International frameworks are being established to minimize the negative impact of chemical substances on people's health and the environment. The Kubota Group engages in ongoing activities aimed at appropriately controlling and reducing the use of chemical substances.
In RY2016, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions were 707 tons, a decrease of 8.6% compared to the previous reporting year. Additionally, the VOC emissions per unit of sales improved by 5.5% compared to the previous reporting year. The decrease in VOC emissions is mainly due to the reduction of production volume at cast iron production sites in Japan. We are promoting the ongoing measures, such as elimination or reduced use of VOC-contained paint, thinner, etc., and switching to VOC-free materials.
*1 VOCs comprise the six VOCs that are most prevalent in emissions from the Kubota Group: xylene, toluene, ethylbenzene, styrene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene.
*2 VOC emissions per unit of consolidated net sales.
At Kubota Engine (Wuxi) Co., Ltd., we worked on the reduction of the amount of chemical substances handled in production processes. As the pre-paint treatment to improve corrosion resistance and adhesiveness of paint, iron phosphate was used. Since waste water containing iron phosphate is strictly regulated and is difficult to be discharged after treatment, we condensed it and then entrusted its disposal to contractors as industrial waste. This process was associated with generation of sludge. Thus, in November 2015, we changed the pre-treatment solution to zirconium oxide. This eliminated hazardous iron phosphate in waste water, reducing approx. 70% per product unit of the waste water for entrusted disposal, as well as the amount of sludge generated.
At about the same time, in December 2015, we introduced a thinner collection and recycling system to the paint adjustment room, for the purpose of reducing the use of VOC-containing thinner for cleaning. By collecting and recycling thinner, we were able to reduce approx. 60% of the use of thinner per product unit, with approx. 90% reduction of the amount of thinner thrown away after use.
We will make comprehensive efforts to further reduce the use of chemical substances in various aspects.
In October 2016 Kubota Baumaschinen GmbH introduced the VOC (volatile organic compound) removal equipment that employs zeolite as the absorber for emissions treatment of the painting line.
At our plant, we use VOC-containing paint and thinner in painting processes, and has been working to reduce VOC emissions by employing VOC-free paint and thinner.
However, in view of our expanding product lineups and increasing production volume, as well as the trends in domestic laws and regulations, and based on the prediction that the environmental burden posed by the VOC emissions is likely to become too large to ignore, we decided to introduce the latest-model VOC removal equipment.
The VOC removal equipment we have introduced employs the condensation and combustion system, which combines absorption of VOC gases by zeolite and heat regenerative combustion using ceramics, and can conduct efficient treatment of emission gases in the painting line. In introducing the equipment, we adjusted it to be able to control the treatment volume of emission gas according to the operation status of multiple painting lines, as well as the amount of use of electricity and gas fuels, so as to save energy consumption. We also attached a concentration meter at the final exhaust outlet, so as to be able to monitor the VOC concentration after treatment.
The introduction of this equipment enabled us to remove 90% of VOCs.
We will make continuous efforts to identify any change at the plant and implement appropriate measures to reduce environmental load.
In RY2016, a total of 636 tons of substances stipulated in the PRTR Law* were released and transferred, a decrease of 17.5% compared to the previous reporting year. Additionally, the release and transfer per unit of sales improved by 14.7% compared to the previous reporting year. The decrease in PRTR release and transfer is mainly due to the reduction of production volume at cast iron production sites in Japan. Similar to reduction of VOC emissions, We are promoting the ongoing measures to reduce the PRTR-designated substances.
* Act on Confirmation, etc. of Release Amounts of Specific Chemical Substances in the Environment and Promotion of Improvements to the Management Thereof.
*1 Total amount of declarable substances that are handled at each site (annual volume of 1 ton or more (0.5 ton for Specific Class I designations))
*2 Release and transfer of PRTR-designated substances per unit of consolidated net sales.
Results of groundwater measurements conducted on the premises of the business sites that used organic chlorine-based compounds in the past are as shown below.
|Business site||Substance||Measured groundwater value||Environmental standard|
|Tsukuba Plant||Trichloroethylene||Non-detected (less than 0.0001mg/L)||Less than 0.03 mg/L|
|Utsunomiya Plant||Trichloroethylene||Non-detected (less than 0.001mg/L)||Less than 0.03 mg/L|
The Kubota Group has set rules for identifying and properly managing chemical substances in products in order to comply with REACH regulations* in Europe and other chemical substance regulations.
Since RY2010, chemical substances in products have been classified as one of the three following categories and managed appropriately. With cooperation from our suppliers, we investigate chemical substances in products on a global basis.
* REACH Regulations: EU Regulations for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical