We manufacture a range of fluorine compounds at the Group company Mitsubishi Materials Electronic Chemicals Co., Ltd., including materials for use in semiconductor manufacturing, flame retardant and antistatic materials, and hydrofluoric acid.
Since fiscal 2007, we have been engaged in the recycling of fluorine resources in which we recover calcium fluoride waste emitted by companies using fluorine compounds and recycle it back into fluorine resources that can be used as alternative raw materials for fluorite. We will promote the recycling of fluorine resources through further technical innovation.
Waste containing rare metals is often found in the form of “urban mines,” which contain such a high percentage of rare metals that it is possible to extract them more efficiently than obtaining metals from natural resources. A prime example is tungsten, the main raw material used in cemented carbide products. Making the most of the Mitsubishi Materials Group’s comprehensive capabilities as a manufacturer, from raw materials through to finished products, we are currently focusing on recycling used cemented carbide products in an effort to secure stable supplies of raw materials
PGM* are rare metals that are found in copper concentrate. Group company Materials Eco-Refining Co., Ltd. refines PGM intermediate materials obtained from our Naoshima Smelter & Refinery, to create products such as metals and chemical compounds.
Platinum and palladium in particular are key materials in the automotive, electric and electronic sectors. With that in mind, we applied to register our brand with the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM), as a means of offering market assurance, and successfully obtained certification in September 2012. We are determined to keep on improving the quality of our products, and make every effort to ensure stable supplies of rare metals.
* Platinum Group Metals
We use smelting technology for the purpose of recycling at our smelters and refineries. We take in a wide variety of scrap, including shredder dust and used batteries from sources such as used home appliances or scrap vehicles, and E-Scrap from sources such as used substrates and connectors. We then recycle scrap, by using it for raw materials or thermal energy, and recover valuable metals.
We also take in clinker dust, as a byproduct from our cement plants, and use components such as calcium as auxiliary raw materials for smelting. After use, clinker dust turns into copper slag, which is then recycled back into raw materials at our cement plants
Using a burning process that reaches temperatures of 1,450°C, our cement plants detoxify and make effective use of industrial waste and other difficult-to-treat materials without generating any waste. As well as using substances such as construction sludge, coal ash, copper slag byproducts from copper smelters, and gypsum as raw materials, we also turn materials such as plastic, tires and wood back into cement, by using them as a source of thermal energy.
To deal with chlorine contained in waste products, which can affect plant operations and the quality of cement, we have installed and continue to upgrade high performance chlorine bypass facilities at each of our plants. To further promote the effective use of waste products meanwhile, we are committed to strengthening the capabilities of our waste processing facilities, through measures such as upgrading pre-treatment facilities for waste plastic and processing facilities for waste gypsum board.
Home appliances are made by combinations of various materials such as glass, plastic and rubber as well as metals such as steel, aluminum, and copper. Home appliances are first of all disassembled manually, then crushed and sorted at our home appliances recycling plants. We have adopted several advanced sorting process for components and materials, and are always trying to create more value from recovered materials and to improve recycling efficiency. We recover copper and other precious metals from recovered copper-based materials and printed circuit boards in our copper smelting process. Thus, we maximize the effect of synergies within our group. In fiscal 2020, we recycled 2,749 thousand units of home appliances at six plants of our five affiliated companies. Recycling of this volume could reduce landfill disposal equivalent to approximately 120 thousand tons.
We have been operating a total CAN TO CAN recycling system within the Mitsubishi Materials Group (Universal Can Corp. and Mitsubishi Aluminum Co., Ltd.), based on a cycle of can manufacturing, collecting, melting, casting and rolling, for over 40 years now. Our system is uniquely integrated within the Group and enables us to process used beverage cans (UBC) on a leading scale domestically, thereby helping to conserve aluminum resources. We also do our bit to prevent global warming by manufacturing slabs of recycled aluminum from UBC. As this only requires about 3% as much energy as manufacturing aluminum from scratch, it enables us to substantially reduce energy consumption, and it also enables us to contribute to preventing global warming.
Aluminum beverage can recycling has its long history. At the Mitsubishi Materials Group, we proactively recycle aluminum beverage cans, thereby contributing to the conservation of the global environment.
According to a survey by Japan Aluminum Can Recycling Association, the recycling rate of used aluminum beverage cans in Japan has remained high for more than 10 years, exceeding 90% (97.9% in fiscal 2020). Some used beverage cans are exported overseas even where they are reused appropriately.
A little less than 70% (66.9% in fiscal 2020) of aluminum beverage cans recycled in Japan are reused as new aluminum beverage cans (Can-to-Can recycling). This rate is outstandingly higher than that of PET-to-PET recycling, which has been the 20% range (26.3% in fiscal 2019: Data from The Council for PET Bottle Recycling).
The amount of energy consumed to recycle used aluminum beverage cans into new aluminum ingots is much lower, at only approx. 3% than that consumed to make new ingots through the process of smelting and refining aluminum ores (bauxite). Accordingly, CO2 emissions from the generation of electric power needed for recycling are quite low.
As seen above, aluminum beverage can recycling, which is already established as a stable social system, is a versatile approach to reducing waste, conserving resources and energy, preventing global warming, and presenting solutions to the recent concerns over marine plastic pollution.