Panasonic aims for higher greens

Japanese electronics giant reinforces commitment to make environment core to its business, with new targets and strategies bolstered by its acquisition of Sanyo.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Panasonic pledged Friday the environment will continue to be core to its business growth and profitability and demonstrated that commitment by announcing new targets in eco product sales and carbon emission levels as well as around "comprehensive" energy management offerings.

For instance, the Japanese electronics giant aims to reduce 600,000 tons of CO2 emissions from its factories' production activities by March 2013, a 20 percent increase from original 500,000-ton target set last year.

Yorihisa Shiokawa, managing director of Panasonic Asia-Pacific, announced the revision at the Panasonic "eco ideas" Declaration 2011 event held here. Since 2009, the annual event is a platform for the company to discuss the results and progress made since the preceding declaration, and share new business targets for the region.

This year's targets also reflect the goals of a new Panasonic group, after the company acquired Sanyo in December 2009. The acquisition was mooted back in November 2008, but was delayed first by Sanyo investors and then regulatory concerns.

According to Shiokawa, Panasonic had already met its initial target of 500,000-ton reduction in carbon emissions by March 2011, as a result of productivity enhancements. The revised higher target of 600,000 tons of CO2 emission reduction is equivalent to planting 33 million trees, he said.

Panasonic, he added, is "on track" in its goal of having eco products contribute 80 percent of revenue in the Asia-Pacific region by March 2013. The products, which include energy-efficient refrigerators and air-conditioners, made up 66 percent of sales in March 2011, up from 49 percent a year ago.

Besides aiming for maximum reduction in environment impact caused by its business activities, Panasonic wants to make the"green lifestyle a reality", Shiokawa said during his presentation.

He noted that the company will continue to spread environment and sustainability awareness with various eco-related programs such as exhibitions as well as through increased social media use. The company has an active Facebook page--with nearly 95,600 fans--and its outreach program includes online competitions and campaigns to encourage the submission of videos and photos sharing message of protecting the environment, Shiokawa pointed out.

Three more 'eco idea' factories in India, Vietnam and the Philippines are slated to be built by 2013, adding to current ones in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and most recently Indonesia.

These model eco factories have elements such as water and energy savings systems, waste recycling and chemical management built to meet Panasonic's targets of green factory assessments, and act as "ambassadors to communicate our eco ideas and strategies to community", said Low Beng Huat, general manager of Panasonic Asia-Pacific's regional planning and affairs group.

Shiokawa said that with Sanyo as part of the new Panasonic group's capabilities, the company is also targeting to develop new "comprehensive" energy and environment offerings for homes and commercial buildings in Asia. It has set a revenue target of US$2 billion by 2018 from this business segment.

Elaborating on the plan, Low told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the event that consumers and businesses can look forward to a "total energy management solution", covering energy saving, creation and storage.

For example, in addition to using an energy-efficient refrigerator, the energy to power the appliance is generated by solar panels, and excess energy created during the day can be stored in lithium-ion batteries to continuously power the equipment at night, he explained.

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