ActivitiesSustainable Containers/Packaging

3R Activities for Containers and Packaging

The Asahi Group engages in activities to ensure its containers and packaging is more sustainable. Specifically, it strives to conserve resources, use lightweight products and improve the recyclability of its products from the perspective of the 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle), including PET bottles, cans, glass bottles, caps, labels, cardboard boxes and other container and packaging materials.

Activities for Plastic Containers and Packaging

The Asahi Group considers that efforts to reduce the environmental load of plastic containers/packaging are essential as a means of contributing to building a recycling-based society and addressing climate change issues. We have therefore established Guidelines on Plastics to enable our employees to take specific actions in cooperation with our stakeholders.

Guidelines on Plastics

The Asahi Group contributes to resource circulation by delivering its products to consumers utilizing the beneficial features of plastic containers/packaging and following guidelines in response to environmental issues brought about by plastics.

  1. We actively promote a switchover to eco-friendly materials*1, without using fossil raw materials.
  2. We reduce the usage of single-use plastics*2 and consider developing alternative new materials and new ways of selling, leading to waste reduction.
  3. We drive the establishment of recycling systems in cooperation with governments and trade associations, and actively lead educational programs, sorting of waste collections, and clean-up activities.

*1 Eco-friendly materials: Recycled materials, biomass materials,biodegradable materials, and others
*2 Single-use plastics:Plastics that are disposed of after use and not reused

Reduce

Unlabeled Bottles:
Reducing the Use of Sticker-type Labels to Achieve Totally Unlabeled Bottles

photoAsahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. has unlabeled products. The system for labelling containers for identification was changed in April 2020, enabling the company to completely shift to unlabeled products by printing the recycling symbols directly onto PET bottles instead of using tack sticker labels.

photoIn May 2018, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. launched unlabeled products which are sold by the box only. Currently, this has been extended to seven product types and eight items. Eliminating the use of labels on PET bottles has successfully reduced the amount of resin used to make labels by nearly 90%. This reduces the effort necessary to peel off labels when disposing of bottles and also reflects other convenience considerations. Furthermore, the activity is praised for its contribution to the reduction of marine plastic waste. Our unlabeled products were exhibited at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019 as part of the Japanese government's publicity exhibition. In April 2021, Todoku Tsuyosa no Nyusankin W was added to the portfolio of Asahi's unlabeled products sold by the box only.
Also in April 2021, 585-milliliter PET bottles of Asahi Oishii Mizu natural mineral water with a simple eco-label will go on sale on a trial basis, available at stores and some vending machines in limited areas of East Japan. A small tack sticker (simple eco-label) indicating the necessary information is affixed to one side of a bottle, instead of a roll label which was conventionally used for Asahi Oishii Mizu. This makes it possible to reduce the CO2 emissions from labels by nearly 58% and to sell the bottled products individually. Moving forward, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. will develop new unlabeled products and expand their sales channels.

Reducing the Weight of Plastic Bottles

photoAsahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. reduced the weight of the plastic bottle for Calpis (34 grams per bottle) by 2 grams in 2019. This initiative has reduced annual plastic consumption by approximately 130 tons.

Making Lighter Weight PET Soft Drink Bottles

photoAsahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. has also been reviewing the PET bottles for its regular items and reducing their weight. The weight reductions are compared to the weight in 2004, which is the base year.

Making Lighter Weight PET Bottles of Alcoholic Beverages

Asahi Breweries, Ltd. has developed a handled 4-liter PET bottle which is the lightest of its kind in the industry. This helped the company to reduce the plastic used by nearly 22%, which resulted in a 99-ton reduction of CO2 emissions in 2020. The material is used for the company's shochu brands including Kanoka and Daigoro.

Expanding Refillable Products

photoAsahi Group Foods, Ltd. has introduced refillable packages for some of its products, such as Oshibori Wetty, Suhada Shizuku and Milufuwa, to reduce waste and the amount of plastics used.

Making Lighter Weight Caps for Carbonated Beverage PET Bottles
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Since February 2018, the cap that Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. uses for its carbonated beverage PET bottles is the lightest in Japan.* The cap, collaboratively developed with Nippon Closures Co., Ltd., made PET bottle caps between 7 and 10% lighter, from between 3.25 and 3.35 grams to 3.03 grams.

*Survey by Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. (as of March 2021)

Use of Roll Labels on Beverage PET Bottles
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In April 2020, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. began using roll labels on some of its PET bottles to reduce label consumption per bottle by nearly 55% and reduce the amount of PET resin used annually as a raw material by nearly 50 tons.

