Updated on August 29, 2018
The Sony Group has developed a group-wide approach to the management of chemical substances used at sites where the use of these chemicals is controlled by legislation, designated as having a potentially harmful impact on the environment, or used in large quantities.
Under the Green Management 2020 environmental mid-term targets, chemical substances are categorized into four classes. Sony carefully manages and reduces the amount transferred as air, water, or soil emissions and waste. In countries where no legal reporting requirements exist for chemical management, Sony sites apply standards based on Japan's Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) as internal rules. Chemical substances are classified as follows:
Sony is working to achieve its targets for reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air by 50% from the fiscal 2000 level. VOC emissions into the air were approximately 733 tons in fiscal 2017, 60% lower than fiscal 2000 levels and up 11% from fiscal 2016. At its semiconductor fabrication facilities, which are the main source of VOC emissions, Sony is replacing VOCs with alternative substances and reducing VOC use in manufacturing processes. Sony has also been developing compact VOC treatment systems, and it is steadily installing them. In fiscal 2017, handling volume of chemical substances per unit of consolidated net sales were 0.0062 tons/million yen in Japan and 0.0009 tons/million yen outside Japan.
Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (SCK) collaborated with an equipment manufacturer to develop a proprietary volatile organic compound (VOC) treatment system as part of efforts to reduce the amount of VOCs released. Conventional VOC treatment systems are installed near ventilation duct outlets. Since such equipment is designed to treat extremely rarefied organic substances, it is very large, making space and cost constraints an issue for semiconductor plants that want to install these types of systems. SCK responded by focusing on production equipment for highly concentrated organic substance and developed a small, fixed condensing-type VOC treatment system in conjunction with an equipment manufacturer. The newly developed system can be installed near production equipment and is able to treat VOCs efficiently.
Sony succeeded in completely eliminating first-generation chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from its manufacturing processes in 1993 and banned the use of second-generation hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) at the end of fiscal 2000. Sony business sites currently prohibit the use of ozone-depleting substances stipulated under the Montreal Protocol. Sony uses CFCs as a refrigerant in some air-conditioning units only. Compliance with laws and regulations in each country is ensured, and strict care is taken to prevent leakage of CFCs from these units during maintenance.
To carry out effective risk management of chemical substances and emergency responses, the Sony Group has enacted the Sony Group Standards for Site Environmental Risk Management, which set the management standard and give examples of improvement measures. Based on these standards, at each site Sony has implemented accident prevention measures, including prohibiting the burial of tanks for chemical substances and pipes, and various leak prevention measures. In addition, Sony rigorously works to prevent environmental accidents through ongoing improvements to its systems based on regular audits at each site, information sharing among sites and other initiatives. Sony has established a system whereby its sites are required to promptly report environmental accidents to the authorities and to take appropriate countermeasures. No such accidents were reported at any of Sony's sites in fiscal 2017.
In the event that an incident of soil or groundwater contamination is identified at a Sony site in a voluntary check or other assessment, remediation processes are implemented in compliance with pertinent local laws and ordinances. For example, Sony Group companies in Japan deal with the occurrence of contamination of soil and groundwater at Group sites by taking steps in line with the Sony Group Standard for Assessing Soil and Groundwater, an internal document that sets out procedures that comply with Japanese laws and ordinances. This manual stipulates that issues be addressed through the following three phases:
Phase 1: Investigate past and present chemical use and confirm the existence or otherwise of used or unused underground tanks, buried piping, other similar equipment, or previous incidents, at the site. Perform an inspection of the site to ascertain whether there is any residual soil or groundwater contamination.
Phase 2: Based on the investigations undertaken in Phase 1, carry out an assessment of the areas that are potentially contaminated. Undertake measurements at these locations in line with the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act.
Phase 3:If any contamination is identified based on these results, carry out prevention and remediation procedures.
Incidents of soil and groundwater contamination resulting from operations have been confirmed at two Sony Group sites, as shown below. In response, Sony has been remediating the contamination and submitting regular reports to authorities.
|Site||Date Contamination Confirmed||Substance(s) Detected||Cause||Response/Current Status|
|Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations Corporation Inazawa Site (Japan)||June 2001 (Result of voluntary assessment)||Fluorine||Leak from crack in drainage pipe||The site has discontinued use of the equipment that caused the contamination, removed the contamination, and is monitoring groundwater. Analysis carried out in fiscal 2017 found substances in a concentration of 1.30 mg per liter.|
|Sony Corporation's Atsugi Technology Center (Japan)||March 2015 (Result of voluntary assessment)||Fluorine and its compounds||Leakages in areas where the substances had been previously used||According to the results of reporting to government, the site was designated as an "area that poses no risk of damage to human health" because, despite the fact that soil and groundwater contamination have been confirmed on the premises, there is no likelihood that the contamination has leaked into neighboring sites. The site continues to remove contamination from areas exceeding legal concentrations and to monitor groundwater as directed by the government in August 2016. Designation was partially withdrawn in January 2018. Groundwater is being monitored for contamination. Concentration in groundwater is currently below legal standards.|