Aiming at the achievement of energy conservation targets for fiscal 2020, 2030 and 2050, we have set individual weight targets for not only newly developed models but also for improved versions of existing models. This has allowed us to successfully make smaller and lighter products in the image production business.
The development of smaller and lighter products contributes to the efficient use of resources and the reduction of environmental impacts.
Color laser multifunction printer released in January 2019「The RICOH IM C6000/C5500/C4500/C3500/C3000/C2500」 achieved a 65% or more reduction in weight compared with previous models. After performing thorough simulations for strength and impact, new lightweight frames with thinner resin and sheet metals were developed by enforcing surface and corners to prevent deformation.
Reuse and recycling-minded product design is indispensable to realize a recycling-oriented society.
Started in 1993, the Design for Environment Workshop (initially launched under a different name) established the Policy on Recyclable Design based on the Comet Circle and with the idea of “reduce, reuse and recycling” in mind. Under this policy, we have developed various kinds of know-how, including grade labeling on plastic molded parts, strength design to allow reuse, reuse of high-value-added parts, recycling of high-quality materials, easier dismantling and sorting, and strength design to reduce the use of packaging materials.
The policy has been revised as needed to meet social trends, market conditions and internal activities at the Group. Since 2015, the policy has been used under a new name, the Policy on Environment-friendly Design.
Under the product design system, designers are obliged to perform environment-friendly design self-assessments at each stage of their work in order to make further improvements. Thus, for copier and printer designers, consideration for reduce/reuse/recycling has become one of the regular steps in the design process.
We have developed compatible labels that maintain the purity and quality of recycled plastics even after the used parts are dissolved and reused with the labels left on them. The labels have been used for multifunctional copiers, printers and facsimiles since 1994. Eliminating the need to remove the labels has cut 14 minutes from the copier recycling process (for general models), as well as the need to discard the used labels, thereby improving manufacturing efficiency and reducing waste treatment costs.
With these measures, we were able to launch products made with parts containing more than 20% recycled plastic starting in 1999. Since then, the measures have been greatly contributing to the increased use of recycled plastic by Ricoh.
For the exterior covers of products screws and claws are often hidden to ensure appearance quality and reduce fastening parts. While meeting the original purposes, this may make dismantling difficult or lead to parts being damaged, which has an adverse impact on reuse and recycling. In considering the problem, the Design for Environment Workshop held discussions with relevant divisions and decided to include a clause in the policy on indicating the position of hidden screws and claws used on exterior covers in order to improve the efficiency of dismantling work.
Material recycling is an activity positioned in the outer loop of product and part reuse in the Comet Circle. Since the 1990s, the Ricoh Group has been promoting high-quality and continuous material recycling through recyclable design. In response to the risks of mineral resource depletion and environmental destruction caused by resource mining, we are further expanding the scope of material recycling as a concrete measure to achieve resource conservation targets for fiscal 2020, 2030 and 2050.
In collaboration with Tokyo Steel Co., Ltd., the Ricoh Group developed electric furnace steel sheets with the same quality and properties as blast furnace steel sheets, which have been used since 2012. These sheets are now used for production printers such as the Pro series and MP series, multifunctional copiers and other high-speed products, which are marketed all over the world. At the same time, we are using electric furnace steel sheets for an increasing variety of parts to further reduce the use of new resources.
We aim to expand the recycling of resin, another major material, using our own ingenuity and know-how. Ricoh has long been labeling the resin grade of each part at the time of manufacturing so that the resin can be recycled into separate grades after products are recovered and thus the quality of recycled materials can be maintained. As a result, we have made “horizontal recycling” possible, where recovered exterior and interior materials are recycled into new exterior and interior materials requiring the same high quality and characteristics (flame retardancy, durability, strength, etc.). In 2016, we developed recycled interior materials that can be used repeatedly using commercially available recovered materials as raw materials. They have been used for multifunctional copiers together with recycled materials for exterior parts, which were developed in a similar manner.
In advance of the strengthening of international environmental regulations, the Ricoh Group will continue to actively use recycled resources in accordance with resource conservation targets and will work on recycling with a lower environmental impact and higher economic effects.