'Pursuing creation that respects the planet through Sony-developed materials'
June 24, 2021
Do you know how clothes and daily necessities that are indispensable for daily life, as well as electronic devices that enrich our lives and their packaging are made? The manufacturing of these products can place a burden on our natural environment, for instance through greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. At the Sony Group, we use our technology to independently develop environmentally conscious materials that are transformed into wide-ranging products, and delivered to our customers every day. In this edition of the Sony Corporate Blog, we will introduce the environmental efforts we are making through these Sony-developed original materials.
Triporous™, an Innovative New Material for Purifying Water and Air
The first is Triporous™, a porous carbon material that we produce from discarded rice husks, of which more than 100 million tons is generated worldwide each year.
Sony Group employees working on R&D in the area of battery electrode materials discovered that rice husks have a unique micro structure. Triporous takes advantage of this structure, and has outstanding adsorption properties that clean water and air. While some of you may be familiar with the cleansing properties of activated carbon (or charcoal) from your daily skincare products, Triporous has adsorption capabilities that enable it to remove even smaller dirt than activated carbon.
As shown below, Triporous contains a mix of 2-nm micropores, 2 to 50-nm mesopores, and 1-μm macropores, all in large quantities, and has more ridges than conventional activated carbon
For this reason, Triporous easily adsorbs large substances, such as high-molecular-weight organic compounds and viruses, which are difficult to adsorb with conventional activated carbon*1. It achieves approximately three times greater adsorption of cedar allergens, and approximately eight times greater adsorption of dog and cat allergens compared to conventional activated carbon, and eliminates more than 99% of viruses and bacteria. Furthermore, the speed of adsorption is rapid, achieving six times faster adsorption*2of the ammonia gas responsible for body and pet odors.
As such, this material is gaining widespread attention not only from an environmental perspective, but also for its performance, and we are now engaged in collaborations with partners across various industries.
Under the brand Triporous FIBER™, various companies including UNITED ARROWS LTD., Tabio Corporation, Mizuno Corporation, COMME CA MEN (FIVE FOXes Co.,ltd.), SAZABY LEAGUE, Ltd. ESTNATION COMPANY and ISSEY MIYAKE INC. have been developing apparel products such as T-shirts, underwear, socks and face masks incorporating the material. It is also being utilized in areas other than clothing. For instance, benches, curtains and counter chairs in parts of the Sony Store Nagoya and Sony's headquarters building use Triporous FIBER.
Other examples include a face wash using Triporous, launched by the company MOON-X. Triporous is also being used to protect artwork, craft products and cultural assets at various locations such as the World Heritage Byodoin Temple.. We are planning to expand its implementation to water filters for water purification, and the food and pharmaceuticals sectors as well.
Apparel products in collaboration with UNITED ARROWS.
Triporous skincare products for oily skin.
SORPLAS™, Flame-retardant recycled plastic material
©ByodoinCurrently verifying air purification performance of Triporous at the cultural property warehouse of World Heritage Byodoin Temple.
The bench incorporating Triporous FIBER
（Entrance area, 1F, Sony Headquarters）
The second material is SORPLAS™, a flame-retardant recycled plastic that achieves up to 99% recycled content.
The fact that recycled plastics conventionally used in electronic products only include around 30% of recycled materials*3, indicates the significance of this figure.
 Recycled content 99%*4
 Flame retardants, other additives 1%
Typical recycled flame-retardant polycarbonate plastic*5
 Petroleum-based virgin plastic*655%
 Recycled content 30%  Flame retardants, other additives 15%
Our development of SORPLAS began more than two decades ago. At that time, we were engaged in research into how we could effectively upcycle scrap plastic generated at Sony manufacturing sites. In the process of our research, we blended flame retardant, originally developed by Sony, with polycarbonate plastic sourced from scrap plastic, and in doing so we arrived at SORPLAS.
Our original Sony-developed flame retardant and SORPLAS pellets.
The advantages stemming from the minimal use of flame retardant in SORPLAS are not limited to the groundbreaking levels of recycled material content that can be included. Generally, if a large amount of additive is used, it will accelerate the deterioration of the resin during recycling. However, SORPLAS can be recycled several times with little loss of performance. In addition, as a high-quality plastic, it has the leading level of durability and heat resistance among flame-retardant polycarbonate plastics. What is more, it maintains a beautiful finish that requires no extra coatings to add color or glossiness.
