Sustainable recycling of containers and packagingReduce

Corner-cut cartons

Our“corner-cut cartons” were developed by Institute for Packaging Innovation and introduced in 2004. The beveled corners have reduced the weight of the carton and, because the carton has eight sides, making it stronger, the cardboard thickness has been reduced, resulting in a 10.9% reduction in the weight of the carton compared to conventional cartons.

  • Figure: Corner-cut cartons

Smart-cut cartons

The smart-cut carton, which we introduced in 2015, is based on the corner-cut carton technology. In addition to the reduction in weight, the corners of the long edges at the top of the carton have been cut to fit the space created by the lids of the 204-diameter can, which are smaller than the rest of the can. This has resulted in a 16% weight reduction compared to the corner-cut carton.
Institute for Packaging Innovation developed the smart-cut carton in conjunction with a container and packaging manufacturer, with whom the Laboratories have obtained a joint design registration.

  • Figure: Smart-cut cartons

6-can pack

Innovations have been incorporated into various parts of the 6-can pack to make it more lightweight, as well as achieving ease of carrying and removing from the shelf. For example, a new cut-out section has been included at the sides of the pack to match the can edge (Kirin patent), and a “can bottom lock structure” is used to stabilize the bottoms of the can with paper. These innovations have resulted in a reduction in packaging material of 4 grams, or 8%, per 500-ml 6-can pack, while also improving the pack’s can-holding power

  • Figure: Layered for comparison

Reducing the weight of paper containers for wine

Since March 2022, Mercian has also reduced the weight of containers for wine that it sells. Mercian uses bag-in-box packaging with an inner bag inside an outer box for a total of five types of wine, namely FRANZIA (red, white, dark red) bag-in-box and FRONTERA (Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay) wine-fresh servers. By reducing the weight of the outer box by approximately 25%, from 190g to 143g, we are able to reduce our use of paper resources by around 31t per year.

  • Lightweight bag-in-box packaging

Lighter Cans

At Kirin Brewery, by reducing the diameter of the can ends and narrowing the top and bottom edges of the can body to reduce the weight of the can, as well as thinning out the walls of the can body, for our 350-ml aluminum cans, the current 204-diameter can end has achieved a weight reduction of approximately 29% compared to the old 209-diameter can end. This means an annual saving in aluminum resources* of approximately 19,000 tonnes. (*Kirin data from 2015 production volumes)
Further, working with can manufacturers, we developed an aluminum can with thinner can ends and bodies in 2016. The overall weight of the can has been reduced by approximately 5% (0.8 grams) from 14.6 grams to 13.8 grams. This represents a weight reduction of 33% (6.7 grams) from the 209-diameter can end.
In steel cans for beverages, the weight of the diamond-cut 190-gram steel can used for FIRE Hikitate Bito (low-sugar) coffee was reduced by 17% compared to the 2008 level in 2011.

  • Figure: Transitioning weight of the 350ml aluminum cans

Lighter returnable glass bottles

The lightest weight returnable bottle produced in Japan in all sizes (large, medium, and small). As well as being light in weight, returnable glass bottles need to be durable enough to maintain their returnable functionality and strong enough to ensure consumer safety and peace of mind.
To meet this challenge, the Institute for Packaging Innovation made excellent use of innovations such as a ceramic coating that forms a thin film on the bottle’s outside surface, an impact-resistant shape design, and a bottle mouth design that meets the conflicting requirements of being easy to open and able to be sealed tightly and that is also strong enough not to chip.

  • Large bottle -21% 605g→475g .130g reduction Medium bottle -19% 470g→380g 90g reduction Small bottle -10% 390g→350g 39g reduction

  • CO2 reduction effect of lighter medium-size bottles, about 930t reduction, * Calculated on assumption of 10 million bottles a year, Previous Lightest in Japan, 1.5 mm less than previous bottles, We applied a ceramics coating technology , Previous, Lightest in」apan

No label

Since March 2021, we have been selling Kirin Nama-cha No Label 6-Pack and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha No Label 6-Pack at general merchandise stores nationwide, as well as Kirin Nama-cha No Label and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha No Label exclusively online. In May 2022, we expanded our range of no label products with the launch of Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Oishii Muto (sugar-free) No Label and Kirin FIRE ONE DAY Black No Label exclusively online. Eliminating labels makes sorting waste easier for customers and thereby promotes recycling. It also reduces the use of resin derived from petroleum and thus reduces GHG emissions during production.
In June 2022, we will begin test sales of Kirin Nama-cha No Label with Paper Sticker at some general merchandise stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area. By attaching small paper stickers that provide the required information, we are able to sell individual products at the store without conventional labels.

