The Sustainability of raw materials

Plastic Policy

The convenience of plastic has made it a popular material for many different products, 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 could not be said that all plastics are being efficiently circulated. Plastic waste discarded into the environment is finding its way into the oceans, causing global concern about the potential for marine pollution and adverse impacts on ecosystems.
The issue of plastic waste has become one of the major environment-related social issues. Kirin Holdings established the Kirin Group Plastic Policy in February 2019 with the intention of finding a solution to this issue. In the Policy, to further promote resource circulation of PET bottles, we declared a target of increasing the percentage of recycled plastic in PET bottles for the Japan market to 50% by 2027. We also declared that we would consider the introduction of PET bottles made with plastic derived from inedible plant material, with the aim of moving away from petroleum resources.
The Kirin Group will promote the sustainable use and resource circulation of plastics by identifying the essential challenges that plastics pose and swiftly pursuing appropriate actions regarding the plastic containers and packaging that the Group provides.

Sustainable use of PET bottles

With the establishment of safe methods for recycling PET plastics, Kirin Beverages is promoting initiatives to use recycled PET materials in its PET bottle production. This method, known as “mechanical recycling,” 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 PET bottles made from 100% recycled PET material for some of the packaging of its Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Oishii Muto (sugar-free) product in February 2014. This bottle uses 90% fewer petroleum resources and achieves a reduction in CO2 emissions of 50~60% than regular petroleum-derived PET materials.
In mid-June 2019, this bottle was adopted for 430 ml Kirin Nama-cha Decaf , which bears the R100 mark to indicate that it is made from 100% recycled PET material.
The R100 bottle used for Kirin Nama-cha Decaf won the President of Japan Packaging Institute Award at the Japan Packaging Contest 2019 sponsored by the Japan Packaging Institute in 2019 and the WorldStar Award in the beverages category at the 2020 WorldStar Packaging Awards Competition sponsored by the World Packaging Organization (WPO) in 2020.

  • Sustainable use of PET bottles

Adoption of FSC-certified paper for containers and packaging

The Kirin Group established its CSV Commitment in February 2017. As the first stage in concrete approaches, we revised the 2013 Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Biological Resources and announced our goal of switching to FSCcertified paper for all of our paper containers and packaging by the end of 2020. This indicates that we have entered a new stage of pursuing the sustainability of container and packaging materials themselves, and it is positioned as an important approach that deals with the dual challenges of “biological resources” and “containers and packaging” mentioned in our Environmental Vision 2050. A major feature of this approach is that it targets 6-can packs, gift boxes, drink boxes and cardboard cartons for products, which covers all of our paper containers. This is the first declaration of its kind to be made by a Japanese manufacturer.
In non-alcoholic beverages, as of May 2016, before this declaration, Kirin Beverages had adopted FSC-certified paper for all of its 250-ml drink boxes for the Tropicana 100% range, and was displaying the FSC label on the boxes. After the declaration, it extended the use of FSC-certified paper to its Tropicana 900-ml drink boxes in March 2017, and to its Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Summer Citrus Tea in May the same year. It continued to progressively adopt FSC-certified paper for other products, and at the end of October 2018 FSC-certified paper was applied for 6-can beverage packs and cardboard cartons. By the end of November 2019, 100% use of FSCcertified paper was achieved for all paper containers of Kirin Beverage’s products. In alcoholic beverages, 100% use of FSC-certified paper for 6-can beer packs of all sizes was achieved by the end of November 2017, and certified paper was adopted for the Kirin Ichiban Draft Set gift boxes in October the same year.
By the end of March 2019, 100% use of FSC-certified paper was achieved for all paper containers used by Kirin Brewery, including gift boxes and cardboard cartons. FSC-certified paper is also used for over 98% of paper packs for alcoholic beverages, the remaining type of packaging, and Mercian expects to achieve 100% use of FSC-certified paper on all paper packs for alcoholic beverages by the end of 2020.

  • Adoption of FSC-certified paper for containers and packaging

FSC-certified paper targets and status of achievement

The status of achievement of targets as of the end of March 2020 is as follows.

FSC-certified paper targets and rate of achievement

TypeTargetTarget YearRate of FSC-certified paperRate of FSC labeling
6-can packs for beer 100% End of 2017 100% adout 93%
6-can packs for non-alcoholic
100% End of 2017 100% adout 78%
Gift boxes 100% End of 2020 100% adout 70%
Drink boxes for non-alcoholic
100% End of 2020 100% adout 75%
Drink boxes for alcoholic beverages 100% End of 2020 約98% adout 9%
Cardboard cartons for non-alcoholic beverages 100% End of 2020 100% adout 70%
Cardboard cartons for beer and RTD products 100% End of 2020 100% adout 60%
Cardboard cartons for wine and Shochu products 100% End of 2020 100% 0%

FSC logo displayed on top of 6-can beer packs and cardboard cartons for products

The Kirin Group is pursuing the display of the FSC-certified label to give consumers a real sense of the importance of protecting the forests. In May 2017, we became the first brewery in Japan to sell 6-can packs of beer displaying the FSC-certified label. Since October the same year, we have begun progressively displaying the label on the underside of other 6-can packs and it now appears on the underside of almost all of our 6-can packs.
We have also started displaying the label on the spout and sides of drink boxes for non-alcoholic beverages, with the label already visible on almost half of these products. Further, starting with January 2019 shipments, the FSC logo is being displayed on the top of 6-can packs and cardboard cartons for alcoholic beverages. Now it is possible to see the logo on most products on store shelves.