On March 30, 2006, Toshiba initiated a dialog with four readers of ecomom, a magazine published by Nikkei BP, on Toshiba's eco-efficiency indicator Factor T, home appliances and the environment.
|Date||March 29, 2006|
|Themes||Toshiba's eco-efficiency indicator Factor T, home appliances and the environment|
|Participants||ecomom producer: Ms. Yukiko Matsudaira
ecomom readers: Ms. Hiroko Okamura, Ms. Mami Sakanoue, Ms. Marika Sotome, Ms. Shoko Sonoda
From Toshiba: Kiyoshi Sanehira, Chief Specialist, Corporate Environment Management Div., Staff of the CSR Div.
Staff engaged in product planning for home appliances
Ms. Matsudaira:Today we would like to discuss the relation between the environment and home appliances with ecomom readers and people from Toshiba. What are your views on environmentally conscious home appliances?
Ms. Sonoda:For me, the power consumption is important. In the case of a washing machine, I also care about the amount of water and the amount of detergent. Moreover, when buying a new home appliance, I try to select one whose parts can be recycled as much as possible, considering what happens when the product comes to the end of its life.
Ms. Sakanoue:One shouldn't have to replace home appliances often, so robust ones are better. I also think running costs, such as electricity and water consumption, are important.
Ms. Okamura:Recently, I also care about stand-by power. So I unplug the cable or turn off the main power. I like the idea of home appliances that don't consume stand-by power.
Ms. Sotome:Talking about environmentally conscious home appliances, I'd like to have a garbage disposal. It should be as compact as possible and equipped with child lock.
Ms. Matsudaira:The Factor T featured in a recent issue of ecomom, which all of you have, is our main subject today. Mr. Sanehira (Toshiba), will you please briefly tell us about Factor T?
Mr. Sanehira:Factor T is an index developed by Toshiba, taking convenience and functions of products and the products' environmental impacts into account. Factor T allows us to clarify eco-efficiency of any product in any field quantitatively. As a result, we now place the same emphasis on the environment as we do on functions from the development and design phases onward.
To calculate Factor T, first of all, eco-efficiency is calculated by dividing the value of a product by the product's environmental impact. Next, the eco-efficiency of the new model and that of the benchmark model are compared. Specifically, the eco-efficiency of a 2006 model is divided by the eco-efficiency of a 2000 model. The obtained value or factor is Factor T, which indicates to what extent the eco-efficiency of a given product has improved. Our main objective today is to find better ways of communicating Factor T to consumers so that they can understand it.
Ms. Matsudaira:So, you mean Toshiba wanted to somehow measure the convenience and environmental consciousness of a product and let consumers know the degree of improvement in convenience and environmental consciousness. And Factor T is what Toshiba came up with. Can you get the idea of Factor T?
Ms. Sakanoue:Well, it's rather complicated. It would be simpler if you just stated that the electricity bill is a particular percentage of what it was a certain number of years ago or the product has become more durable.
Ms. Matsudaira:I see. You mean the degree of improvement should be expressed concretely.
Ms. Sonoda:Well, I also found it a bit too difficult. It would be easier to understand if CO2 emissions were expressed as the number of logs one would have to burn to emit an equivalent amount of CO2, like in the case of the explanation of the advantage of hybrid cars.
Ms. Matsudaira:The key is the ease of understanding. If the performance of a product has been enhanced but its environmental impact has also increased because it consumes more detergent, water, and so on, that wouldn't be good. On the contrary, if the product is very environmentally conscious but its usability is poor, that wouldn't be good either. Factor T is something that combines both perspectives. Although Factor T is a convenient criterion for internal use, it may be a bit difficult for consumers. What do you think, Ms. Sotome?
Ms. Sotome:Well, although I think I now understand what Factor T is, I would not be able to explain Factor T to other people. It would be better if there were a simple explanation that even children could understand, for example, by comparing the degree of improvement of performance with the degree of enhancement of environmental consciousness.
Ms. Matsudaira:How about the concept of Factor T?
Ms. Okamura:I think the concept of Factor T is excellent. But, for example, if I were told that the factor of a particular product was 2.75, it wouldn't mean anything to me. I think that would also be true for the other people here today.
Mr. Sanehira:The factor of one of our current refrigerators is 2.75, which reflects the fact that the power consumption has been reduced to one third of that of a comparable model introduced five years ago. We conduct comprehensive assessment of products, taking into account not only power consumption but also environmental impacts concerning resources, manufacturing and recycling. But because all this data is combined in Factor T, it is unclear for consumers. I recognize the importance of communicating information clearly. We must step up our efforts to gain greater understanding among consumers.
Ms. Matsudaira:Everyone, thank you for your comments and suggestions. I hope Toshiba continues to be a source of excellent products.
The producer of ecomom (left) facilitated the dialog.
Participants with a keen interest in the environment offered plenty of ideas about products.
By listening to the opinions, we would like to review Factor T to make it more understandable and accessible to the readers.
Contents and Job Titles as of March 2006