We are considering the environment in the entire product life cycle from planning and product design to transport and post-consumption recycling.
Setting Environmental Standards for Containers and Packaging
Containers and packaging protect and preserve the quality of products until reaching the customers. However, most of them become waste after the content is consumed by the customer. Suntory Group recognizes the social and environmental impacts that containers and packaging cause and established voluntary "Guidelines for the Environmental Design of Containers and Packaging" in 1997. Designs are made following the Guideline such as selecting material for labels and color of glass bottles that consider recycling. In addition, we are engaging in initiatives from the stand point of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to reduce environmental impact of containers and packaging.
Three Rs of Containers and Packaging
The Suntory Group works to develop containers and packaging that give consideration to the environment, based on the Three Rs of "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle". We work on designs that take into account usability from the point of consumption by the customer to recycling, and focus on designs that are lighter as well as use materials that have a lower impact on the environment and are easier to recycle. We also work in collaboration with various recycling organizations and local governments to promote recycling.
Policy on 3Rs of Containers and Packaging
Initiatives in Plastic Bottles
We are dramatically decreasing the amount of resources that we use and are actively introducing renewable resources as a measure to limit the environmental impact as much as possible. At the same time, we are conducting design and development while also taking into account the usability by customers.
In regards to plastic bottle containers, we are striving forward according to our 2R+B strategy that is unique to Suntory. The concept is to make thoroughly efficient use of resources by reducing the amount of resins used, and by using recycled materials, while replacing petroleum-based raw materials with bio-based raw materials as much as possible in the development.
Environmentally-friendly Green Eco Bottle*1
The 550mL plastic-bottled (Mineral Water) Suntory Tennensui renewed in May 2013 is packaged in the lightest plastic bottle in Japan*2 (11.3g) developed by Suntory’s technology, which resulted in approximately 40% reduction of using petroleum-derived ingredients per bottle. The weight of 2L bottles is reduced by 20% per bottle compared to conventional bottles. By bringing the weight to 29.8g, we were the first in Japan to achieve the weight of less than 30g for 2L bottles.
*1An original name we give to PET bottles that have reduced environmental impact by using methods such as ground breaking weight saving such as realizing lightest weight bottle in Japan or using plant based materials.
*2Plastic bottles for mineral water (500 mL to 600 mL) in Japan. As of April 2019
Introducing Record Breaking Thinnest Roll Label*1 for Plastic Bottle Beverages in Japan
We are reducing the weight of product labels on plastic bottles to reduce environmental impact. We were able to realize the thinnest plastic bottle roll label in Japan at 16µm (micrometer*2) in 2012. An even thinner label at 12µm has been introduced to the 2L plastic bottles and 550mL plastic bottles of our Suntory Tennensui mineral water in April 2014. Thereafter, we have been advancing the expansion to all of our products that use roll labels. This has allowed us to reduce CO2 emissions 25%*3 compared to conventional labels.
*1These labels are not removed through the use of perforations; instead, the glued portion is peeled off.
*3Reduction rate in the film (label) manufacturing process
Adoption of the Japan’s lightest bottle cap that uses 100% bio-based PET materials*1.
We are also reducing our environmental impact in the bottle caps on plastic bottles. Since September 2016, we have adopted 1.85g bottle caps, which are the lightest in Japan*1 that use 30% bio-based PET materials for Suntory Minami-Alps Tennensui mineral. This innovation reduces the use of petroleum-derived raw materials by 35%*2 and decreases CO2 emissions by 27% compared to conventional PET bottle caps.
In addition, we have evolved our environmental efforts by using biomaterials and from March 2019 started using a polyethylene cap made ethylene which is 100% plant-derived for our 550ml Suntory Aso Natural Water bottles at our Kyushu Kumamoto Plant (Kamimashiki District, Kumamoto Prefecture). This innovation reduces the use of petroleum-derived raw materials by 90%*2 and decreases CO2 emissions by 56% compared to current PET bottle caps.
*1*2 Polyethylene caps made from 100 percent plant-derived raw materials in place ethylene, the main raw material. However, except for traces of oil-derived components and coloring components when the manufacturing line is switched
*2As of April 2019
*3One bottle of Suntory Tennensui Mineral Water (550mL)
*4One bottle cap of Suntory Tennensui Mineral Water (550mL)
Evaluation from Society
Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. was awarded the 2016 Minister of the Environment Award for Promoters of the Development of a Recycling-Oriented Society for the high praise that it received for activities to reduce the environmental impact, which includes the adoption of the world’s first soft drink plastic bottle cap that uses 30% bio-based PET materials.
