A couple of months back we wrote an article about Dell computers, and how they were pledged to increase their recycling targets and use more recycled plastic in their products. It’s now Sony’s turn to come under the spotlight, after their recent CSR updates proved to be very enthusiastic to the idea of maximizing recycling.
Since 2011, Sony has been using their own personally developed recycled plastic ‘SORPLAS™’. The journey towards being able to use this product has been described as ‘a relentless quest by Sony to reduce consumption of oil, the main component of the plastic that is so vital in manufacturing’.
About 40km from Tokyo, a research and development team employed by Sony set to work on producing new materials to be used within Sony products. The plastic they created is 99% recycled content and 1% flame-retardant (non-halogen, non-phosphorous) and colouring. Other flame-retardant plastics are on average only around 30% recycled content.
Sony’s plastics compounding technology makes it possible to design products to unique specifications. The SORPLAS, which amazingly stands for Sustainable Oriented Recycled Plastic, has CO2 emissions that are a remarkable 80% lower than competitor plastics. The SORPLAS can even be coloured and glossed in many ways, and after 5 recycles will maintain close to it’s original strength, though the same can’t be said for virgin plastics.
The efforts to increase recycled plastic content in their products is part of a wider sustainability initiative called ‘Road to Zero’. The ultimate goal is zero environmental impact. Many products already have the ability to use recycled plastic, like TV frames and DVD disks, but the idea is to find many more uses. Most commonly, SORPLAS is used as a direct replacement for Polycarbonate (PC), but Sony’s R&D team believe that it has much more potential.
In 2013, Sony’s products used 2.3% recycled plastic in the place of virgin plastic. Whilst on face value, this may not seem very high, you must appreciate that the project is in it’s infancy, and there is a dedicated team working hard to raise this figure.
Sony have also pledged to reduce the amount of Virgin polymers using in production and increase their reliance of recycled plastic. When you consider that the 2.3% mentioned earlier equates of 13,000 tonnes of recycled plastic, you can be assured that they aren’t shirking on their responsibilities. Of that 13,000 tonnes, 40% comes from scrap, and 60% from post-consumer products and packaging, where they have sourced their own products back once faulty or beyond use.
Sony’s targets are to reduce the use of virgin plastic by 5%, while increasing the use of recycled plastic by 5%. Of course, that leads to less net products being made, so we aren’t certain on the maths, but we will see what happens. TVs, PCs and cameras are currently their main products using recycled plastics, so we can see what the expansion will involve.