Policies and Our Approach
Water is a valuable resource for supporting people's lives and the source of the Suntory Group's corporate activities. Water is a renewable resource and will not disappear from the planet, but only about 0.01% of the planet's freshwater is available for human use. On the other hand, there is a prediction that people may face severe water scarcity in the future due to the increase of global population and climate change; that is to say, approximately five billion people will suffer from water shortages globally by 2050*. The global water scarcity involves numerous issues; in addition to drinking and domestic use, a substantial amount of water is used in food production. We have placed achieving water sustainability as the priority of the Suntory Group's Environmental Principles to promote various initiatives.
*World Meteorological Organization (WMO) “The State of Climate Services 2021”
Sustainable Water Philosophy
As a company that depends on and benefits from the water and as a company that operates globally, the Suntory Group must contribute towards a sustainable society by taking an honest look at the world's water challenges. Based on our Basic Environmental Principle, we have formulated the Suntory Group Sustainable Water Philosophy to develop initiatives that contribute to solving water issues in each world region of the world. Based on this philosophy, we are developing and promoting initiatives that are tailored to the conditions for water resources in each area of the world where we do business.
Suntory Group’s Sustainable Water Philosophy (Established 2017)
Water is the most important ingredient of our products, as well as a precious shared resource. In order to achieve "water sustainability," the first pillar of the Suntory Group's Environmental Policy, we want to share these values with all Suntory Group members and apply them where we operate in order to answer to our stakeholders' expectations.
1.Understanding the natural cycle of water
We investigate watersheds around our sites to understand the local hydrological cycle, using a scientific approach when needed.
2.Promoting environmentally conscious water use
We reduce the environmental impacts of water use on the natural water cycle by implementing 3R activities and returning water to nature after adequate treatment.
We conserve our watersheds and endeavor to improve local water quality and quantity in cooperation with stakeholders for a sustainable future.
4.Engaging with the local community
We endeavor to support our community by fostering collective actions to solve water issues and enrich society.
Global Sustainability Committee
To promote sustainability management, the Global Sustainability Committee (GSC) acts as an advisory committee to the Board of Directors. The Group’s sustainability strategies and the progress on priority themes (water, climate change, containers and packaging, raw ingredients, health, human rights and enriching life) are discussed in the GSC under the lead of the Chief Sustainability Officer.
Targets and Progress
*1Owned plants that manufactures finished products and excludes plants for packaging and ingredients
*2Reduction of water intensity of production based on 2015 baseline year
*3Coffee, barley, grapes
Endorsing The CEO Water Mandate
The Suntory Group endorsed The CEO Water Mandate global platform, which is a United Nations Global Compact initiative to support the prevalence, practice and informational disclosure of water sustainability at companies.
Water Risk Assessment
The Suntory Groups has made achieving water security a vital issue in the Suntory Group's Environmental Principles and continues to conduct various water-related assessments at Suntory Institute for Water Science which was established in 2003. We conducted risk assessment of water sustainability at our direct operation sites* for sustainable business activities. We also consider water risk assessment when developing new businesses.
*Suntory Group plants that manufacture finished products: 23 plants in Japan, 54 plants overseas
First in Japan to earn The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Certification
In 2018, the Suntory Okudaisen Bunanomori Water Plant (Tottori Prefecture) received the AWS certification as the first Japanese facility. The Suntory Kyushu Kumamoto Plant (Kumamoto Prefecture) followed in 2019 and the Suntory Minami Alps Hakushu Water Plant (Yamanashi Prefecture) was also certified in 2021. In 2023, the Suntory Kyushu Kumamoto Plant has received “Platinum,” the highest rating within the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification. AWS is an organization founded by corporations and NGOs, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to promote water sustainability on a global scale. AWS has developed certification in sustainable water use for factories around the world, and promotes water conservation and stewardship. In addition, as Japan's sole corporate member of AWS, the Suntory Group has signed into a partnership with the same organization* in February 2021 to contribute its expertise and take a leadership role to promote water stewardship.
*Listed under the current name of the organization. The name at the time of conclusion was AWS Asia Pacific.
Initiatives at Production and Research Sites
Effective Use of Water Resources
The Suntory Group’s plants use a large amount of water, for example, in cleaning production equipment and cooling, in addition to using it as an ingredient in our products. In order to conserve limited water resources, we intensify our activities to achieve targets toward 2030 of “Reduce water consumption at the Suntory Group plants worldwide by 35%*” through enforcement of 3Rs for water, ensuring that the minimum amount of water is required (Reduce), water can be used repeatedly (Reuse), and water can be processed and used elsewhere (Recycle).
*Reduction water intensity based on the business fields in 2015
A variety of activities related to the 3Rs are being implemented at the Minami Alps Hakushu Water Plant of Suntory Products Ltd. In particular, through advanced "water cascade" recycling process, we are an industry leader in terms of water usage per production unit.
Water Cascade Recycling Process
Water used in the manufacturing process is classified into five grades based on quality, such as coolant water and cleaning water. This is a technology to reuse water in stages, from applications that require a higher grade to those that can be supplied at the next grade.
