Suntory Group Plastic Policy

Based on this Plastic Policy, Suntory will aim for fully sustainable plastic bottles in all the PET bottles used globally by 2030.

The Suntory Group has formulated the Plastic Policy to provide strong leadership for transforming our current society into a recycling-oriented and zero carbon society, aiming toward the realization of a sustainable society. Our group is promoting sustainability management globally with the aim of realizing our mission "To Create Harmony with People and Nature" as stated in our corporate philosophy. In the field of containers and packaging, we have developed the world's first F-to-P direct recycling technology (see news release No. 13428) which eliminates some PET bottle recycling processes and simultaneously reduces environmental impact and increases recycling efficiency.

In addition, actions such as introducing for the first time to the world a PET bottle cap* that uses 100% plant-derived raw materials and working toward developing a 100% plant-derived PET bottle are among efforts to develop PET bottles that have a low environmental impact and build a recycling system. Our medium-term goal is to use recycled PET materials for more than half of the total plastic bottle weight in our Japan-based soft drink business by 2025.
Based on this Plastic Policy, in addition to expanding our F-to-P production line, we aim 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.

  • *
    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

Suntory Group Plastic Policy

Expressing gratitude toward the Blessings of Nature that are the source of Suntory’s products, the Suntory Group will provide strong leadership for transforming into a recycling-oriented and zero carbon society to bring about a world where diverse animal and plant life shines and resonates. With its diversity in usage and convenience, plastic has made our lives easier.
The plastic containers and packaging we use serve a useful function, but to prevent them from having a negative impact on the global environment, we will promote problem-solving efforts together with various stakeholders. Each employee of Suntory will work on taking responsible action to solve problems and take the initiative in bringing about a sustainable society.

  1. Recycle & Renewable:
    1. Aim to switch all the PET bottles used globally for Suntory products to be made of recycled or plant-based material by 2030, achieving zero use of virgin petroleum-based materials.
    2. Actively work and collaborate with government agencies, industry, environmental non-governmental and non-profit organizations for the measures necessary to develop an efficient recycling system based on the situation of each country where we do business.
  2. Reduce & Replacement:
    Reduce the amount of plastic used by changing the design of containers and packaging and look for the introduction of alternative containers that do not negatively impact the environment in order to effectively utilize resources.
  3. Innovation:
    Actively invest in innovation for materials and processes that improve the recycling rate and minimize environmental impact.
  4. New Behavior:
    Promote activities that drive change in consumer behavior. Each Suntory employee will work to change their lifestyle, promote sorting and collection, and actively participate in social contribution activities such as cleaning up rivers and beaches.

Suntory Group's Activities for Reducing Environmental Impact

Suntory Group's Approach for Containers and Packaging

Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA)

The Suntory Group has been participating in CLOMA, a public-private alliance established in January 2019 at the request of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry since the alliance was established. Through this alliance, we aim to build an efficient recycling system that responds to country specific conditions by working closely with government agencies and the industry to develop and promote the use of plastic substitute materials and through information dissemination to overseas countries and technical consulting.

Global Plastic Action Partnership

In November 2019, Suntory Group joined the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), a global alliance co-founded by a coalition of public and private allies, harnesses the convening power of the World Economic Forum to bring together governments, businesses and civil society in the transition toward a circular economy for plasticsIts diverse network of members includes the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada, influential companies and investors, expert researchers and civil society organizations. In addition to fostering exchange, collaboration and scaling of solutions at the global and regional levels, GPAP is initiating pilot partnerships with the governments of Indonesia, Ghana and Vietnam to address projects at the national level.

WWF Japan's "Plastic Circular Challenge 2025"

In February 2022, Suntory Group participated in WWF Japan’s (World Wide Fund for Nature Japan) “Plastic Circular Challenge 2025”. Under this Japanese domestic framework led by WWF Japan, participating companies will aim to solve various issues related to plastics by committing to a milestone set for 2025 regarding containers and packaging/single-use plastic and enhancing their activities under a “sustainable circular economy” approach.

3Rs in Containers and Packaging

We consider 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.

3Rs of Containers and Packaging

The Suntory Group works to develop containers and packaging that give consideration to the environment, based on the 3Rs of "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle". We work on reducing the weight, using materials with less environmental impact, and designing packaging that is easy to recycle, while taking into consideration usability from the time customers drink the product to the time it is recycled. We also work in collaboration with various recycling organizations and local governments to promote recycling.

