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Product Eco-efficiency (Factor)


The concept of eco-efficiency was developed to realize a sustainable society by providing products and services designed to improve the quality of life while reducing environmental impact. The concept of eco-efficiency was proposed in 1992 by the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD: renamed the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 1995).

As defined by the WBCSD, "eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the Earth's estimated carrying capacity."

[Image] Eco-efficiency

To realize a world in which all people can lead affluent lifestyles in harmony with the Earth and to achieve Toshiba Group Environmental Vision 2050, the eco-efficiency of products and services must be increased. Eco-efficiency can be improved by improving the quality of life while minimizing environmental impact throughout product lifecycles. Toshiba Group developed an original method for calculating eco-efficiency in order to promote activities to create ECPs with high eco-efficiency. The Factor indicates the degree of improvement in eco-efficiency in comparison to a benchmark. Greater values of the Factor indicate that more technological progress and innovation are contributing to realizing a world in which all people can lead affluent lifestyles in harmony with the Earth.

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Toshiba Group originally developed a method for calculating eco-efficiency to introduce an indicator that enables overall assessment of products' environmental friendliness. Comprehensive activities for creating ECPs that are aimed at increasing the Factor are part of the Factor T initiative, so named after Toshiba's initial.

Factor T is expressed by multiplying a value factor, which represents a product's degree of improvement in value, with an environmental impact reduction factor, which represents the degree of environmental impact. The value factor quantifies the value of a product or service using QFD, while the environmental impact reduction factor assesses environmental impact using LIME*.

Calculation of Factor T

[Image] Calculation of Factor T

LIME: One of the leading environmental assessment methods in Japan, LIME (Life-cycle Impact assessment Method based on Endpoint modeling) was developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)

Calculation of Factor T

[Image] Factor T

The Factor T initiative was started in 2003. Under this initiative, we have carried out various activities involving parties inside and outside Toshiba Group, including the announcement of Environmental Vision 2050, formulation of Environmental Action Plans, conferences with competitors aiming at standardization, and contribution to the establishment of ISO standards. Toshiba Group will continue to pursue the Factor T initiative in order to work toward realizing a sustainable society by incorporating new knowledge.

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Development of LCA and the Concept of Eco-efficiency in Toshiba Group

Factor T

Toshiba Group continues to promote the creation of ECPs by comprehensively considering the environment and value creation.

  • We screen environmental effects from the research and development stage before commercializing products, thereby promptly analyzing the risks involved and increasing our market competitiveness.
  • By the end of FY2013, we completed the Factor assessment for all product groups. We are now measuring improvements in the eco-efficiency of all Toshiba Group's product groups.

Life cycle management

Improvement in environmental performance throughout product life cycles

  • We measure business process eco-efficiency. We also develop measures to reduce the environmental footprints of products and organizations.

[Image] Development of LCA and the Concept of Eco-efficiency in Toshiba Group

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Toshiba Corporation

This figure compares the environmental impacts of a train car equipped with an induction motor (IM) and one equipped with a permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) throughout their life cycles. To perform an integrated assessment of the impact of climate change, we quantified the effects of train cars on the health of residents living in areas along railroads. By using noise meters to measure the noise levels of motors during operation and by taking into account noise patterns based on operating conditions, we calculated the health effects of operating train cars for a total of 1.89 million km (service period: 20 years; railroad distance: 27.4 km; 16 hours during the day and 4 hours at night). The results of integrated assessment by LIME2 indicate that noise is the dominant effect and that the environmental impact of PMSM cars was 56% that of IM cars. We will continue to develop methods for measuring environmental impacts.

Takahashi et al. (2014), Journal of Life Cycle Assessment Japan, 10 (4), pp. 479-487.