Moreover, SORPLAS has excellent recyclability. In the same way as general recycled materials, properly recovered materials can be re-pelletized for use again*7, in brand new products.
Crush & Re-pelletize Mold Products
Disassembly Collect from Market
However, there were various challenges to putting SORPLAS to practical use. The process of molding plastic is similar to that of making Taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake cooked using molds. If the viscosity of the material poured into the mold is too hard, the material will not flow throughout the mold, and if it is too soft, the strength will be weakened. In the case of virgin plastic, raw materials suitable for the material properties required by the product can be used, but the characteristics of recycled materials are not constant because the raw materials are composed of multiple materials, and in the past, adopting plastics with a high proportion of recycled materials, particularly for large exterior parts, has been difficult.
In order to overcome these issues, we repeatedly examined the composition of SORPLAS, and ultimately achieved a balance between fluidity and strength, while maintaining a high utilization rate of recycled materials.
Having overcome these hurdles, SORPLAS has now been introduced into various products across the Sony Group. For example, certain BRAVIA XR™ OLED TV models released in April 2021 use SORPLAS for the back cover. This has enabled us to achieve a major reduction in the amount of virgin plastic used in the TV itself, by approximately 60% compared to conventional models*8.
In recent years, marine pollution caused by plastic waste has become a global issue. At the Sony Group, we are also engaged in efforts to reduce the amount of plastic we use, and have set a goal of completely eliminating plastic packaging for newly-designed small products as part of the 'Green Management 2025' medium-term environmental targets we launched in April this year. SORPLAS, which was born from our desire to add new value to waste material, is making a significant contribution to these activities as well.
100%*9Recyclable Packaging Material, Original Blended Material
Lastly, we come to our unique 'Original Blended Material,' which is made from bamboo, sugar cane fiber and post-consumer recycled paper. This new material has been used for the first time in the packaging of our WF-1000XM4 truly wireless noise canceling headphones we released this month. One of the design themes for WF-1000XM4 is sustainability, and by adopting this material for all the components other than the label, we have eliminated the use of plastic packaging for the first time in our headphone series.
While most paper products come from mature perennial trees, our blended packaging uses plants with short growth cycle like bamboo and sugarcane. Plants with a long growth cycle need to be managed by humans for generations before they can be used as raw materials, whereas plants with a short cycle can be cultivated as much as necessary for sorting and harvesting. It has the advantage of reducing the impact on nature.
Normally, most of the residue produced during sugar production is burned as fuel for power generation, causing CO2 emissions, but by using it as one of the blended materials, it can be further utilized as a recyclable resource.
Another material we use is post-consumer recycled paper. Recycling is achieved by reusing the paper we use on a daily basis. All of these raw materials are sourced in Asia, where the majority of the Sony Group's manufacturing sites are based.
In addition, Sony's Original Blended Material can be used for a variety of purposes because it can be molded and made in various ways by changing the mixing ratio of the three materials. Words and text can be imprinted through embossing without the use of ink, so the amount use of ink can be reduced. This natural organic look is expressed by a combination of three materials and is uncolored.
Sony's Original Blended Material was created with recycling in mind. Therefore, packages made of the material can be collected alongside other paper materials, without the need for additional sorting*9.
Sony Group's Environmental Initiatives
By sharing the origins of Original Blended Material, Sony also aims to create opportunities to consider its environmental initiatives with customers.
As the Sony Group can only operate its businesses in a world where people, society and the planet are healthy, we are focused on various initiatives to address the conservation and improvement of the environment. Under the 'Road to Zero' long-term plan we established in 2010 that strives to achieve a zero environmental footprint, we are engaged in a wide range of environmental activities, including the adoption of renewable energy.
The efforts we are undertaking through our original materials are another such example, and we will continue to proceed with these measures and more as we consider what we can do to contribute to a sustainable society and environment.
*1 Compared to activated carbon made from coconut shell.
*2 Comparison based on equal mass.
*3 As of June 2014, according to Sony research. In the case of typical flame-retardant recycled polycarbonate plastic.
*4 Amount of recycled content varies depending on application.
*5 A type of plastic
*6 Contains no recycled content.
*7 Actual recyclability of SORPLAS™ depends on availability of recycling infrastructure in the country or region.
*8 Compared to 2018 models. For details, see here. The reduction rate depends on the model.
*9 This product packaging is recyclable only in areas with appropriate recycling programs.
Sony Group Corporation published this content on 24 June 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 24 June 2021 01:10:07 UTC.