3Rs of Containers and Packaging

Diagram of Policy on 3Rs of Containers and Packaging

Plastic Bottles

As a measure to minimize environmental impact, we design and develop our products by minimizing the amount of resources used and actively introducing renewable resources, while taking into consideration ease of use for our customers.

2R+B strategy

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 replace petroleum-derived raw materials with renewable raw materials to the extent possible, while reducing the amount of resin used and using recycled materials in development to achieve thorough and effective use of resources.

Diagram of 2R+B strategy

Reduce : Lightweighting

Environmentally-friendly Green Eco Bottle*1

The 550mL Suntory Tennensui natural mineral water is packaged in the most lightweight PET bottle in Japan*2 (11.9g).
The bottle design was developed using Suntory’s own technology, and it allows us to reduce the use of petroleum-derived ingredients by approximately 40% per bottle. By bringing the weight to 29.8g, we were the first in Japan to achieve the weight of less than 30g for 2L bottles.

  • *1
    An 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.
  • *2
    Plastic bottles for mineral water (500mL to 600mL) in Japan. As of November 2020
Photo of Green eco bottle

Green eco bottle

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 16㎛ (micrometer*2) in 2012. An even thinner label at 12㎛ 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 by 25%*3 compared to conventional labels.

  • *1
    Labels that peel off from the glued area instead of peeling off at the perforations
  • *2
  • *3
    Reduction rate in the film (label) manufacturing process
Photo of role label

12㎛ thick role label, thinnest in Japan

Adoption of 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*2 that use 30% bio-based PET materials for Suntory Minami-Alps Tennensui mineral water. This innovation reduces the use of petroleum-derived raw materials by 35%*3 and decreases CO2 emissions by 27% compared to conventional PET bottle caps.
In addition, we have further evolved our environmental efforts by using bio-based materials and in March 2019, we began introducing polyethylene caps with 100% plant-derived ethylene for 550ml Suntory Aso Tennensui mineral water which is manufactured 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
    Polyethylene caps with 100% plant-derived ethylene as the main raw material. Excluding trace amounts of petroleum-derived components and colorant components at the time of production line changeover.
  • *2
    As of April 2020
  • *3
    One bottle of Suntory Tennensui Mineral Water (550mL)
  • *4
    One bottle cap of Suntory Tennensui Mineral Water (550mL)
Evaluation from Society

Suntory Beverage & Food received the 2016 Minister of the Environment Award for Promoters of the Development of a Recycling-Oriented Society in recognition of its environmental impact reduction activities, including the world's first introduction of beverage PET bottle caps made from 30% bio-based materials.

Primary lightweight plastic bottle products
Diagram of Primary lightweight plastic bottle products
In-house Blow Molding PET Bottles

The Suntory Group is promoting in-house molding to produce PET preforms from PET resin and blow then into PET bottles. This enables integrated design and management from bottle molding to filling, reducing the amount of resin used and also making it easier to reduce the weight of the bottle.
In addition, fuel and CO2 emissions during transportation are reduced compared to when purchasing finished PET bottles. Furthermore, by recovering and reusing the high-pressure air used in PET bottle molding, we use energy efficiently and reduce CO2 emissions.

  • Photo of PET resin

    PET resin
    CO2 emissions can be reduced 50% or more.

  • Illustration of Preform made from resin

    Preform made from resin

  • Illustration of Shaped PET bottle

    Shaped PET bottle

Development of World's Lightest* Heat-resistant Plastic Bottles Leveraging the Use of Japanese Technological Capabilities

The Japanese manufacturing technology and design capabilities 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 Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage in Vietnam that is the lightest in the world (18g). 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 Group and Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage.

Photo of Lightest heat-resistant bottle

Lightest heat-resistant bottle in South East Asia

As an initiative to further reduce the weight of PET bottles, we utilized a technology to prevent bottles from deforming by injecting nitrogen and pressurizing the bottle. In 2020, we successfully developed world's lightest 15g PET bottle in the heat‐resistant filling container category that also pursued functionality, versatility and design and introduced it to Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage and Suntory Garuda Beverage in Indonesia. We plan to introduce it to Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage in Vietnam in the future.

