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 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 newly established 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

Participation in the 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.

Awareness Raising Activities for Plastic

Suntory Group uses PET bottles extensively in its business activities. As such, we have been raising awareness towards recycling, together with our various stakeholders, to realize a sustainable society. In Japan, considering the next-generation, we entered into a partnership with the Waseda University on realizing recycling-oriented society in 2021. We not only promote separation of waste for recycling across Group companies, departments, or individual employees, but also raise awareness towards ocean plastics through employee volunteer activities. Such social contribution activities include the Beach Cleanup Activity sponsored by a non-profit organization in Japan and cleanup activities in the Chicago River basin overseas which Beam Suntory employees participate.

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 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

Diagram of 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.

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 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.

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 25%*3 compared to conventional labels.

  • *1
    These labels are not removed through the use of perforations; instead, the glued portion is peeled off.
  • *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. 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 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
    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
  • *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 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
Diagram of Primary lightweight plastic bottle products
Initiatives in In-house Blow Molding PET Bottles

In Minami Alps Hakushu Water Plant of Suntory Products, 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.

  • 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 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 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

  • *
    For 500mL class heat-resistance PET bottles (at the time of introduction in April 2020 based on Company research)

Recycle: Recycling Plastic Bottles

Recycle PET Bottles for Horizontal Recycling of PET Resin 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 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.

Diagram of mechanical recycling
  • *1
    B-to-B : "Bottle to bottle," signifying the creation of a new PET bottle from a recycled one.
  • *2
    Mechanical 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.
  • *3
    Compared 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. 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 spent PET bottles to the preform production.
Active Implementation of Recycled PET Bottles Overseas

We are partially implementing recycled PET bottles using recycled PET resins in products handled by Suntory Beverage & Food Europe in France such as MayTea, Oasis and Pulco. All Ribena products in UK have already been using recycled PET bottle using 100% recycled PET resin for over ten years. We plan to achieve a mid-term goal of shifting 50% of the materials used for beverage containers to recycled plastic by 2025 in Europe.

Ribena also implemented roll label technology used in Japan to significantly reduce the area covered by a label to 50% or less of the product so their packaging are more recyclable in January 2021.

Photo of Ribena
Introducing and Promoting 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 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.
Photo of Roll label

Roll label made with recycled PET bottles

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 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 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.

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 (Mineral Water) Suntory Tennensui for products manufacture 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 for Container Recycling with the Industry and Local Governments

Establishment of A New Company 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.
The newly established 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 this 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 treading companies and beverage manufacturers.

Diagram of Characteristics of the New Technology

Characteristics of the New Technology

Promoting Direct Recycling with Local Governments

Suntory Beverage & Food has signed an agreement on bottle-to-bottle recycling business 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.

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.

Diagram of Litter Control for Empty Containers

Issue of oceanic pollution from plastic bottles

The issue of oceanic pollution due to plastic bottles and other plastic containers, which is being debated as an environmental issue around the world, is one of the most important environmental challenges we as a society are facing. 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.

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% recycled materials by volume. We will gradually introduce 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. We will continue to accelerate our efforts throughout the Suntory Group.

Photos of products using sustainable bottle and the logo of Bottles are resources!