Sustainable use of water resources
Sustainable use of water resources
Water is not only an essential raw material for the Kirin Group, but is also an indispensable resource for cleaning our production facilities, etc.
Since 2014, we have been quantitatively assessing water risk and stress using surveys, and have taken measures to conserve water tailored to water stress at each business site. We are also conducting a scenario analysis based on the TCFD recommendations to study and identify water risks in areas producing agricultural raw materials, and testing countermeasures in areas where we can implement such measures.
Kirin Group is the first company in the Japanese pharmaceutical and food industries to participate in the Corporate Engagement Program organized by the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN).
Looking ahead, we plan not simply to conserve water, but also to identify our impact on the natural capital of basins as a whole and set targets to enable us to reduce our impact.
- Water usage intensity at manufacturing sites in high water-stressed areas (Lion)
By 2025: Less than 2.4kl/kl(CSV Commitments)*1
By 2025: 2.4kl/kl or under(Non-financial target)*2
By 2024: 3.0kl/kl or under(Non-financial target)*2
- Tooheys Brewery,Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, James Boag Brewery, Pride
- Tooheys Brewery,Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, James Boag Brewery
Water Risk Assessment
*All of the above information is as of the end of June 2022.
Conservation activities for water sources on tea farms
It was evident that climate change will cause water stress and flood risks to increase in areas producing agricultural raw materials in the future. Therefore, the Kirin Group decided to start addressing this issue with Sri Lanka, where we have been providing assistance for obtaining sustainable tea farm certification, and where we have developed strong partnerships with local tea farms and NGOs. As such, we are working to accumulate knowledge in this area.
In our yearly efforts to engage with local farms managers, we learned that although the Sri Lankan government went as far as mapping micro watersheds in order to support understanding of their importance and make them easier to conserve and manage, these efforts were held up owing to a lack of funds. Therefore, in order to further enhance the sustainability of tea farms whose acquisition of certification we supported and the surrounding areas, we began activities to conserve water sources at farms in 2018.
These activities involve fencing off micro watersheds of the farms so that they are not used for other purposes, and planting unique regional native species around them. This provides a diversity of vegetation at tea farms, which have a single crop, and prevents soil from flowing down the mountain slope into water sources as a result of torrential rain, etc.
The Kirin Group is conducting an education program to teach residents living near target water sources about such matters as the importance of water and the functions of micro watersheds. At some farms, we are also working to incorporate our educational programs as part of the curriculums of day care centers and elementary schools attended by the children of tea pickers, etc.
Water source forest conservation activities
Our Water Source Forestation Activities, which are an activity to protect the water sources of our breweries and plants, began in the forest of the Tanzawa district of Kanagawa Prefecture, which is the water source for Kirin Brewery’s Yokohama Plant in 1999. We have since adopted this initiative, which was a pioneering initiative in the industry, in 11 locations across Japan. Under medium and long-term agreements with the local governments and other relevant parties that manage the water source forests, the program includes tree planting, undergrowth cutting, pruning, and thinning. Today, many of the forests are bright, luxuriant forests. In some locations, some of our customers have volunteered to take part in the activities.
Grassland conservation activities to recharge groundwater
In the “Aso Area Grassland Regeneration Project Aimed at 'World Cultural Heritage' Status," we are providing “support for the resumption of open burning” to preserve the grassland landscape of Aso.
Preserving the vast grasslands of Aso, which recharge large amounts of groundwater, will help protect the water that we use as a raw material at the Mercian Yatsushiro Plant. In 2021, six people from the Yatsushiro Plant participated in this activity. The maintenance of grasslands is also important for the survival of rare plants adapted to grasslands.
In plants, much of our water usage is for washing and sterilizing processes for equipment and pipes. In addition to establishing frameworks and mechanisms to confirm and assure the washing, from a quality perspective, we also strictly control water flow rate and velocity to ensure that we do not waste water. We also actively pursue the re-use of water, depending on the purpose.
For example, the rinsing water that we use in the final step of the pipe and equipment washing process is still relatively clear, so we can use it again for the initial process of pipe washing. In this way, we have implemented a cascading system of water use in which we repeatedly use water that we have previously used in washing, according to the quality of the water. In actuality, considerable knowledge on how to use equipments is necessary to guarantee that we are properly washing the equipment and pipes, such as achieving the right balance of the amount of water we can recover and the amount of water we can use, as well as the timing of recovery and use.
The Kirin Group is achieving a high level of water conservation by sharing and accumulating various different types of expertise.
In 2009, Lion partnered with the government of Queensland, Australia, to install a reverse osmosis (RO) plant at the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, to recover wastewater and minimize our reliance on mains-fed town water from the area where the brewery is located. Lion has introduced a water recycling plant with the aim of reducing the amount of water used for brewing by half. We use water treated with reverse osmosis membranes in non-product related processes, such as cleaning, cooling, and pasteurizing. In 2021, Castlemaine Perkins Brewery achieved a unit water consumption rate of 2.8kl/kl, which approaches world class levels.
Lion is sharing this technology within the Kirin Group, and we are now using it at Kirin Brewery’s Kobe Plant.
Lion, which faces a high level of water stress, set a target during 2021 of increasing water efficiency to 2.4kl/kl by 2025 at breweries producing large quantities of beer. At Tooheys Brewery, which uses the most water, we are considering various options for water recycling and reuse, and plan to develop an effective approach during 2022.
In the Kirin Group, we purify the water that we have finished using to voluntary standards that are stricter than those required by law, before we release it into rivers and sewers.
Breweries and plants in basin areas with strict wastewater standards remove phosphorus and solids by anaerobic and aerobic treatment followed by pressure flotation. We reuse excess sludge discharged from aerobic and pressure flotation treatment as fertilizer and soil conditioner. The Kirin Group discharges clean water into the ocean, rivers, and sewers in consideration of the aquatic ecosystem.
In our breweries, we have introduced anaerobic treatment facilities to purify the wastewater generated by the production process. Unlike conventional aerobic treatment, anaerobic treatment does not require electricity for aeration. Also, the anaerobic microorganisms generate biogas as a by-product of the treatment process. This biogas, the main component of which is methane, can be utilized in biogas boilers and cogeneration systems. Derived from plant-based raw materials such as malt, biogas is a renewable energy and a CO2-free fuel.
At the various production plants of the Kirin Group, we are conducting a range of environmental protection activities, particularly riverside clean-up activities in cooperation with local governments and NGOs.
At our breweries and plants, including those of Kirin Brewery, Kirin Beverage, Mercian, Kyowa Kirin, and KOIWAI DAIRY PRODUCTS, we are engaged in local environmental beautification and environmental protection activities, focusing on the rivers they draw water from and other nearby rivers.At the Kyowa Hakko Bio Yamaguchi Production Center, employees performed clean-up activities in the waters off Hyakken, a port facility where chemicals and glucose solutions are unloaded.
*The above information is reprinted from the Kirin Group Environmental Report 2022 and is current as of June 30, 2022.