  • No label product No label with paper sticker

Lightest PET bottles for water produced in Japan

The Institute for Packaging Innovation has developed and put into practical use the lightest 2L PET bottle for water produced in Japan, at 28.3g.
We reduced the weight of the 2L PET bottle for Kirin Alkali Ion Water from 63g prior to June 2003 to 28.9g in 2015, and further reduced the weight in April 2019 by improving the bottle’s screw top, including making the screw threads narrower and the screw portion shorter, thereby making achieving the lightest such PET bottle produced in Japan and putting it into practical use. These efforts will result in annual reductions of PET resin use of approximately 107 tonnes and GHG emissions of approximately 375 tonnes.
For some 2L and 1.5L large PET bottle products, such as Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha and Kirin Nama-cha, we reduced the weight by approximately 16%, from 38.2g to 32.2g, by improving the molds of preforms used to make the PET bottles. We have been gradually introducing these bottles starting from products manufactured in December 2020. These efforts will result in annual reductions of PET resin use of approximately 439 tonnes and GHG emissions of approximately 1,515 tonnes.

  • Figure: Lightest PET bottles for water produced in Japan

* Kirin Alkali Ion Water was discontinued in September 2022. Using the same lightweight container, Kirin Natural Water Polished by Nature was sold in September 2022.

PET bottles for wine

In 2022, the Institute for Packaging Innovation developed a 720ml PET bottle for wine that is the lightest in Mercian’s history. We reduced the weight by 5g, from 34g to 29g. We expect the use of this bottle for all 720ml PET bottle products produced and sold by Mercian to reduce PET resin use by approximately 83 tonnes per year and GHG emissions by approximately 286 tonnes.
The lightweight PET bottle received the “46th Kinoshita Award for Packaging Technology.” This bottle won the award partly because we reduced resin use by approximately 15% while maintaining the “Bordeaux shoulder shape” and a “clean body shape,” as well as the fact that the Kirin Group's gas barrier coating technology, which uses DLC* film, can keep wine fresh for a long period of time.

  • Figure: Reduced  weight by 5g

* An abbreviation for Diamond-Like Carbon (* Patent No. 4050648, etc.). A technology in which a thin film of carbon is formed inside a PET bottle, which suppresses the permeation of oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, etc.

Use of roll labels for vending machine products

Since September 2020, Kirin Beverage has used “roll labels” on some PET bottle products for sale in vending machines.
There are two main types of label for PET bottled soft drinks: shrink labels and roll labels. We place shrink labels over bottles with a labeler in the filling plant, then apply heat to shrink the label. This means a certain thickness is required to prevent the label from bending. We do not use heat to shrink roll labels, instead attaching them by wrapping them around the PET bottle, which enables us to make the label thinner. Customers can easily remove the label by simply pulling the edge of the label, making it easier to sort trash, and thereby promoting recycling.
We are introducing roll labels for certain products exclusive to vending machines, such as Kirin Nama-cha and Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Oishii Muto (sugar-free).

Shortening of labels and packaging materials

We have shortened the label on packaging for the 600ml Kirin Nama-cha and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha that we released in 2022. In addition to reducing the size of the label and making it thinner by switching to roll labels, this will result in annual reductions of resin use by approximately 180 tonnes and GHG emissions of approximately 400 tonnes.
We have made the paper packaging materials for the 525ml and 600ml products in the six-bottle packs of no label products shorter than those of the products we launched in 2021, thereby reducing paper consumption. We also use FSC-certified paper for packaging materials, and display a label of our certification.

  • Shortening of labels

  • Shortening of paper packaging materials for six-bottle packs

Reduction of glass bottles with prefilled syringe preparations

Kyowa Kirin sells plastic prefilled syringe preparations, which eliminate the need for the glass bottles containing the injection solution that are normally required, thus reducing glass usage.
With prefilled syringe preparations, the solution is already in the syringe, meaning there is no need to draw the solution from the glass bottle into the syringe. Therefore, in addition to excellent qualities such as convenience, safety, and sterility, we are able to reduce the use of glass resources and the amount of medical waste.

*The above information is reprinted from the Kirin Group Environmental Report 2022 and is current as of June 30, 2022.