Primary lightweight plastic bottle products
Initiatives in In-house Blow Molding PET Bottles
In Minami Alps Hakushu Water Plant of Suntory Products Ltd., PET bottles are manufactured by blowing PET preform from PET resin. A comprehensive design and management from shaping bottles to filling them is made possible, making it easier to reduce the amount of resin used and weight of the bottle.
In addition, use of fuel and CO2 emission from transporting and purchasing already made PET bottles. Furthermore, we reuse high pressure air used during shaping of PET bottles to use energy effectively and reduce CO2 emission.
- CO2 emissions can be reduced 50% or more.
Introducing Thinnest Shrink Labels in the World through New Technology
There are primarily two types of labels for the product labels for soft drinks -- roll labels and shrink labels.
Roll labels are labels wrapped around bottles in which thinning of the label can be adopted, but there are some limitations according to the bottle geometry.
On the other hand, shrink label uses thermal contraction, enabling use for various shapes of bottles but there is a limiting thinning due to its process.
Thus, we have commercialized Roll On Shrink On (ROSO) method that has the characteristics of both shrink label and roll label to realize thinning of labels without being effected by the shape of the bottle.
The world's thinnest 18µm shrink label was introduced in some products, including the 420mL Orangina bottles. This reduces CO2 emissions by 50% or more.
Plastic Bottle Development in the Spirits Business
We are taking great advantage of the technology cultivated in our soft drink business in our spirits business. Suntory Spirits Ltd. has launched the 4L 110g plastic bottle, which is the lightest in Japan, to whisky products such as Kakubin, Torys and other alcoholic products starting from June 2016. We are reducing the amount of the PET plastic used through a maximum of an 18% reduction from the conventional 134g and 120g bottles to reduce the yearly CO2 emissions by approximately 460 tons (17%)*. The bottles are also been made easy-to-use by removing the handle area that had adopted conventional PET bottles and applying a new grip area deep in the center of the bottle with the cooperation of plastic bottle manufacturers.
Development of Extremely Lightweight* Heat-resistant Plastic Bottles Through the Use of Japanese Technological Skill
The Japanese manufacturing technology and design skills for reducing weight of plastic bottles have been used in Group companies in Europe. In 2017, we have successfully developed a heat-resistant PET bottle for Vietnam that is the lightest in South East Asia (18 g). Creating the lightest heat-resistant bottle project was a technological challenge in this region, but we have succeeded in the project through mutual cooperation with Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert, Ltd. and Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage Co., Ltd.
*For 500mL class heat-resistance PET bottles (at the time of introduction in April 2019)
As a further effort, Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Ltd, Suntory Garuda Beverage, and equipment manufacturers collaborated in 2018 in Indonesia to utilize technology for using uplift pressure on resistant PET bottles, successfully developing a heat resistant PET bottle that is lighter at 17g.
Recycle: Recycling Plastic Bottles
RePET Bottles for Horizontal Recycling of PET Resin in Japan
In 2011, Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. partnered with Kyoei Sangyo Co., Ltd. to develop the Japanese beverage industry’s first B-to-B*1 mechanical recycling system*2 for PET bottles.
Reused PET resin was 50% at the time of introduction but after confirming that stable supply was possible after about a year of operation, we increased the percentage of reused PET resin to 100%. This realized manufacturing of reused PET bottle that reduce CO2 emission (including CO2 emission from manufacturing PET resin) by 83%*3 compared to bottles made by 100% oil based materials. This PET bottle using 100% reused PET resin is used for many products including 2L Suntory Oolong Tea and Iyemon.
This system received Commendation for Contributors to the Development of a Recycling-oriented Society in 2011 and 2012, and Commendation for Global Warming Prevention (Technological Development and Commercialization Category) in 2011 both from the Minister of the Environment, and Nikkei Global Environmental Technology Excellence Award in 2011 for the first time in the food industry. We also received the 21st Global Environment Award in 2012 and Environmental Excellence Award hosted by the Hitachi Environment Foundation and Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Ltd. in 2013.
*1B-to-B: "Bottle to bottle," signifying the creation of a new PET bottle from a recycled one.
