3.4 Actions regarding containers and packagingSustainable PET bottles
Expansion of the use of “R100 PET bottles”made from 100% recycled PET resin
In accordance with the Plastic Policy that we established in 2019, the Kirin Group has gradually expanded the use of “R100 PET bottles” made from 100% recycled PET resin. In June 2019, we switched to “R100 PET bottles” for 430 ml bottles of Kirin Nama-cha Decaf, and in March 2021, we also switched to “R100 PET bottles” for 600 ml bottles of both Kirin Nama-cha and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha sold in convenience stores throughout Japan. We use an R100 label on these packages that indicates the bottle is made from 100% recycled PET materials.
The convenience of plastic has made it a popular material for many different products, including containers and packaging. With such a vast range of types and applications of plastics, collection and recycling rates vary depending on the type of plastic used, and it cannot be said that all plastics are being efficiently circulated. Mismanaged plastic waste discarded into the environment is finding its way into the oceans, causing marine pollution and global concern about the potential adverse effects on ecosystems.
Kirin Holdings developed the Kirin Group Plastic Policy in February 2019 with the intention of finding a solution to this issue. In the Policy, to further promote the resource circulation of PET bottles, we declared a target of increasing the percentage of recycled resin in PET bottles for the Japan market to 50% by 2027. We also declared that we would consider the introduction of PET resin made derived from inedible plant material, with the aim of moving away from petroleum resources.
In the Kirin Group Environmental Vision 2050 that we announced in February 2020, we declared our goal of creating a “society that sustainably recycles containers and packaging” by 2050. To that end, we are also working to move to 100% sustainable containers and packaging that use recycled materials, biomass, etc.
Sustainable use of PET bottles
Kirin Beverage is promoting “mechanical recycling,” which uses recycled PET resin as raw materials for PET bottles. This method involves washing the bottles before processing them at high temperatures in a condition close to a vacuum state. This volatilizes and removes the impurities stuck inside the plastic, restoring the molecular weight, which is decreased in the recycling process, to a level suited to bottle formation.
Kirin Beverages began using “R100 PET bottles” made from 100% recycled PET resin for some of the packaging of its Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Oishii Muto (sugarfree) product in February 2014, followed by all Kirin Namacha Decaf packaging in 2019, and Kirin Nama-cha and Kirin Nama-cha Hoji Sencha (600 ml sizes of each) sold only at convenience stores in 2021. This bottle uses 90% less resin derived from petroleum and achieves a reduction in CO2 emissions of 50-60% compared with regular petroleumderived PET materials.
The R100 bottle used for Kirin Nama-cha Decaf won the President of Japan Packaging Institute Award at the Japan Packaging Contest 2019, and the WorldStar Award in the beverages category at the 2020 WorldStar Packaging Awards Competition.
Aiming for a society where plastics are continuously recycled
In December 2020, Kirin started a joint project with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation to analyze and commercialize technology for chemical recycling of PET bottles.
Some of the used PET bottles collected for recycling are contaminated. In the current mechanical recycling system, there are impurities that are difficult to remove from recycled resins, and it is said that the quality of resins deteriorates with repeated recycling. In chemical recycling, we sort, pulverize, and wash used PET bottles to remove dirt and contaminants, then we depolymerize them (chemical decomposition treatment), and break down and purify the PET into intermediate raw materials, which we then polymerize (synthesize) again into PET, enabling us to recycle it into PET raw materials with a high level of purity. This means we can also recycle PET products other than used bottles as PET bottles. In the future, we will study the development of technologies aimed at the commercialization of this technology and establish a system to collect PET products other than bottles.
In March 2021, we joined the “Alliance to End Plastic Waste,” an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving the world's plastic waste problem, with the aim of working with participating companies to address the problem from a global perspective.
The Kirin Group aims to identify the essential issues that plastics pose and work with a variety of stakeholders to create a “society that continuously recycles plastics.”