Photo of Lightest (15g) nitrogen instilled heat-resistant bottle

Lightest (15g) nitrogen instilled heat-resistant bottle in the world

  • *
    In the 500 ml class of heat-resistant PET bottles (as of April 2020, according to our research)

Recycle: Recycling Plastic Bottles

PET Resin Horizontal Recycling through PET Bottle Recycle in Japan

In 2011, Suntory Beverage & Food 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 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.

Diagram of mechanical recycling

The recycled PET bottles produced by mechanical recycling will take on a color during the process but they have no quality issues and safety issues. The mechanical recycling system have highest cost efficiency and lowest environmental impact*3 (CO2 emissions from raw material procurement to preform manufacturing) among PET bottle recycling systems adopted in Japan as of 2022.

  • *1
    B-to-B : "Bottle to bottle," signifying the creation of a new PET bottle from a recycled one.
  • *2
    Mechanical recycling: A method in which recycled resin obtained by material recycling (used products are processed by crushing, washing, and made into raw materials for products again) is further processed under high temperature and reduced pressure for a certain period of time to remove impurities in the recycled material and make PET resin of suitable quality for beverage containers.
  • *3
    Based on our research

Adoption of F-to-P direct recycling technology

In 2017, as part of our recycling efforts, we collaborated with Kyoei Sangyo Co., Ltd. and overseas machinery manufacturers (EREMA in Austria and SIPA in Italy) to develop F-to-P direct recycling technology which is expected to further reduce environmental impact. We began production in the fall of 2018. F-to-P direct recycling technology is a technology that can directly manufacture preforms after melting and filtering flakes made from collected PET bottles that have been crushed and washed at high temperatures. The F-to-P direct recycling technology can reduce CO2emissions by 70%* compared to virgin PET bottles. ( Current mechanical recycle can reduce CO2 emissions by 60%.* )

  • Photo of F-to-P direct recycling equipment

    F-to-P direct recycling equipment

  • Photo of Products that use F-to-P direct recycling technology

    Products that use F-to-P direct recycling technology

* Processes from used PET bottles to the preform production.

Active Implementation of Recycled PET Bottles within the Group

To achieve the 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe aims to achieve 50% recycled contents in its PET bottles by 2025 or sooner.
Suntory Beverage & Food Europe brand Ribena was the first soft drinks brand in the UK to use a 100% PET bottle made from recycled plastic in 2007.The company has been increasing its use of recycled plastic - in 2021 this included the introduction of 100% recycled PET in May Tea and Pulco in France. In 2022, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe has started 100% recycled PET bottles in its Lucozade Sport brand in the UK and Ireland.
Suntory Beverage & Food Asia Pacific, with its main operations in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, is also strengthening its efforts on recycling and has introduced the company's first 100% recycled PET bottles in Vietnam in 2022.

Photo of Ribena
Development of The World's First PET Bottle Chemically Recycled with Enzyme Technology

Suntory Beverage & Food Europe is investing in a French green biotech company Carbios' enzymatic PET recycling technology through a consortium with L'Oréal, Nestlé Waters and PepsiCo. Carbios' optimized enzyme breaks down any kind of PET plastic (regardless of color or complexity) into its building blocks, which can then be turned back into like-new, virgin-quality plastic. In June 2021, Carbios produced the world's first food-grade PET plastic bottle prototypes made entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic which was showcased in the company's Orangina brand. In September 2021, Carbios successfully launched a demonstration plant and aims to build an industrial facility by 2025.

Product Labels Made with Recycled PET Bottles

Suntory Beverage & Food 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 and the percentage of recycle PET bottles used has been increased from 60% to 80% in March 2012.

* Labels that peel off from the glued area instead of peeling off at the perforations

Photo of Roll label

Roll label made with recycled PET bottles

Bio : Active Use of Plant-based 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 Suntory Tennensui mineral water 550ml in 2013.
Suntory Holdings 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. In the future, we are planning to introduce PET bottles made from 100% plant-based materials for Suntory Tennensui mineral water brand of Suntory Beverage & Foods Ltd. In the development process, we aim to produce "paraxylene," a precursor of terephthalic acid which constitutes 70% of PET bottle materials, exclusively from inedible plant-based materials (woodchips) so as not to affect the supply chain of materials for food use.

Photo of Development and testing plant

Development and testing plant

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 introduced FSC-certified cardboard packaging to Suntory Tennensui mineral water for products manufactured from August 2017. Since the end of February 2018, 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 Beverage & Food products and as packaging for six packs.

