The Ricoh Group uses its chemical substance control system to monitor data on chemical substances used, discharged, and disposed of at business sites. The system is designed to promote the reduced use of chemical substances, to prepare materials for PRTR reporting, and to speedily respond to inquiries received from around the world.
Chemical substance control system
The Ricoh Group is promoting the establishment of a chemical substance risk management system across the Group based upon the concept of risk management. The Ricoh Group is seeking to establish a risk management system that will satisfy the following four requirements:
(1) assure safety regarding chemical substances used in the manufacture of Ricoh products and discharged/emitted into the environment, by identifying and managing the amounts used and discharged;
(2) evaluate the lifecycle risk of chemical substances that have the potential to affect local residents and/or local ecosystems;
(3) eliminate risks that exceed acceptable levels through management and reduction efforts; and
(4) effectively share information on risks obtained through such evaluations with related parties. In fiscal 2010, we made a detailed assessment of risks that may impact local residents in relation to the chemical substances used in the manufacturing processes. In fiscal 2011, we conducted a detailed assessment of risks associated with discharged water that may impact water-borne creatures in the surrounding area.
|Hazard indicator||Hazard classification in GHS*|
of chemical substances
|Risk = hazard class x exposure amount|
|Evaluated substances||Chemical substances used for manufacturing and/or research and development purposes|
|Managed group||Global (Ricoh Group)|
|Action||• Clarification of material balances(PRTR calculation method)
• Registration of MSDS(including GHS hazard classification)
• Establishment of risk evaluation procedures(scenario setting, hazard evaluation and setting reference value for evaluation, exposure evaluation, risk rating)
• Development of a system to manage/reduce risk
• Realization of risk communication
The Ricoh Group, in compliance with the SAICM*1 approach, has begun to develop a group-wide risk assessment-based chemical substance risk management system. Using this system in cooperation with the Research Institute of Science for Safety and Sustainability, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), we conducted environmental assessments of two risk factors arising from our production sites and R&D centers: (1) substances emitted into the air that may affect the health of local residents; (2) substances discharged into the water that may harm the ecosystems of water-borne creatures in the surrounding areas.
Risk assessment of airborne materials, applied to all chemical substances emitted in the course of research/development and manufacturing of Ricoh products, consists of two steps. First, screening is conducted on each substance in terms of the amount emitted according to the GHS hazard*2 level scale. Then, substances for which the resulting calculated value exceeds the predetermined threshold level are subject to a diffusion simulation analysis that incorporates weather information in surrounding areas of the production sites/R&D centers, which is aimed at assessing the health risks to local residents. For this evaluation, we refer to hazard standards, including the no-observed-adverse-effect level and other specific safety limits regarding use of the evaluated substances.
The assessment of environmental risks to water ecosystems is carried out using similar procedures. First, screening is conducted for each substance in terms of the amounts discharged according to the GHS hazard level scale. Next, substances for which the resulting value exceeds the predetermined threshold level are subjected to a more detailed analysis using estimated concentration levels of each substance in the water of the relevant river calculated based on the drought-level average flow volume*3. Risks are evaluated based on reference to previous monitored data and the no-observed-effect concentration levels that have been determined for water-borne creatures.
In order to ensure that our business activities have no impact on neighboring areas, these assessments adopt conservative assumptions and strict standards. By conducting simulation analysis, an approach used to assess impact risks of chemical substances on the environment and human health, we can manage hazardous substances more effectively. In this way, the Ricoh Group is committed to developing and operating a Group-wide system to manage chemical substances throughout the product lifecycle, employing the world’s most advanced risk management approach.
Focusing on “environmentally sensitive chemical substances,” which refers to PRTR-target substances and other hazardous chemicals used in particularly large amounts at Ricoh sites, the Group established a system to control and reduce the use of these substances in 1999, and has made continued efforts to reduce amounts of the applicable substances used in and discharged from its manufacturing, research and development sites. Under this system, an environmental impact coefficient* is set for each substance and environmental risk levels for each are ranked using the set coefficients and amounts used/discharged. Then, higher-ranked substances are assigned a higher priority for control and elimination. Using this method, we have achieved substantial reductions of 79.9% and 93.4%, respectively, in the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals from fiscal 2000 across the Group, significantly exceeding the targets.
It is recognized that exposure to chlorinated organic solvents (COS) is likely to raise human health risk (carcinogenicity) and environmental risk (soil contamination and airborne pollution). In deference to this recognition, the Ricoh Group has worked to avoid using these harmful chemical products at manufacturing sites both within the Group and at the sites of its external manufacturers, and in fiscal 2005, complete Group-wide abolition was achieved.
Two years later, however, some companies that joined the Group after the above COS abolition still were using the solvents, so we began working to again regain our Group-wide abolition status. We strived to gain cooperation from the new members and their entrusted manufacturers for the anti-COS initiative, explaining the Group policy and instructing them on formula modification, quality inspection, inventory adjustment and other necessary measures. After years of vigorous efforts, we updated the status of COS use to complete abolition in July 2012.