Updated on August 23, 2017
At Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation's Kumamoto Technology Center (Kumamoto TEC), a large volume of water (groundwater) is used in semiconductor production. Kumamoto area, home to Kumamoto TEC, has always been blessed with abundant groundwater resources. However, the decline in groundwater has been a deep concern in recent years, and has been attributed to a decrease in the area of land used for rice paddy cultivation and an increase in the land used for residential purposes. Kumamoto TEC recognizes the importance of groundwater as natural capital, and is involved in continuous efforts to recharge* groundwater using neighboring paddies in cooperation with local environmental NGOs as part of its responsibility as a local business. From May through October, Kumamoto TEC uses its water facilities to help fill unused rice paddies with river water, thus allowing the extra water to penetrate into the soil and ultimately replenish the aquifer.
Groundwater recharge efforts at Kumamoto TEC began in fiscal 2003, and in fiscal 2016, 2.11 million m3 more water than Kumamoto TEC's yearly water usage (including tap water and groundwater) was recharged. Activities such as these are called payment for ecosystem services (PES)*, and they are an important part of protecting natural capital and biodiversity. These efforts have also been noted as an advanced example in the Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and the Biodiversity in Japan 2014 published by the Ministry of the Environment in Japan.
Kumamoto TEC is also involved in initiatives to encourage employees to purchase the agricultural crops produced in the groundwater recharge farming areas, thus helping to support local farmers and conserve groundwater resources.