Eliminating the Use of Plastics in 6-can Pack Rings and Shrinkable Films
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Carlton & United Breweries, a company under the umbrella of Asahi Holdings (Australia), ended its use of plastic rings and shrinkable films for 6-can packs of canned products in 2019. It is expected that this will result in an annual reduction of more than 30 million plastic rings and more than 248 tons of plastic shrinkable film.

Switching 6-can Packaging to the Cardboard Topclip
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In 2020, Asahi Europe and International began to switch the packaging for 6-can packs of Grolsch, a Dutch beer brand, from plastic shrinkable film to Topclip, a packaging that uses cardboard. It is expected that switching all Dutch six-can packs Topclip packaging will reduce the amount of plastics used annually by 100,000 kilograms, which is a reduction of 4 million plastic bags.

Recycle

As a member of the Council for PET Bottle Recycling, the Asahi Group is working to achieve a recycling rate of over 85 percent (base year: 2004), as targeted in the Council's Voluntary 2025 Action Plan for 3R Promotion (FY2021–FY2025). We are making efforts toward sustainable containers and packaging materials through such steps as promoting unlabeled bottles that make waste separation easy and using bottles made from recycled PET bottles since July 2019 for some of its lactic drinks including Calpis Water.

Introduction of Bottles Made from Recycled PET
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In July 2019, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. began using recycled PET bottles for some of its lactic beverages such as Calpis Water. Subsequently, the use of recycled PET bottles was expanded to the Mitsuya brand, Wilkinson Tansan and other carbonated beverages that require bottles that are resistant to pressure. From 2021, Some Asahi Jurokucha bottles will be recycled PET bottles.

Collaboration with Outside Companies to Circulate PET Bottle Resources

Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. has started activities for the circular consumption of PET bottle resources in collaboration with outside companies by procuring chemically recycled PET resin with the goal of achieving its Container & Packaging 2030 target, ensuring that recycled PET bottles and plant-derived, eco-friendly materials are 60% of the total weight of plastic its containers and packaging by 2030. This involves the financing of JEPLAN, Inc., the company that recycles bottles, and supporting its subsidiary, PET Refine Technology Co., Ltd., in the resumption of its factory operations to stimulate the procurement of chemically recycled PET resin. Factory operations will resume in the summer of 2021.

Introducing 100% Recycled PET Bottles
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Asahi Holdings (Australia) Pty Ltd. has invested in Blow-filling technology (a technology for the in-house production of PET bottles), thereby developing PET bottles with even lighter weight. The company has also introduced recycled bottles. This activity enables the use of 100% recycled PET bottles that reduce CO2 emissions to approximately half of the emissions of conventional bottles. For some products, the company has succeeded in reducing CO2 emissions by 32% in the overall product lifecycle, from manufacturing to refrigeration and sales.

Establishing a Factory for the Manufacturing Raw Materials for Recycled PET Bottles

In February 2020, Asahi Beverages, a company under the umbrella of Asahi Holdings (Australia), concluded a basic agreement with Pact Group Holdings and Cleanaway Waste Management to jointly build a factory in southeastern Australia to manufacture raw materials for recycled PET bottles. Set for begin operating by the end of 2021, the factory will process 28,000 tons of used PET bottles and make it possible to recycle PET pellets at a grade suitable for food containers.
After the factory's completion, Pact Group Holdings will provide its packaging technologies and knowledge, including in factory management, and Cleanaway Waste Management will supply used PET bottles. Asahi Beverages and Pact Group Holdings will combine their respective strengths by utilizing recycled PET bottles in product packaging in pursuit of the development of a sustainable plastics supply chain.

Using Recycled PET Bottles to Make the Handles of 4L PET Bottles for Alcoholic Beverages

Asahi Breweries, Ltd. recycles PET resin from PET bottles to make the handles of 4L PET bottles of Japanese shochu and Japanese whisky products. Minimizing its use of new petroleum-derived raw materials, the company strives to reduce its use of plastics to increase resource circulation.

Eco-friendly Materials

Encouraging the Use of Biomass Materials in Containers and Packaging
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Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. has been using Mitsuya Cider 1.5 L PET bottles that use plant-derived materials in a limited quantity since 2015. In 2020, the company used plant-derived raw materials in 30% of its PET bottles and caps and also used plant-derived inks to print labels, because it was expected that this would achieve a greater reduction of environmental burdens than with conventional, petroleum-derived ink. In 2021, Some of the PET bottles used for Asahi Oisii Mizu and Asahi Jurokucha are made from biomass materials.