Photo of FSC-certified cardboard packaging
  • *1
    Forest 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. 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 with Industry and Local Governments for Packaging Recycling

Establishment of R Plus Japan to Work on the Recycling of Used Plastics

Suntory Group consists of 12 companies that make up the value chain. To realize a sustainable society and contribute in solving plastic issues, it has jointly established R Plus Japan, a company engaging in resource recycling of used plastics, which started operation from June 2020.
It is said that may of the plastics that are not PET bottles are being currently incinerated in Japan. This technology enables plastics including PET bottles to be chemically recycled by directly returning such plastics to benzene, toluene, xylene, ethylene, propylene and other materials. It requires less treatment process compared to other chemical recycling that require liquefaction and is hoped to reduce CO2 emissions and energy use. If this technology is established, we believe more used plastic can be recycled efficiently.
R Plus Japan will cooperate with Anellotech to develop technology for recycling used plastics that is efficient and has lower environmental impact. We will strive to achieve practical use of technology to contribute to solving the global issue of plastics through cross-industry cooperation with companies engaging in separation of collected plastics, monomer manufacturing, polymer manufacturing, package and container manufacturing as well as trading companies and beverage manufacturers.

Diagram of Characteristics of the New Technology

Conventional technology and new technology

Promoting Horizontal Recycling with Local Governments

Suntory Beverage & Food has signed an agreement on bottle-to-bottle recycling operation to recycle used PET bottles to new PET bottles jointly with the residents, local government and businesses with two cities and two towns (Takasago City, Kakogawa City and Inami and Harima in Kako District in Hyogo Prefecture) of Higashiharima in 2021, with the aim of creating a recycling-oriented society.
With this agreement, the two cities and two towns of Higashiharima and Suntory will collect and recycle used PET bottles separated by the residents as new PET bottles at a plant in the region to deliver and return them to the Higashiharima area.
Cooperation of multiple local governments and a company in bottle-to-bottle recycling as well as manufacturing, delivering and returning the recycled PET bottles all with in the region under the scheme are both first attempts in Japan. This agreement will promote bottle-to-bottle direct recycling and further strengthen environmental protection activities aimed to realize a recycling-oriented society.

Efforts to Prevent Scattering of Empty Containers

To beautify the environment and promote effective use of resources, we are engaged in activities to prevent the scattering of empty containers. 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.

Diagram of Litter Control for Empty Containers

Marine Pollution Problem of Plastic Bottles

The problem of marine pollution caused by plastic containers, including plastic bottles, is becoming increasingly serious and is discussed as a global environmental issue. As a beverage company that handles many containers, we are committed to proactively addressing this issue and working with the government, local communities, and industry to resolve it. 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 part of employee volunteer activities, employees in Japan participate in beach cleanup activity organized by a non-profit organization, while overseas, Beam Suntory employees participate in cleanup activities along the Chicago River basin, in an effort to raise awareness so that each and every employee will see this issue as his or her own and take action.
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.

Accelerating Use of PET bottles Using 100% Sustainable Materials

In order to achieve Suntory Group’s ambition to use 100% sustainable PET bottles globally by 2030 by using only recycled or plant-based materials and achieving zero use of virgin petroleum-based materials, Suntory Beverage & Food will aim to make one in two PET bottles used in Japan to be made from 100% sustainable*1 materials in 2022. We have been introducing a new logo "Bottles are resources! Towards a Sustainable Bottle" on all of its PET bottles in Japan to communicate to consumers that PET bottles are resources that can be recycled many times, and strengthen its communication to consumers. Suntory Beverage & Food Europe brand Ribena was the first soft drinks brand in the UK to use a 100% PET bottle made from recycled plastic. The company has been increasing its use of recycled plastic - in 2021 this included the introduction of 100% recycled PET in May Tea and Pulco in France. In 2022, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe has started 100% recycled PET bottles in its Lucozade Sport brand in the UK and Ireland.
Suntory Beverage & Food Asia Pacific, with its main operations in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, is also strengthening its efforts on recycling and has introduced the company's first 100% recycled PET bottles in Vietnam in 2022. We will continue to accelerate our efforts throughout the Suntory Group.

  • *1
    100% recycled or plant-based materials
Photos of products using sustainable bottle and the logo of Bottles are resources!