Response to Circular Economy

The Circular Economy Concept

The Group believes that realizing the goal of a recycling-oriented society entails reforming the conventions of mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal in order to form a society with a reduced reliance on natural resources and that places the lowest possible burden on the environment. We are implementing a variety of initiatives to ensure that renewable resources are recycled within the limits of their renewable capacity. We are working to ensure that non-renewable resources are consumed in the most effective way possible, and that their use is curbed and shifted to other renewable resources over the long term.

出光興産, DFF Inc.

Plastic Recycling

Idemitsu and Environment Energy Co., Ltd. agreed to consider conducting a pilot test of a waste plastic recycling project at the Company’s Chiba Complex. In this test, we aim to utilize the waste plastic decomposition technology of Environment Energy and the oil refining and petrochemical equipment of the Chiba Complex in order to recycle mixed plastics, which are difficult to process using conventional technologies.

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Idemitsu does everything from crude oil refining to plastic manufacturing. Leveraging this strength, we will continue actively working to contribute to a low-carbon society by recycling waste plastic into petroleum.
We are also aware of the need to tackle the problem of marine plastic waste by rallying every company in the supply chain. We have joined two industry associations and started sharing and exploring information. We are also working to raise awareness of the problem of marine plastics within the Company.

Japan Initiative for Marine Environment (JaIME)

Established by five Japanese chemical-related associations (Japan Chemical Industry Association, The Japan Plastics Industry Federation, Plastic Waste Management Institute, Japan Petrochemical Industry Association, and Vinyl Environmental Council).

Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA)

Consisting of 361 business corporations and organizations from plastic supply chains (as of August 27, 2020)

Supporting Gunpla through Chemical Recycling

The Bandai Namco Group uses chemical recycling to support the plastic Gundam model kits called Gunpla that it sells. These kits have used polystyrene sourced from our affiliate PS Japan (PSJ) since their launch. Gunpla kits are major hit products with cumulative sales exceeding 700 million units and celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2020.
PSJ is a participant in the Gunpla Recycle Project launched by the Bandai Namco Group in 2021 through chemical recycling. The Project aims to produce the world’s first plastic model products created by chemically recycling by collecting the Gunpla frame parts called runners.
Chemical recycling technologies thermally crack used polystyrene. Applying cutting-edge technologies that revert polystyrene into raw material styrene monomers, PSJ will continue repeatedly conducting pilot tests to establish these technologies going forward.

出光興産, DFF Inc.

Solar Panel Recycling

In August 2020, a project proposed by Solar Frontier K.K., was adopted by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as a joint-research project to be supported by the programs “Technological Development for Promoting Solar Power Generation and Making It a Major Power Source” and “Technological Development for Achieving Long-Term Stable Energy Source based on Solar Power Generation.” The aim of this project is to demonstrate a technology for the material recycling of waste crystalline silicon and CIS solar cell modules in a way that generates lower environmental burden.

The volume of solar cell modules that must be disposed of is expected to grow radically from the 2030s onward. According to NEDO, the estimated annual volume of disposed modules will peak at some point in the 2035–2037 period, reaching somewhere between 170,000 and 280,000 tons. Anticipating these circumstances, Solar Frontier has recognized the importance of establishing a technology that enables a low-cost and eco-friendly process for recycling solar cells as part of efforts to popularize solar power generation without increasing environmental impact. Therefore, since 2010 the company has been engaged in the ongoing development of technology for recycling CIS thin-film solar cells.

In FY2019, Solar Frontier took on the development of element technology supporting the material recycling of laminated glass-type solar cells through a joint-research project with NEDO. Building on low-cost decomposition technology established by prior R&D and technological demonstration activities, the project confirmed the ratio of material recycling can potentially be increased to approximately 90%.

Through engagement in the latest joint-research project in fiscal 2019, we aim to further advance this technology with the aim of reducing recycling costs and enhancing the eco-friendliness of the process involved.

Specifically, over the four years from FY2020 to FY2023, we will take on the development of a recycling technology for crystalline silicon-based solar cells in addition to the development of similar technology for CIS thin-film solar cells. In the course of this endeavor, we will also aim to contain the cost of separation processing at 3 yen/W or lower for both types of cells. Moreover, we will develop applications for separated materials in line with our target of achieving a material recycling ratio of 90% or more. To this end, we intend to build a continuously operating demonstration plant for processing commercial-size solar cell modules at Solar Frontier’s Kunitomi Plant (Kunitomi-cho, Miyazaki Prefecture). We will thereby strive to demonstrate the targeted recycling technology by the end of the project period.

 

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出光興産, DFF Inc.

Carbon recycling

Treating CO2 as a resource, we promote carbon recycling by producing various carbon compounds from CO2 and reusing them for such applications as producing chemicals, fuel, and minerals. We are a member of the Working Group on the Roadmap for Carbon Recycling Technologies organized by the Japanese government, and is engaged in R&D on carbonate production and other technologies aimed at enabling the reuse of CO2 as a resource.

Carbonate Production

In tandem with Ube Industries, Ltd., JGC Corporation, JGC Japan Corporation and several universities, our company co-founded “CCSU (Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage with Utilization) Study Group” in 2019. This study group aims to promote an industry-academia collaboration to develop new technologies that convert CO2 emitted from thermal power plants and factories into resources by utilizing industrial waste with high calcium content. With the Japanese government promoting the development of technologies for CO2 recovery and other measures to combat global warming, we are working on technological development aimed at establishing methods for utilizing industrial waste containing high levels of calcium and other substances that react with CO2 to produce carbonates. By doing so, we strive to make CO2 a value-added material.

In July 2020, a project deriving from the study group was adopted by NEDO as a commissioned R&D project spanning five years from FY2020 through FY2024. Focused on the R&D of an accelerated carbonate production process employing calcium contained in industrial waste, including waste concrete, this project will take on the development of technologies for extracting raw material calcium from such waste and reacting it with CO2 contained in exhaust gas from industrial facilities in order to fix the carbon with the aim of commercializing and popularizing this process. Moreover, looking to assess the CO2 reduction effect of the accelerated carbonate production technology, we will test and evaluate it with the aim of improving the efficiency of calcium extraction and carbonate production as we strive to optimize the entire process and establish the technology.

Through our involvement in this commissioned project, we will play our part in industry-academia-government collaboration to develop new carbon fixation technologies that utilize CO2 emitted from power generation and manufacturing facilities. We will also step up our initiatives in fields ranging from raw material procurement to application development to achieve the social implementation of these technologies.

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Our Unique Technologies for Reusing CO₂ as Resources

We have succeeded in the direct synthesis of methane and other hydrocarbons from water and CO2 using a gas diffusion electrode loaded with our original catalysts. Most competing processes for synthesis begin by dissolving CO2 in water to generate a reaction. Our unique process avoids this step by employing a gas diffusion electrode to stimulate a direct reaction with CO2 gas. We are currently striving to improve the properties of our electrode catalysts, such as their reaction performance, cost-effectiveness, and durability, as we work to develop a process capable of treating greater volumes of CO2.

Looking ahead, we will promote research into this technology with the goal of establishing a highly efficient process that is powered by renewable energy and produces hydrocarbons, alcohol, and other useful substances from CO2 by 2030. In these ways, we will promote the reuse of CO2 and contribute to a sustainable society.

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出光興産, DFF Inc.