Precautionary Approach to Environmental Risks
In addition to evaluating environmental risks of the products we handle, we are committed to taking a precautionary approach to environmental risks. This commitment also extends to ITOCHU Group companies, reflecting the need to identify the impact on the global environment of the business activities of the Group as a whole.
Evaluating Environmental Risks Posed by Products Handled
We handle a wide and diverse range of products on a global scale. We thus carry out our own original environmental impact evaluations on all the products based on our belief that it is vital to evaluate the impact of these products to the global environment, the state of our compliance with environmental laws and regulations, and their relationship with stakeholders. We use a so-called LCA*-based analysis method at all stage of product life cycle from procurement of raw materials, production, and use, through disposal of products. For assessing the risks relating to climate change, shrinkage of rain forests, desertification, global warming and other factors related to climate change are included in the items subject to assessment in this analysis. If the evaluation shows that the impact on the global environment by particular products exceeds predetermined benchmarks, then we create manuals and the concrete procedures to manage transactions of these products.
- LCA (life-cycle assessment) is a method that evaluates the environmental impact of products at all stages of their life cycle, from raw materials, manufacturing, transport and use through to disposal and recycling or reuse.
Fact-finding Investigations of Group Companies
We analyze about 200 of our 326 Group companies (as of March 31, 2017) with relatively higher levels of impact on the global environment, and conduct investigations of about 10 to 20 of them per year. Over the 16 years to the end of March 2017, we did on-site investigation at 279 worksites. The evaluation is made using Q&As between auditors and management, inspections of plants, warehouses, and other facilities, surveys of wastewater released into rivers, and assessments of compliance with environmental laws and regulations.
Evaluating the Environmental Risks of New Investment Projects
ITOCHU Corporation and its subsidiaries in Japan employ a CSR and environmental checklist for investments (The items subject to assessment include the state of understanding of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in association with climate change risks.) to evaluate in advance the market, social and environmental impact of business investment projects entered via M&A in Japan and overseas. We revised this checklist to reflect the seven core subjects (Organizational Governance, Human Rights, Labor Practices, The Environment, Fair Operating Practices, Consumer Issues, Community Involvement and Development) of ISO 26000, and we began to utilize the new checklist in fiscal 2014. When specialist insight is needed, ITOCHU calls on specialized external bodies to render an advance inspection of the project. Action on the project then moves forward once inspection results and the presence of no major problems are confirmed.
Internal and External Inquiries and Our Response
In the year ended March 31, 2017, we received a total of 47 inquiries from outside the Company, which were broken down as follows: environmental groups (1), industry (18), government and industry groups (8), and media and research firms (3), requirement of ISO14001 certification from customers (28). There were no environment-related incidents, problems, lawsuits against the Company. Meanwhile, the number of inquiries from within the Company and ITOCHU Group companies was as follows: 95 inquiries regarding laws including Japan’s Waste Management and Public Cleaning Law, and 17 inquiries regarding business investments.