Overcoming climate changeDistribution

Modal shift

The Kirin Group is actively pursuing a modal shift of switching from truck transport to rail and ocean transport, which has lower GHG emissions, for long-distance shipments (400 to 500 km or more).Although truck transport is efficient when transporting various types of beverages over a relatively short distance to the warehouses of our business partners, rail transport enables further reduction of GHG emissions over long-distance shipments. We have developed special cartons (registered as a utility model) that are less likely to rub together during long-distance rail transport. These are just some of the initiatives we are continuing to take in pursuing a modal shift as
we work to reduce GHG emissions and maintain and improve quality during shipping at the same time.

  • Figure: Joint delivery from Pacific Ocean side to Japan Sea side

Joint delivery

The Kirin Group has positioned the logistics area as a non-competitive sector and is actively engaging in initiatives together with other companies in the same industry.
In 2017, together with other companies in the industry, we established a joint delivery center in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, and launched joint transport by rail container from plants in the Kansai area. Neither of the companies has plants on the Japan Sea side, so products previously had to be transported by truck over long distances—of 200 km—from their plants on the Pacific Ocean side. This was inefficient and placed a great burden on the truck drivers. Joint transportation using rail containers has not only significantly reduced GHG emissions but shortened distances between the plants and the terminals and between the terminals and the destinations with a significant alleviation of the burden on drivers, which is helping to solve the social issue of a shortage in truck drivers. Through these efforts, we have successfully completed a modal shift from long distance
truck transportation, equivalent to 10,000 vehicles a year, to railway containers, and we estimate that we can thus annually reduce GHG emissions by approximately 2,700 tons.
In September 2017, we began joint delivery in the eastern Hokkaido area. As a result of these efforts, we are effectively utilizing railway containers and have enhanced truck loading efficiency, leading to more efficient logistics. We estimate that this results in a reduction in annual GHG emissions of approximately 330 tons.*
The Kyowa Kirin Group also conducts joint transportation of products between distribution centers. Since 2020, the Ube Plant has been transporting raw materials in railway containers.

* Contribution to Avoided Emissions through the Global Value Chain, Third Edition, Keidanren (Japan Business Foundation)

  • Figure: Joint delivery in Hokkaido

Joint collection of beer pallets

In a joint initiative by the Japan’s four major breweries, we are expanding the joint collection of beer pallets. We began the joint collection of beer pallets in the Tohoku area in November 2018. From July 2019, we expanded the initiative to the Tokyo metropolitan, Tokai, and Kyushu areas, before deploying it nationwide from November 2019. Thanks to these efforts, it is estimated that in total, the four brewers have reduced annual CO2 emissions by 5,158 tons of CO2 (a reduction of approximately 37% compared with former methods),* by improving the loading ratio of collection vehicles and shortening distances to collection.

  • Contribution to Avoided Emissions through the Global Value Chain, Third Edition, Keidanren (Japan Business Foundation)
  • Figure: Joint collection scheme for beer pallets

  1. Restricted to customers that have dealings with multiple companies and a transaction scale of at least a certain level (total of around 10,000 beer pallets a year from members of the Association for Joint Use of Beer Pallets)
  2. One company will represent the four beer companies and collect the pallets. None of the other companies will collect them.
  3. The representative will tally up the pallets of the four beer companies and manage the collection with the customer.

Improving loading efficiency

Using a truck allocation system that has master data for the precise loading capacities of each truck, the Kirin Group is working to transport our products with the most efficient combinations of trucks and cargo.
Kirin Beverage compensated for reduction in capacity for large carbonated drink containers (1.5 L) by changing the shape of the “shoulders” of bottles and changing the diameter of PET bottles bodies from 92.5 mm to 89.5 mm. This means that the number of cases loaded on one pallet has been increased from 40 (10 cases x 4 stacks) to 60 (15 cases x 4 stacks), improving the loading efficiency by a factor of 1.5.

  • Figure: Improving loading efficiency

    *Product photos are as of the end of June 2022.

Adjustments to brewing and production sites

 KIRIN GROUP LOGISTICS and Kirin Brewery are making adjustments to brewing and production sites as a key measure to reduce GHG emissions from transportation. Kirin Brewery's Sendai Plant began producing RTD products in 2022, and we expect to be able to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 3,000 tonnes per year by reducing transport distances. We will promote the optimization of our network across production and distribution as a whole at other brewing and production sites.

Vendor-managed warehouse

We produce the soft drinks produced and sold by Kirin Beverage at plants throughout Japan, and they cover a wide range of beverages, including tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, and sports drinks. Because raw ingredient production plants and warehouses are extremely limited in number in contrast to product manufacturing plants, long distance shipments are increasing. Since we transport raw ingredients when necessary, and in the amounts necessary, in accordance with the production plans of product manufacturing plants, even small amounts of raw ingredients are transported over a long distance, which was becoming an inefficient practice.
With the aim of mitigating the risk of not being able to transport due to an unavailability of trucks and optimizing transportation efficiency, we started a trial operation of a raw materials procurement and distribution system using a raw materials warehouse (vendor-managed warehouse) adjacent to Kirin Beverage’s in-house plants, the Shonan Plant and Shiga Plant, from October 2019. By establishing this facility as a vendor-managed warehouse, raw ingredient suppliers can transport the desired amount of raw ingredients when they need to, thereby maximizing efficiency.This has made it easier to cope with sudden changes in production plans, and contributed greatly to improving the responsiveness of plants.
Based on the results of this trial, in April 2020, we increased the number of applicable raw ingredients to more than 200 types at 20 plants nationwide, including subcontracted plants, and the system is in full operation. Given full-scale operation, we have estimated that we are able to reduce GHG emissions by at least 1,000 tonnes per year (reduction rate of approximately 80%) and cut the number of longdistance*1 transport trucks by at least 4,000 vehicles (reduction rate of approximately 63%).*2

  1. Defined as 100 km or more
  2. Estimated based on the raw ingredient transportation results in 2017, only for raw ingredients that are assumed to make use of vendor-managed warehouses.
  • Figure: Vendor-managed warehouse

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