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How a Honda supplier cut waste by two-thirds in 10 years

Ikuhiro Kato, General Manager, Environmental Conservation Department, Production Operations, Keihin Corporation

Ikuhiro Kato, General Manager, Environmental Conservation Department, Production Operations, Keihin Corporation

A valued business partner for over 55 years

 Keihin Corporation, a manufacturer of motorcycle, automobile, and power equipment parts for Honda and others, commands the largest share of today's global market in motorcycle carburetors. Honda's business relationship with Keihin began back in 1957, a year after Keihin was founded. Keihin Seiki Manufacturing, the name of the company at the time, supplied the carburetors for Honda's first motorcycle, the Dream. Keihin also supplied the carburetors for the Honda Civic's legendary CVCC engine in 1975. Powered by this low-emission engine, the Civic became the first car model in the world to satisfy America's exhaust gas regulations (the 1970 Clean Air Act) which, at the time, were the strictest in the world and were even said to be impossible to meet.
 "We've worked with Honda from the very beginning, picking up quickly on changes in environmental needs and tackling each new challenge as it came," said Ikuhiro Kato, General Manager of Keihin's Environmental Conservation Department. "We started with mechanical products like motorcycle carburetors, then expanded into fuel injection systems, electronic control units, and other electronic products. Right now we have production centers in 14 countries, where we manufacture products for a broad line-up that includes hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles."
 For Honda to deliver environmentally responsible products year after year, the parts it uses need to have the highest environmental performance available. Keihin, which has grown alongside Honda for decades, is a vital business partner for driving advancements in environmental technology.
Major products Keihin supplies to Honda

Major products Keihin supplies to Honda

Matsuo Yatsu, Manager, Environmental Engineering Section, Environmental Conservation Department, Production Operations, Keihin Corporation

Matsuo Yatsu, Manager, Environmental Engineering Section, Environmental Conservation Department, Production Operations, Keihin Corporation

Waste generation at Keihin Corporation

Keihin has reduced waste to 1/3 of its FY2002 peak, despite an expansion in production during the same period.

Thirteen years after ISO certification, some dramatic improvements

 Although Keihin had been developing environmental technologies for its products for quite some time, it was in 1995 that it began focusing resources on the environmental aspects of other areas of its operations. The goal it set for this new initiative was ISO 14001 certification. ISO 14001, an international standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is a set of criteria for helping companies minimize the environmental impact of their activities. Acquiring this certification signifies that a company pays certain considerations to the environment.
 "We realized that, to survive in a world with growing environmental awareness, companies need to reduce their environmental impact not just for products and manufacturing processes but all corporate activities," said engineer Matsuo Yatsu, Manager of the Environmental Engineering Section in the Environmental Conservation Department. "That's why we started building our environmental management systems to acquire ISO 14001 certification."
 Their first step was to launch a new organization called the Environmental Conservation Office in 1995. The office led new company-wide environmental efforts, including those to reduce CO2 emissions and waste from R&D. In 1997, they created Eco-Action Plan 21, a concrete plan to raise their environmental management systems and worker education to a global standard. This plan gave the company the momentum it needed, and in 1999 Keihin realized its goal of acquiring ISO 14001 certification.
 More than 13 years have come and gone since then, and during that time the company has made steady progress in numerous areas. To reduce CO2 emissions, it began monitoring energy consumption by plant equipment, minimized power draw on off days, and took other actions both in Japan and abroad. These efforts proved effective, cutting emissions by 25% from fiscal 2000 levels.
  But one of the biggest improvements the company has made through these efforts is not only CO 2 emissions, but also the amount of waste released by its manufacturing plants. How to reduce and eliminate the unwanted byproducts of production is a perennial problem when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of plants. But Keihin went to the source of the problem, and managed to cut waste to one-third of its peak level in 2002, despite an expansion in production during the same period. How did it do it? The answer can be found at one of Keihin’s key production centers, located in Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan. The plants here are using some extraordinary waste processing systems, each uniquely tailored to its production environment.

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