Conserving and recycling resources have been applied to our environmental conservation activities since the early 1990s. We have undertaken global regional and product category reuse and recycling initiatives for MFPs, printers, supplies, consumable parts, and other products.
In Japan, we apply a lease-centric business model for MFPs. We maintain a framework to track each unit, with our collection system tapping it to ensure effective resource usage. We leverage the accumulated expertise from this setup in countries with varying business models. There are more than 100,000 Ricoh products collected annually in Japan as used products, and most of them are currently reused and recycled as remanufactured products, recycled parts or recycled materials. Since 2010, our product design and technology divisions have helped us reuse functional components in periodically replaced units for imaging products. We will continue progressing with initiatives internally and with suppliers and other business partners to broaden the scope of reuse and recycling
We deploy takeback programs, reuse, and recycling efforts through our own facilities in Europe, Japan, Americas, Asia, and China business regions. Each Group company maintains standards for selecting trustworthy industrial waste contractors.
These standards include such internationally recognized endorsements as ISO 14001, ISO 9001, R2, and e-Stewards.
Takeback for supply and parts
To promote recycling, we have introduced a collection and recycling system for replaced parts that occur during maintenance services. This system does not dispatch vehicles for parts collection, but loads parts collected from service bases all over Japan on the return line after parts delivery operated by SBS Ricoh Logistics and transports them to the recycling base operated by Ricoh.
Since 2012, Ricoh (in Europe) has added and strengthened a new collection scheme to increase collection of used supplies. Ricoh (in Europe) purchases Ricoh's supplies collected by 3rd party companies. As of Oct 2021, we are now working with 15 collection companies in 9 Countries across Europe, and plan to expand this network further. Through this effort, we will increase the amounts of supplies collection and promote our reuse and recycling.
Takeback by MFP industry Network
Ricoh participates in the recovered equipment exchange system run by the Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association (JBMIA).
Through this initiative, equipment turned in by manufacturers of copiers, MFPs and digital printers, including Ricoh, are collected at shared collection centers and returned to manufacturers, thus promoting the reuse and recycling of products in the industry overall.
There are 35 collection sites and nine exchange centers for collected machines from Hokkaido to Okinawa, covering all of Japan.
In France, 17 office equipment manufacturers including Ricoh France jointly invested to establish CONIBI and contracted recovery operations to this joint company. CONIBI has created its own free collection system and promotes the recycling of toner cartridges and consumables.
We have done much since the 1990s to cultivate our product refurbishment and reuse and recycling businesses, necessitating a range of efforts to make them viable. We have acquired many technologies and expertise over the years to commercialize product and parts remanufacturing. Sales of that business reached around ¥30 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.
1.Manufacturing Based on Design Policy for End of Life
The most important thing for product remanufacturing is to incorporate the perspectives of reuse, recycling, and long-term use into the product design concept in advance. We established what we now call the Design Policy for End of Life in 1993. The policy encompasses design standards for common parts and materials to streamline the reuse and recycling of recovered products and parts and to reduce degradability. For more than 20 years, we have made prospective reuse and recycling central to product design.
2. Optimized Takeback, Remanufacturing and Recycling Sites
We reuse and recycle products, supplies, and parts that in our facilities in Europe, Japan, the Americas, Asia, and China regions collect from customers. The first step in remanufacturing products is to efficiently and reliably collect used products from markets. We set up 22 collection sites across Japan to streamline collections. We centralized remanufacturing at the Ricoh Eco Business Development Center in Gotemba to enhance efficiency. We have endeavored over the years to optimally locate sites and establish our current structure. One strength of our remanufacturing business is that this center engages in both remanufacturing and recycling. Necessary parts that we remove from used products that are impossible to remanufacture can become service or replacement parts for remanufactured products. We maintain a system to sell non-reusable parts as valuable recycling materials, minimizing costs by eliminating expenses and labor by shipping them to recyclers.
3. Reuse and Recycling Technologies to Optimize Quality, Cost, and Delivery
We established evaluation, diagnostics, disassembly, cleaning, washing, restoration, erasure, and recycling technologies to optimize quality, cost, and delivery in our remanufacturing business. Evaluation and diagnostics technologies are pivotal for generating earnings. Evaluation technology determines the reusability of used products based on assessments of their residual usability and other factors. It enables us to cut transportation costs by shipping only products that can be remanufactured from collection sites across Japan to the Ricoh Eco Business Development Center. Diagnostic technology assesses the conditions of prospectively reusable products. We categorize products in different conditions, putting them on reclamation lines by level to streamline production.
4. Collected Machine Management System Ensures Reliable Production and Sales Planning (Japan)
Product commercialization is an outcome of production and sales planning. Early in the product remanufacturing business, we found production planning challenging because we knew nothing of the timing and number of used products to be collected. We resolved that issue in 2005 by deploying a technique to forecast takeback volumes and establishing a recovered machine management system. We can now predict when and how many units of specific models that we will collect around Japan, enhancing production and sales planning precision.
5. Ensuring Quality and Data Security
Remanufactured products undergo the same quality assurance steps as new models and also need data security and other processes. With remanufactured products, for example, we need to fully erase hard disk drives through traceability management. The British Standards Institution, a global business standards body, has certified remanufacturing processes at Ricoh Industrie France and Ricoh UK Products since 2012.
6. Building a Global Structure
We have rolled out our Japanese domestic expertise and technologies at recycling sites overseas. In recent years, we have shared reuse and recycling technologies among recycling sites, including sales offices. We meet growing demand for used products by supplying recovered and remanufactured products from developed nations, where such volumes are high, to emerging markets in Asia and China* to balance global supply and demand.
* In 2015, Ricoh became the first Japanese manufacturer to obtain approval from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of China to import used products into that country for locally manufacturing recycled MFPs.
7. Selling Remanufactured Products
We have sold remanufactured products since 1997, tailoring our operations to regional market needs.
We offer several types of remanufactured product types to cater to customer and market requirements.
We guarantee high-quality remanufactured products to be as good as new. We market them as reconditioned machines in Japan and as the GreenLine series in Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere in Asia.
In February 2022, nine models of the GreenLine series models in the Americas became the world’s first remanufactured MFPs to achieve ENERGY STAR certification under specification version 3.1.
In 2021, we launched a scheme in Japan to reuse full-color toner bottles. As part of the scheme, used toner bottles were collected and returned to the Ricoh Eco Business Development Center in Gotemba. There, they were cleaned, filled with new toner, and re-delivered to customers. In order to maximize the potential for toner bottle reuse, we have developed technologies to support the diagnosis of life expectancy for specific parts, and for cleaning toner bottles without the need for disassembly. With these technical developments, the amount of virgin material used annually is reduced by approximately 30 tons, and the CO2 reduction impact is approximately 145 tons. The initial scheme focused on the RICOH IM C8000/C6500 and the RICOH Pro C5310S/C5300S machines, however, we will expand the scope to other relevant models whilst deploying the scheme globally.
RICOH IM C6500 Toner bottles (front door open)
From 2006, we implemented a system to audit waste contractor disposals and operations to fulfill our responsibilities as a waste producer. The annual audit encompasses waste management perspectives and everything from fire and disaster prevention to health and safety, workplace environments, recycling situations, in addition to perspectives related to waste management. We use laptop PCs in site visits, storing findings in real time on the cloud. Checks require wide-ranging expertise, so we set up a team of experienced auditors at Ricoh global headquarters. The system centrally manages audit findings and basic contractor information, which the team can access as needed. The system also manages expiration dates of contractor waste disposal permits. It emails relevant contractor officials before those dates to remind them to stay current.