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Sep 22, 2010

Panasonic Develops Recycling Technology to Accurately Sort Plastics from Recycling Residue

Panasonic aims to use the newly developed plastic sorting technology to encourage the use of recycled plastics and reduce environmental impact.

Osaka, Japan - Panasonic Eco Technology Center Co., Ltd, (PETEC) a part of Panasonic Corporation has developed a technology to sort and collect with high accuracy, polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastics from shredder residue generated at its home appliance recycling factory of the same name. The technology utilizes near-infrared identification, high-precision air control, and dry scrubbing technology and has the advantage of not using water in any of its processes, thereby reducing its impact on the environment in comparison to conventional sorting methods.

During the conventional recycling process, plastic components collected through manual disassembly of home appliances are recycled as molding material. However, the plastic fragments left over from this manual process are usually treated as waste or are used as fuel rather than recycled with the other plastic components collected.

Furthermore, chemical substances specified by the RoHS Directive in Europe must be within set values for plastics used in products. Specific bromines added to plastics as flame retardants must be under 1,000 ppm. Accordingly, plastics containing bromine must not be contaminated when recycling plastic.

To acknowledge these two problems when sorting plastics for reuse, PETEC developed the new plastic recycling technology that enables sorting and collection of PP, PS, and ABS plastics from shredder residues with an accuracy of over 99%, while eliminating plastics containing bromine from the selection. The technology utilizes dry scrubbing to realize a low-environmental impact, water-free processing at all the manufacturing stages. Its attributes are as follows:

  1. Existing near-infrared identification technology can identify the plastic types and also detect the presence of bromine through analysis of its reflection spectrum.
  2. High-precision air control technology with original air vent timing to accurately separate finely fragmented plastic.
  3. The equipment to sort PP/PS/ABS plastics is relatively compact and can easily be incorporated into other recycling factories
  4. Lowers environmental impacts in the recycling process by being water-free and liquid-free at all manufacturing stages.

PETEC plans to incorporate the newly developed high-precision plastic sorting equipment with its existing recycling technology and recycle 1,000 tons of plastic from shredder residue each year. Investigations are underway to see if such recycled plastic can be reused in refrigerator components.

Currently, Panasonic is reusing 5,000 tons of plastic yearly (inclusive of home appliances recycling). Our aim is to reduce impacts on the environment by utilizing this recycled plastic in more products and raising the ratios of recycled resources.

This technology will be displayed at the Panasonic 'eco ideas' Forum 2010 (October 6-9, Panasonic Center Tokyo). More information about the forum can be found at the http://panasonic.net/eco/forum2010/.

About Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 7.42 trillion yen (US$79.4 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2010. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE: PC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at http://panasonic.net.

Media Contacts:

Overseas Public Relations Office
Panasonic Corporation
Tel: 03-6403-3040 Fax: 03-3436-6766
Panasonic News Bureau
Tel: 03-3542-6205 Fax: 03-3542-9018
*The content in the following news releases is accurate at the time of publication but may be subject to change without notice. Please note therefore that these documents may not always contain the most up-to-date information.

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