A pair of Sony earbuds with its new, plastic-free packaging. (Photo by Keiichi Furukawa)

SONY to Eliminate Plastic Packaging, Starting With Phones And Earbuds

TOKYO — Sony will eliminate plastic in its packaging starting next year as companies worldwide shift to sustainable materials, Nikkei has learned.

The company will begin with smaller products weighing 1 kilogram or less, such as smartphones, cameras and audio accessories, in fiscal 2023. This covers an estimated 40% of the products Sony shipped in fiscal year 2021.

Sony becomes the first major Japanese electronics company to move toward eliminating plastic in packaging.

Larger products like televisions will have plastic eliminated from their packaging at an unspecified point in the future.

Sony will procure paper boxes from external sources and develop new packaging materials in-house from sources like bamboo and sugarcane fiber.

While TV packaging will continue to rely on polystyrene foam for the foreseeable future, Sony will look to adopt new technology that creates a foam from powdered recycled paper.

Sony’s plan “is a very novel initiative. I have not heard of any similar initiatives from other domestic manufacturers,” said Hiroyoshi Niwa at Deloitte.

Some of the world’s biggest electronics brands already have begun to slash plastic packaging.

Apple reduced the amount of plastic in its packaging to 4% of the total in fiscal 2021 and plans to eliminate its use by fiscal 2025. HP has switched from polystyrene to paper containers for personal computers and other devices.

Of the roughly 440,000 tonnes of products that Sony Group shipped in fiscal 2021, packaging accounted for about 90,000 tonnes.

The use of plastic in packaging and single-use products has been called one of the biggest threats to the environment. Most plastics do not readily decompose in nature and instead break down into microplastics, a pollutant particularly harmful to marine life.

The European Union decided in 2020 to ban such use of plastic by 2030 and shift all packaging to reusable and recyclable materials. China also decided in 2020 to phase out plastic in single-use tableware and other uses.

In Japan, a law took effect in April encouraging companies to rely less on single-use plastics. Convenience store chain FamilyMart and McDonald’s Japan are among the companies that have said they will stop providing plastic utensils.

 

 

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