Walkthroughs: Panasonic’s ‘Eco Ideas’ House, Recycling, & Manufacturing Plants
• Panasonic Center Tokyo is an open-to-the-public complex that contains the “Eco Ideas” House – a showcase home focusing on cutting-edge solar cell, fuel-cell and storage battery technologies aiming at reduction of CO2 emissions – a major factor contributing to global warming.
• Panasonic’s Eco Technology Center (PETEC), a recycling facility in the rice-sake-growing town of Yashiro, an hour outside the company's Osaka headquarters, is one of 24 such plants Panasonic runs. Established in 2000 and dedicated to end-of-life product resource recovery, it dismantles and processes CRT TVs, refrigerators, washers and air conditioners. Added to the mix were flat-panel TVs and dryers last year, and in 2009, the facility recycled a total of 1.5 million products of multiple brands, in line with Japan’s strict consumer electronics and appliance recycling laws. Consumers typically pay recycling fees of anywhere from the equivalent of $20 for a small LCD TV to $60 for a large refrigerator.
• Panasonic Home Appliances Company, in Kusatsu, Japan, is the location for the company’s early-stage fuel-cell manufacture as well as where its high-end consumer-use air conditioners are made. Currently, one-kilowatt fuel-cell units are produced here and supplied to homeowners through local gas companies. They can generate enough power to supply half the power needs (cooling, lighting, heating) of a typical small Japanese home. The 2,000 AC units produced daily here are equipped with ultrasonic sensors that scan a room to detect furniture positioning and the location and number of people present, automatically adjusting room temperature accordingly.