Kao Corp. (TYO:4452) is beefing up its efforts at zero waste and carbon neutrality, both of which are key parts of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.
Taking the lead here is the Recycling Science Research Center, which collaborates with outside partners and represents an interdepartmental project involving researchers from multiple R&D departments. Viewing recycling as a means to an end, the project’s vision is to eventually achieve net carbon neutrality and reduce waste. The Recycling Science Research Center aspires through its industry–government–academia efforts to a model that goes far in attaining net carbon neutrality while also being feasible for business.
The Recycling Science Research Center’s three undertakings, all with outside partners, involve recycling film containers, diapers and ocean plastic. Some of the innovations the research center is leading include containers made with a single recyclable material and film containers that are completely compatible with horizontal recycling.
Last year, the Recycling Science Research Center worked with partners like Toppan Printing Co. Ltd. (TYO:7911) and Ichikawa Kankyo Engineering Co. Ltd. on testing containers made from a single material. In April, Kao will begin supplying public facilities with bottles derived from recyclable materials as well as refillable film containers made solely from olefin. The company will then collect about 8,000 of the film containers to recycle the used film into bottles. For the future, Kao is eyeing the potential for film containers made from one material and fully capable of horizontal recycling.
Kao is also working with rival Lion Corp. (TYO:4912) on recycling film containers. They are considering a plan to place collection boxes at Tokyo department stores to gather used film containers from consumers. The products under development to make recycling more customary make washing easier and they create bubbles better. These features are meant to address consumer complaints that film containers make washing troublesome and that they are a hassle to take to a store.
Currently, specifications for everyday film containers vary between products and manufacturers, posing a technical hurdle for horizontal recycling. Kao is also developing high-quality horizontal recycling technology for film containers made of composite materials. The company is sharing technology with Lion so they can both make advances.
Meanwhile, the Recycling Science Research Center is working on ways to deal with plastic waste that enters the natural environment. The center has formed partnerships with local governments to work toward the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and is taking action to conserve the ocean environment.