*2Mechanical recycling: The pulverization, cleansing, and return of used products to a material status. Recovered resin is processed for a regulated period under high temperatures and low pressure to remove impurities from the regenerated materials, yielding reclaimed PET resin suitable for use in bottle production.
*3Compared with virgin resin
Adoption of F-to-P direct recycling technology
In 2017, as part of our recycling efforts, we worked with Kyoei Sangyo Co., Ltd. and overseas machine manufacturers (EREMA in Austria and SIPA in Italy) to succeed in developing F-to-P direct recycling technology expected to be effective in further reducing the environmental burden, and started manufacturing in the fall of 2018. F-to-P direct recycling technology can directly manufacture preforms after processing crushed and cleaned flake from recycled PET bottles through a high-temperature dissolving process. Compared to the conventional system which required several processes such as crystallization and drying before manufacturing preforms, the F-to-P direct recycling technology can reduce CO2 emissions 25%* (manufacturing 1 kg of preforms for PET bottles).
*Processes from spent PET bottles to the preform
Introducing and Promoting Product Labels Made with Recycled PET Bottles
Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. introduced product label made with recycled PET bottles in part of 2L bottles for major non-alcoholic beverages such as (Mineral Water) Suntory Tennensui, Iyemon and Suntory Oolong Tea in November 2010 and currently uses role label* method for all its products.
This label is the first role label in the industry to use recycled PET bottles and the percentage of recycle PET bottles used has been increased from 60% to 80% in March 2012.
*These labels are not removed through the use of perforations; instead, the glued portion is peeled off.
Bio: Actively Use of Plant-derived Resin
Aiming for 100% plant-derived plastic
The Suntory Group aims to replace petroleum-derived raw materials with renewable raw materials as much as possible in the development of plastic bottles. We implemented plastic bottles that use 30% bio-based PET materials for the 550mL (Mineral Water)Suntory Tennensui in 2013.
Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Anellotech, Inc., a green innovation and technology company in the United States, have worked in a collaborative development of a plastic bottle that uses 100% plant-derived raw materials, and construction has begun in 2016 on a development and testing plant to produce plastic bottle materials in the state of Texas. We are planning to initiate the introduction of plastic bottles made from 100% bio-based PET materials around the (Mineral Water) brand of Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. in the future. In development, we are aiming to generate only plant-derived raw materials of non-foodstuff (wood chips) so that we do not impact the supply chain of foodstuff ingredients with paraxylene, which is a precursor of terephthalic acid that makes up 70% of the raw materials for plastic bottles.
Efforts in Cans, Glass Bottles, and Barrels
Lightweighting in Cans
We are furthering the lightweighting in cans such as those used for beer and coffee by aiming to dramatically reduce the amount of resources that are used while maintaining the usability for customers.
We have conducted initiatives for aluminum cans that include shrinking the diameter of the lid of beer cans in 2008 and the bodies of aluminum cans containing low-alcohol beverages such as beer and Chu-Hi in 2014. In addition, the promotion of even more lightweighting is underway with the introduction of thinner bodies even in steel cans for coffee.
Lightweighting in Glass Bottles
The medium-sized glass bottle for The Premium Malt's has achieved weight savings of roughly 10g to 460g in 2014. The thickness of the body section that the label is adhered has been designed 0.2 to 0.3 millimeters thinner to prevent damage by bumping into other bottles. We are also improving the shape of the bottle so it does not get damaged when opening the bottle with cap opener and other improvements in the quality of the bottle.
Returnable containers for soft drinks had also conventionally used different bottles for each and every brand, but we standardized the specifications* in May 2016 to allow for bottles to be both pressure and heat resistant for the first time in Japan. The CO2 emissions were also reduced by 500 tons per year by reducing the conventional weight (300g-399g) drastically in these containers (245g).
*Targets for bottle lightweighting are our Soda, Ginger Ale, Tonic Water, Oolong Tea, Orangeaid, and Pepsi.
Reuse: Promoting Collection and Reuse of Containers
Reusing Glass Bottles and Barrels
Returnable containers (bottles, barrels, etc.) for beers and non-alcoholic beverages for restaurants are used often and we collect them via our own route and wash them for repeated use (in 2017, 94 million bottles were collected and reused). Furthermore, we support the collection of glass bottles that are disposed of by liquor stores and restaurants through building collection routes in the distribution channel by specialized business operators since 1974.
Non-returnable bottles are also effectively separated and collection routes utilized such as in each municipal.
