Japan Partnership for Circular Economy

Japan Partnership for Circular Economy


Closed-Loop Recycling of Plastic

[Company / organization] Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Started time

Since 1999, before the Home Appliance Recycling Act came into effect in Japan in 2001, the Mitsubishi Electric Group has been promoting recycling business by operating the industry's first home appliance recycling factory. And in 2010, the Group began full-scale "Closed-Loop Recycling" of plastics collected from waste home appliances to be used again in Mitsubishi Electric home appliances.

Technology and business model

It had been difficult to recycle mixed plastics from crushed waste home appliances. Our group has established technologies to separate mixed plastics in high purity and to reuse them. Currently, we are developing "closed-loop recycling" business in which plastics collected from waste home appliances are reused for our products such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

Hyper Cycle Systems Corporation (HCS), a home appliance recycler, and Green Cycle Systems Corporation (GCS), which sorts plastics, play important role there. Waste home appliances are first dismantled and crushed by HCS. Then, the mixed plastics are separated, sent to GCS and sorted by type of plastic. Currently, GCS recycles about 80% of the mixed plastics into "high-purity plastics" equivalent to virgin materials. GCS has an annual processing capacity of about 15,000 tons.

In plastic sorting, purity and recovery rate are usually in trade-off relationship, but we succeeded in increasing recovery rate maintaining high purity by improving the electrostatic and X-ray sorting performance. Also by overcoming limitations such as mixed colors and non-plastic contamination with color separation and various modification technologies, it became possible to apply recycled plastics for parts of wide range of products; for example, white parts in refrigerators, and parts that require flame retardancy, weather resistance and impact resistance, such as those for cleaners, dehumidifiers and ventilation fans.

In addition, closed-loop recycled plastic has an advantage of smaller risk of price fluctuations unless the manufacturing cost changes significantly.

Achievements and goals

Closed-loop recycled plastic accounts for about 10 wt% of the plastic used in our air conditioners and 17-21wt% in refrigerators. We continue to advance our technology and promote the expansion of closed-loop recycling that is both environmentally friendly and economical.

Reference URL

- Mitsubishi Electric Group Environmental Report 2020 P.36 Closed-Loop Recycling of Plastic


- Mitsubishi Electric Advance Magazine, July 2020 “Advances in Mixed Plastic Sorting Technology and Expansion of Closed-Loop Recycling” (Japanese)


- Mitsubishi Electric Advance Magazine, December 2018 "Material Modification Technologies for Plastics in Closed-Loop Recycling System"