We're also helping others to do the same. Naturally, we're proactive in passing on hints and tips about eco-friendly working practices to our customers, and providing eco-friendly products. We even help our customers use our products to make their workflow more efficient.
But we want to expand eco-awareness even farther and wider. Every year, on World Environment Day − launched in 1972 by the United Nations − we hold an event we call “Ricoh Global Eco Action”. On June 5, to raise awareness of environmental issues, we switch off all our illuminated signage, and take other practical eco-friendly measures, such as bicycling to work and using the stairs instead of the elevator. Striking a chord with the general public, our initiative has rippled outwards into large-scale eco-action around the world.
In New York's Times Square, the 100% solar-powered Ricoh Eco Billboard is a message in and of itself. Signaling Ricoh's commitment to globalizing eco-awareness, this eco-friendly billboard glows brightly today and every day.