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Promoting Environmentally Conscious Design

Introducing Methodologies for Environmentally Conscious Designs that Consider Product Lifecycles

We have established a target to improve the CO2 emission rate throughout the lifecycle as part of the Canon Group Mid-Term Environmental Goals. These mid-term goals are also further broken down by product group operations and product.
To achieve these goals, Canon has built the LCA Development Management System, which can manage the entire process in an integrated fashion, from product development to information disclosures. Using this system, we are pursuing environmentally conscious designs that take into account the entire lifecycle, including energy-efficient products that consume less energy during use and resource-efficient products that are lighter weight and more compact or feature easy-to-recycle designs.

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Canon's Efforts to Develop Products with Lifecycle Assessments Earn the LCA Japan Forum Incentive Prize

Canon's efforts to develop products that produce less CO2 using lifecycle assessments (LCA) earned it the LCA Japan Forum Incentive Prize at the 10th LCA Japan Forum Awards in 2013. This award was established to support companies, organizations and researchers working to reduce environmental impacts during the product lifecycle.
Canon has leveraged its more than 20 years of experience with LCA to create the LCA Development Management System for managing the entire process, from target setting to development and information disclosure, which it uses to develop environmentally conscious products. Canon is also making it easier for customers to choose its products by visualizing overall environmental impacts as the Carbon Footprint of Products. Canon’s efforts in this regard garnered high praise from the award selection committee.


Promotion of Smaller, Lighter Products

Canon aims to make its products among the smallest and lightest in each product category. To improve functionality and usability while requiring fewer resources, our focus on reducing size and weight begins from the development stage. Canon is extending this approach not only to cameras, but also to business machines, LCD exposure systems, and medical equipment, overcoming issues related to design and expansion of functions.
In the development of a laser printer in 2013, we reduced energy consumption while also reducing the amount of materials used by employing thinner metals and plastics. As a result, we were able to cut the CO2 emissions of that model by about 40% compared to previous model. In addition, for the development of a professional-use label printer, we worked at reducing the size and weight of the unit through mechanical and electrical designs and achieved a weight reduction of more than 60%.

Recycling-Conscious Designs

Canon takes into account all stages from development and planning to collection and recycling. We consider achievement of the 65% reuse and recycling and 75% recovery rates*1 set by the EU WEEE Directive*2 to be indispensable when developing products.
Additionally, in order to comply with the directive's requirements on facilitation of dismantling*3, we also pursue easy-disassembly designs.
In response to the ongoing developments in environmental law and eco-label requirements, we are expanding training related to recycle design. It is vitally important that not only environmental control staff but also employees in all departments, including those in product design, understand the importance of environmental compliance. In 2013, we began offering a course on product and environmental assurance for developers and designers as part of our in-house web-based training programs.

  • *1Reuse and recycling and recovery rates apply to products falling under WEEE Directive Category 3 (IT and Telecommunications Equipment) and Category 4 (Consumer Equipment).
  • *2Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive
    This EU directive requires manufacturers to recover or recycle devices after use to prevent environmental pollution caused by waste electrical and electronic equipment.
  • *3Facilitation of dismantling
    Ease of breaking down main products into their constituent parts as designated by the WEEE Directive for the disassembly process.

Developing Low Environmental Impact Materials

In addition to environmentally conscious product design aimed at lower CO2 emissions and resource consumption, Canon also promotes the development of low environmental impact materials for use in products.

Development and Expanded Use of Bio-Based Plastics in Products

In our drive to adopt low environmental impact materials, Canon Inc. is focusing on bio-based plastics, which are a type of plastic with a plant-derived component. In 2008, we succeeded in producing a bio-based plastic, jointly developed with Toray Industries, Inc., with the world's highest level of flame resistance. This new material gained the BiomassPla Mark* in 2009.
Through new jointly developed material design and molding technologies, Canon Inc. and Toray Industries Inc. have produced bio-based plastic with greatly enhanced material properties. We are now the first in the world to utilize bio-based plastic for multifunction device exterior parts, which require a high degree of flame resistance.
We believe this will help us not only reduce CO2 emissions from production but, by deploying bio-based plastics for operational switches and other components that users make direct physical contact with, will also provide an invaluable opportunity to raise environmental awareness among users.
In addition to multifunction device exteriors, we are reviewing the use of bio-based plastics to include a variety of parts. In 2010, we produced the industry's largest bio-based plastic part, which we used in a commercial printing press.
We will continue to expand the scope and application of these bio-based plastics in the future.

  • *The BiomassPla Mark confirms that a product meets standards set by the Japan BioPlastics Association.

Parts that incorporate bio-based plastics
Parts that incorporate bio-based plastics

Bio-Based Plastic Material Cycle

Bio-Based Plastic Material Cycle


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