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ENVIRONMENT: Canon Goes Green


Recent Gauteng Business News

In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, organisations' efforts should span beyond what would be considered "run-of-the-mill", driving not only innovation that enables a greener society but also a lifestyle that sets the trend for future generations.

Indeed, the truly inspirational organisations aim to - through technological advancement - maximise resource efficiency; therefore creating greater value with fewer resources that in turn preserves the world we live in. It is ever-increasingly important for all links in the supply chain of ICT to ensure products deliver this innovation yet are conscious of the impact on the environment.

This said, what organisations are leading the way; which success stories really inspire us and motivate us to follow suit? Without a doubt one such organisation is Canon. The company's philosophy Kyosei which essentially
means: living and working together for the common good, has throughout the company's decades of existence taken cognisance of the impact of good business on the environment.

More practically, what do organisations such as Canon do to ensure that they deliver on their promises? For one, it starts with the day-to-day manufacture of products, therefore, what processes are put in place to ensure that environmentally sensitive processes occur from the get-go.

At the procurement stage, organisations should ensure that they minimise environmental impact by reducing CO2 during the transport of these materials as well as mitigating the need for harmful substances.

During the production stage, the use of multiple prototypes can be reduced by employing technology such as 3D graphics that give designers a "real-life" simulation of the designed product or part's function will be.

In the workplace and subsequent production line energy-saving production facilities form a critical part of the energy-saving lifecycle. Also, further reduction of energy waste is achieved through the introduction of Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) which will enables organisations to keep track of what impact the material production has on the overall manufacture process and its energy efficient operations.

However, energy saving and the resultant reduction in C02 emissions should not begin and end at the production phase; organisations should ensure that the usage of their products also promotes sound practices and honour the lifecycle's conservation efforts.

Here are a few steps organisations such as Canon employ to promote sound

. The promotion of both energy efficiency and convenience through
minimised energy consumption in standby mode, ultra-fast startup, etc.
. ECO-use support technology such as ECO mode, ECO switch).
. Suggestion of equipment settings and usages that balance convenience
and environmental performance.
. The creation of a "green market" that improves interface
technologies that display environmental impact during production use.

Lastly, but by no means the least, is the recycling process. Again, organisations such as Canon have expanded their collection and recycling systems for used products throughout their worldwide operations.

This includes promoting effectiveness through the mix of remanufacturing (REM), parts reuse, and recycling as well as the extraction and circulation of high-value added parts and materials.

At Canon the company uses various recycling processes to treat collected plastic appropriately for the products in which it is used. For example, the plastics used in such products as calculators can be processed as commodity plastics.

Treatments that upgrade recycled plastics to engineering plastics are needed for use in products that require such properties as flame retardance. In 2008, for example, the infusion of a special additive to deteriorated plastic during the recycling process resulted in a recycled plastic with the same level of impact strength and flame retardance as in new products.

Clearly, energy conservation is not a one-phased approach it - at the very least - should encompass a full lifecycle that at each step of the way contributes to the practice of environmentally-friendly business practices.

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