Plastic Bottles Made Partly from Plant-derived Bio-Polyethylene
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Calpis 470 ml “Peace Bottle”

Plant-derived bio-polyethylene is 10% of the raw materials used in the plastic Calpis bottles available from Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd.
Manufacturing the caps, bottles and labels from the same material eliminates the need to peel off labels and remove caps when sorting waste. It is also ideal for recycling.

Avoiding the Use of Plastic Containers for Products

Development of “Tumbler in the Forest”

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Asahi Breweries, Ltd. collaboratively developed Tumbler in the Forest (Japanese Only) with Panasonic Corporation, launching the product in August 2019. The tumbler uses molded high-density cellulose fiber primarily made from refined pulp from timber extracted during forest thinning. To date, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. has collaborated with organizations and companies in the activities with the goal of solving environmental issues using Tumbler in the Forest.
In February 2020, Tumbler in the Forest received a 2020 iF Design Award, a globally recognized design award. The award was presented jointly to Asahi Breweries, Ltd. and Panasonic Corporation. It was the first time for Asahi Breweries, Ltd. to win the iF Design Award. In March 2020, Tumbler in the Forest also won the Consumer Judges Award at the 2020 Social Products Awards, the seventh time the awards were held by the Association for the Promotion of Social Products (APSP). In November, Tumbler in the Forest was chosen as a recipient of the Ministry of the Environment's commendation for contributors to the formation of a circular economy.

Development of “Mogu-cup”, an Edible Beverage Container

Asahi Breweries, Ltd. proposes a shift in people's dietary lifestyle from using disposable containers to using edible containers, tentatively launching edible containers in collaboration with Marushige Seika Co., Ltd. Mogu-cup (Japanese Only) is an edible beverage container made from potato starch grown in Japan. By heating and solidifying the raw material at a high temperature and high pressure, the edible container becomes more resistant to water and prevents it from leaking the liquids it contains. The container is seasoned so that consumers are able to enjoy the combination of the beverage and the flavor of the edible container.

Activities for Cans

Reduce

The Asahi Group works to reduce the weight of its beer and coffee cans to minimize the resources it uses, while maintaining usability for customers.

Making Lighter Weight Aluminum Cans
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In 2016, Asahi Breweries Ltd. in n collaboration with four can manufacturers developed a 350 ml beer can that is the lightest in its class of products in Japan (according to Asahi Breweries Ltd.).
The maximum weight reduction that could be achieved is 1 gram per 350 ml can, approximately 7% of its weight, which helped to reduce CO2 emissions by 9,800 tons in 2020.*

*Since can specifications differ between the can manufacturers that supply the cans, the figure here is for the current 14.9 g can, and the 13.9 g lightweight can that achieved the largest weight reduction.

Making Lighter Weight Steel Cans
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In 2019, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. introduced five-bead cans for WONDA Black 185 g, WONDA Special Café Au Lait 185 g and other canned products. Adding five beads to the can's body makes it thinner and helps reduce the use of steel by nearly 13.5% when compared to the conventional 28.1 g can.

Recycle

The Asahi Group is working to achieve a recycling rate of 92 percent for aluminum cans and a recycling rate of 90 percent for steel cans (base year:2004), as targeted in the Fourth Voluntary Action Plan for 3R Promotion (FY 2021–FY2025) of the Japan Aluminum Can Recycling Association and the Japan Steel Can Recycling Association. In addition to supporting the collection of used aluminum and steel cans, we collect and recycle both aluminum and steel cans that had to be disposed of as waste at our breweries and soft drink factories.

Activities for Glass Bottles and Barrels

Reduce

Making Lighter Weight Returnable Beer Glass Bottles

In October 2014, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. introduced 500 milliliter scrape-resistant, medium-sized bottles used commonly by three beer companies, Asahi Breweries Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and Suntory Holdings Ltd., with the goals of improving container quality and reducing environmental burdens. The manufacturing and delivery of products entails the scraping of the sides or labels of products. Recessing the body of a bottle by 0.2 mm to 0.3 mm limited scrapes to a smaller area of the bottle's surface and protected labels, leading to the improvement of container quality and a 10-gram weight reduction per bottle. As a result, making all bottles scrape-resistant reduced CO2 emissions from the manufacturing and delivery of bottles by 95.4 tons in 2019.