Effective Use of Rainwater
Japan is fortunate to have plentiful rainfall, and rainwater is one of our important resources. The Suntory Group accumulates rainwater in tanks for use in watering plants.
Strict Wastewater Management
The Suntory Group established voluntary standards for waste water that are equally or stricter than the legal regulations and manages quality so that we may release waste water in a state as close to nature as possible. Waste water from our plants is first purified using anaerobic waste water treatment facilities* and other equipment before it is released into sewers and rivers. Inspectors use measuring equipment to take daily readings of things like water quality under a constant monitoring regime.
*A treatment method that decomposes pollutants using microbes (anaerobic bacteria)
Initiatives at the Water Source
Suntory Natural Water Sanctuary (Water Source Conservation/ Preserving Biodiversity)
The Suntory Group started its Natural Water Sanctuary Initiative in 2003 to improve water resource cultivation and preserving biodiversity. The initiative has now expanded to approximately 12,000 hectares in 22 locations in 15 prefectures across Japan, and is recharging twice the volume of water it pumps from underground at its owned plants in Japan. With the Suntory Institute for Water Science playing a central role, we are collaborating with researchers from various fields to carry out ongoing activities based on science, looking ahead decades or even 100 years into the future.
*1When there are contracts and agreements with different durations, the longest duration is given.
*2Planned to conserve for a century.
*3Planned to conserve for several decades.
*4In Nagaokakyo, Kyoto, we are a member of the Nishiyama forestry development promotion committee and we are cooperating in local forest preservation activities with people in the community. The area of the forests subject to this activity is not counted as part of our total Natural Water Sanctuary area.
Working with Local Communities
We are implementing Suntory Mizuiku — Education Program for Nature and Water to pass down precious natural environment to the next generation.
Suntory Mizuiku — Education Program for Nature and Water
Suntory Mizuiku — Education Program* for Nature and Water started in 2004 in Japan. The program is unique to Suntory and designed for the next generation to realize the beauty of nature and the importance of water and the forests that nurture groundwater. It also inspires students to think about what each of them can do for water sustainability. The program centers on two activities: Outdoor School of Forest and Water and Teaching Program at Schools. It started online in 2020, allowing more people to participate.
Mizuiku is currently deployed in Japan and eight other nations. As of December 31, 2022, the cumulative number of participants exceeded 450,000.
*Sponsor: Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, etc.
Water Initiatives Worldwide
The Suntory Group practices coexistence with nature in all regions of the world where we do business. We will continue to engage in various initiatives in the future with an aspiration of becoming a global pioneer of water sustainability.
United States of America
We have worked to preserve the natural environment, such as water conservation activities around our distilleries and the improvement of biodiversity in forests, to protect the precious natural resource of water. The Maker's Mark Water Sanctuary Project that began in 2016 planted American white oak trees on 33 acres of Maker’s Mark distillery land (approx. 13 hectares) as a water resource cultivation effort. In 2018, new environmental conservation activities also began with the setup of a Natural Water Sanctuary on 15,625 acres of land (approx. 6,300 hectares) in the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, a water resource of the Jim Beam distillery.
In Mexico, Casa Sauza has been participating in a collaborative watershed initiative with other beverage manufacturing companies, to restore and protect the Santiago River Basin in the buffer zone of the natural protected area of Cerro Viejo through restoration against the loss of connectivity between forest and the lagoon due to the construction of a highway.
In Scotland, the Peatland Water Sanctuary, a large-scale series of peatland restoration and conservation and watershed conservation projects, was launched in 2021. We plan to invest more than $4 million in the restoration and conservation of 1,300 hectares of peatlands by 2030, enough to produce the amount of peat that Beam Suntory harvests every year in making its Scotch whiskies on an ongoing basis. Through this activity, we will contribute to water quality, water retention function enhancement, and biodiversity conservation. Peatlands also contribute to GHG emission control, thanks to their ability to store carbon.
In France, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe entered into a 20-year partnership for the conservation of water resources in 2017 with Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, a nature park located next to the Meyzieu Plant. This partnership conducts conservation activities in the forest spanning the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage and supports educational programs for children, in addition to protecting water resources and the natural environment near the plant as well as promoting cultivation activities with the local community.
In Spain, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe engaged in ecosystem conservation activities with the cooperation of the local community, in the hope of revitalizing the ecosystem in and around the Júcar river near its plant in Carcagente. In addition, together with local universities and specialist institutions, we are conducting a hydrological survey for water source conservation activities in the Tagus River basin, centering on the Guajaraz reservoir, which is the Toledo Plant's water source.
In Vietnam, Suntory Beverage & Food Asia has been contributing to repairs and installations of toilets and washrooms mainly at schools taking part in the Suntory Mizuiku since 2015 to improve the sanitary environment for children.
Since 2019, we have been engaged in water resource preservation activities in the northern province of Chiang Mai and the southern province of Nakhon Nayok. Such activities include slowing stream currents to prevent sediment-based erosion, installing small weirs to support permeation of underground water, and planting trees to prevent soil from flowing into streams.