Sustainable recycling of containers and packagingReduce
Lighter PET bottles
The Institute for Packaging Innovation is continuously developing technologies to reduce the weight of PET bottles.
We reduced the weight of the 2L PET bottle for Kirin Alkali Ion Water from 63 grams prior to June 2003 to just 28.9 grams in 2015, and achieved a further reduction to 28.3 grams in 2019, making it the lightest such PET bottle produced in Japan. Simply making the bottle walls thinner would make it difficult to maintain the strength of the bottle, so we developed a design that achieved both appropriate strength and ease of holding. We also incorporated innovations that made it easy even for a small child to crush the bottle after the contents have been drunk.
In April 2019, we moved forward with further weight reductions by improving the bottle’s screw top, including making the screw threads narrower and the screw portion shorter. These efforts will result in annual reductions of PET resin use of approximately 107 tonnes and CO2 emissions of approximately 375 tonnes.
For some large-size PET bottle products such as Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha and Kirin Nama-cha in 2L and 1.5L sizes, we have reduced the weight by approximately 16%, from 38.2 grams to 32.2 grams, by improving the preform mold used for PET bottles. We began introducing these bottles sequentially starting with products in December 2020.
The Institute for Packaging Innovation developed the newly introduced 32.2 gram PET bottle by applying technology from Japan’s lightest 2L bottle, the Alkali Ion Water 2L PET bottle. As a result, we were able to reduce the amount of PET resin used by approximately 439 tons per year, and CO2 emissions by approximately 1,515 tons per year.
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). By making the labels thinner and smaller, we have been able to reduce resin use by approximately 180 tons per year and CO2 emissions by approximately 400 tons per year.
Since mid-March 2021, we have been selling Kirin Nama-cha Label-free 6-Pack and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha Label-free 6-Pack at general merchandise stores nationwide, as well as Kirin Nama-cha Label-free (carton of 24 525 ml bottles or 9 2L bottles) and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha Label-free (carton of 24 525 ml bottles) exclusively online. We believe that 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 CO2 emissions during production.
We also use FSC-certified paper for the 6-bottle packs that we sell in general merchandise stores, and display a certification label.
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.
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.
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
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.
Transitioning weight of the 350 ml aluminum cans
Japan’s lightest returnable glass bottles
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, 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, achieving Japan’s lightest returnable glass beer bottles in all sizes, large, medium, and small.