[Image] Environmental impact assessment of railway rolling stock considering motor noise effect

Column 2: Life-cycle assessment and utilization of wrapping/packaging materials for electrical and electronic products

[Image] Life-cycle assessment and utilization of wrapping/packaging materials for electrical and electronic products

Toshiba Logistics Corporation/Toshiba Corporation

Toshiba Group has developed and promotes methods for measuring environmental efficiency as well as for LCA that are suitable for various business areas. To reduce the environmental impacts not only of products and services but also of wrapping/packaging materials throughout their life cycles, we are working to improve loading efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions by using Design for Logistics (DFL) as well as to sort wrapping materials based on LCA.

We gathered LCA data on various wrapping/packaging materials to help designers consider the differences in environmental impacts among wrapping materials. We developed life-cycle models for cardboard (two-sided and multiple two-sided), wooden crates, sealed plywood boxes, expanded polystyrene (EPS), expanded polyethylene (EPE), and polyethylene (PE) bags, all of which are used in large quantities by Toshiba Group as a whole. By conducting interviews with wrapping material manufacturers and using Toshiba Group's LCA database, we calculated the life-cycle CO2 emissions for various materials. The results of our calculations are presented in the Wrapping Technology Handbook for Field Engineers, which is used inside the Group to develop eco-design guidelines for wrapping design. This year, Toshiba was awarded the 11th LCA Society of Japan Awards, Honorable Award for analyzing the consumption of wrapping/packaging materials by the Group as a whole, for using LCA to visualize CO2 emissions, and for introducing measures to improve wrapping in various areas of our business.

Toshiba Group has received the award for six years running, and seven times in total. We will continue to perform LCA, which contributes to business development.

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Column 1: Assessment of a compound semiconductor photovoltaic power generation system

In the initial stage of research and development before commercializing a product, Toshiba Group flexibly determines the range of product life cycle assessment and sets assessment indicators in order to provide an overview of the product and assess the risks involved. For example, for the compound semiconductor photovoltaic power generation system, we assessed the product's environmental performance using the Energy Payback Ratio (EPR). The EPR is the ratio of the amount of energy produced to the amount of energy consumed over the entire life cycle of the product. This is a typical indicator used to represent the environmental performance of energy supply systems. Assuming that the standard power output is 4 kW and the period of use is 20 years, we estimated the amount of energy consumed over the entire life cycle of the product to be 63.7 GJ. Meanwhile, from the panel transformation efficiency and average annual solar radiation in Japan, we estimated the production energy over its life cycle to be 791 GJ. Therefore, the product's EPR is 12.4*. As product development proceeds, we assess other aspects of the product's effects on the environment, collect more accurate data, and assess the value of the system in order to make improvements.

Shuto et al. (2014), EPR of a Compound Semiconductor Photovoltaic Power Generation System, Proceedings of the Ninth Academic Conference of the Institute of Life Cycle Assessment, Japan

[Image] Assessment of a compound semiconductor photovoltaic power generation system

Column 2: Awarded the LCA Society of Japan 10th Anniversary Special Award

[Image] Awarded the LCA Society of Japan 10th Anniversary Special Award
Corporate Senior Vice President Nishida delivering an address at the awards ceremony

Toshiba Group started to use Factor-T in 2003 in order to develop and promote environmental efficiency assessment methods suited for different business areas. While focusing primarily on consumer products, the Group has developed assessment methods for the products of all Group companies, including heavy electric products, semiconductor products, and solutions. In addition, we actively release information about our assessment results through a variety of media. We have also participated in establishing standards for Factor X with eight electrical manufacturers as well as ISO standards, not to mention the activities of industrial associations. Further, Toshiba Group has responded to new international trends ahead of our competitors. By making use of outside knowledge, we have conducted case studies on aspects of environmental impact that cannot be fully evaluated with conventional LCA, such as biodiversity, noise, and water resources. We are taking an active part in developing various applications related to LCA, including supporting the Scope 3 Standards and introducing our new concept “T-Compass.” We were awarded the LCA Society of Japan 10th Anniversary Special Award for these activities in recognition of our achievements in our industry. We will continue to promote LCA and the Factor approach in the future.

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