Initiatives for Paper Packs and Cardboard
Reducing Weight of Cardboard
The Suntory Group has been participating in The Consumer Goods Forum Japan* that was launched in August 2011 to engage in activities to solve common issues in Japan. As part of the initiative, short flap cardboard cartons for beverages of small size plastic bottles started from spring of 2012 with the aim of contribution to environmental issues (preventing global warming, reducing waste, etc.) and improving work efficiency in the supply chain. Through this, we reduced the use of paper by about 20% compared to conventional cardboards.
*An organization of companies that agree with the philosophy of The Consumer Goods Forum (TCGF) that act on their own in Japan. It mainly consists from Japanese companies from consumer goods distribution industry and cooperatively engage in initiatives related to manufacturing, distribution and sales.
Recycle: Easier-to-Collect Containers
Shifting to recyclable paper containers
From April 2010, paper containers for shochu and spirits have been gradually changed to more recyclable containers, and most has completed transition. In February 2014, we introduced similar paper containers with the renewal of Japanese casual wine "Delica Maison Delicious." We have been using containers with evaporated aluminum on its inside for preserving quality but it was difficult to separate paper and aluminum when recycling. The new paper container instead uses evaporated silica (glass material), which is more suitable for recycling.
Achieved 100% Use of FSC-certified Cardboard
The Suntory Group is gradually adopting paper packaging materials that have acquired the FSC certification*1 that ensures proper management of international forests for products made in Japan. Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. introduced FSC-certified cardboard packaging to (Mineral Water) Suntory Tennensui for products manufacture from August 2017. Since the end of February 2019, we have achieved 100% use of FSC-certified cardboard used for packaging all our Suntory Tennensui brand products. We are promoting the use of FSC-certified paper packaging materials throughout the Group with the sequential adoption of these materials for Suntory Beer Ltd. and Suntory Spirits Ltd. products and as packaging for six packs.
*1Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that certifies timber produced from forests globally as well as the distribution and manufacturing processes of the cut timber. This certification considers the environmental conservation of these forests and recognizes timber produced in an economical and sustainable manner which generates revenue for the local community.
Collaboration for Container Recycling
Suntory Group uses vast amount of container’s in its business. We are committed to recycling containers to reduce environmental impact in collaboration with industry organizations and local governments, as well as with our consumers. For example, we agree with the theme of 9 Tokenshi Containers and Packaging Diet Statement* promoted by 9 Tokenshi Waste Issue Exploratory Committee and participate in its activities.
In addition, Suntory Group comply with Containers and Packaging Recycling Law and bear the cost for commissioning remerchandising as a responsibility of business operator and participate in each recycling industry organizations to build efficient recycling system and promoting recycling.
*A cooperative initiative of nine prefectures and cities (Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, and Kanagawa prefectures and cities of Yokohama, Kawasaki, Chiba, Saitama and Sagamihara) and companies that are making initiatives to reduce weight of containers and packaging
Container recycle rate (based on data from industry groups)
Promoting Litter Control for Empty Containers
We are carrying out litter control activities for empty containers in order to beautify the environment and promote effective use of resources. We place one empty container collection box at every vending machine. We are also making efforts to raise awareness about recycling by affixing a Beautification Mark on vending machines as a way to prevent littering.
Issue of oceanic pollution from plastic bottles
The issue of oceanic pollution due to plastic bottles and other plastic containers is a serious one. The problem is being debated as an environmental issue around the world. The Suntory Group strives to resolve this issue by actively cooperating with countries, regions, and industries in various initiatives as a beverage company who handles many of these containers. We have always been promoting 2R+B while expanding activities to raise consumer awareness about recycling.
In the future, we aim to improve the recycling rate even further in each country and region around the world and will encourage activities to promote improvements together with our various stakeholders.
In addition, as a part of the employee volunteer activities, each member of the company sees this issue as something that needs to be handled at the individual level and takes action through efforts including participating in the Beach Cleanup Activity sponsored by a non-profit organization in Japan, and participating in cleanup activities in the Chicago River basin overseas (Beam Suntory employees). We are conducting enlightenment activities to encourage employees to volunteer in similar cleanup efforts.
The Suntory Group formulated the Plastic Policy in June 2019 and aims for 100% sustainability by using only recycled or plant-derived materials for all PET bottles used globally by 2030 and achieving zero use of virgin petroleum-based materials.