Reuse

Many returnable containers such as glass bottles and barrels are used for beer and soft drinks for liquor stores and restaurants. The Asahi Group as its own systems for collecting and washing these containers before repeated reusing them.
In 2020, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. collected and reused 239 million containers and Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. collected and reused 86 million containers.

Recycle

The Asahi Group is a member of the Glass Bottle 3R Promotion Association, and is working to recycle used glass bottles. We are aiming for 100 percent collection of returnable glass bottles, while also collecting bottles that have reached the end of their useful life from breweries and soft drink factories to be processed into cullet for use as raw material for glass bottles and other items.

Glass Bottle Collection Rate*
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Asahi Breweries: returnable bottles 107.9% 99.7% 100.9% 99.9% 106.2%
Asahi Soft Drinks: returnable bottles 98.0% 98.5% 99.0% 98.6% 103.0%

*Collection rate: number of bottles collected / Amount of products sold kg x 100

Activities for Paper Containers and Packaging

Reduce

Making Lighter Weight Corrugated Cartons

In 2013, Asahi Breweries, Ltd. introduced cartons that are about 17% lighter than conventional cartons, using them to package 350-milliliter multi-packs of beer cans. The company collaborated with Rengo Co., Ltd., a major carton manufacturer, to develop the industry's first “lightweight, waved cut carton” which reduced the weight per carton from 205 grams to 170 grams through improvements in the raw materials used for the carton's surface and in the ratio of compounding. This resulted in a reduction of approximately 3,000 tons of cartons used and the elimination of 2,500 tons of CO2 emissions in 2020.

Lightweight 6-can Packs

photoAsahi Breweries, Ltd. uses environmentally conscious, lightweight 6-can packs for all 6-can packs manufactured at all of its eight plants. The conventional 6-can pack is designed to support the cans with cardboard in a total of eight locations (at the top and bottom of the four corners). However, with this lightweight 6-can pack, the cardboard is shaped to support the bases of each of the six cans individually, improving the stability of the cans, while using less cardboard than the previous 6-can pack. This led to an approximately 10% reduction of paper used (approx. 4 grams) in comparison with conventional packs. This reduced paper use by approximately 1,800 tons, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions of approximately 1,500 tons in 2020. In addition, as part of the efforts to realize universal design, the new pack is designed to have an industry-first top opening zipper that can be opened in either direction, while the zipper of the previous products could only be opened from the right side.

*The packaging design has been changed.

Cardboard That Can be Displayed Directly

photoIn 2018, Asahi Group Foods, Ltd. discontinued the use of display carton packages for the Uchino Omiso-shiru (My Home Miso Soup) and Kyono Soup (Soup Days) series and instead began to use corrugated carton that can be placed in stores. Since this change, the container and packaging materials necessary for delivery occupy an area that is one third of what it had been. Further, the loading capacity of a pallet has been improved 80% and CO2 consumption associated with the transportation of pallets has been reduced 44%.

Recycle

Cartocans, Aluminum-free Containers

Asahi Group Foods, Ltd. uses Cartocans in its mail-order services. To improve their suitability for recycling, Cartocans are made with materials that can be stored at normal temperatures without the need to use aluminum. Cartocans are made from paper, which is made from pulp and can thus be recycled into cartons.

Eco-friendly Materials

Containers That Use Wood from Forest Thinning

For some of its products, Asahi Group Foods, Ltd. uses paper containers called “Cartocans,” which have acquired Kanbatsuzai Mark certification from the National Federation of Forest Owners' Co-operative Association. This certification is granted to products with a wood content of 30% or higher Japanese products that contain 10% or more wood from forest thinning.

Communication with Industry Bodies

Cooperation with Organizations in the Container Recycling Industry

Asahi Breweries, Ltd. and Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. are making efforts to engage in smooth communication with industry bodies focusing on the Brewers Association of Japan and the Japan Soft Drink Association, and also including the Glass Bottle 3R Promotion Association, Japan Aluminum Can Recycling Association, The Council for PET Bottle Recycling and The Beverage Industry Environment Beautification Association.
Each of the eight recycling organizations that are focused on with containers and packaging, including the trade organization that the Group joined in April 2006, has numerical targets and activity goals. They strive to practice the 3R, reduce, reuse and recycle, in accordance with the Fourth voluntary action plan for encouraging business operators to pursue the 3R. This plan set 2025 as its target year.

Taking Action to Prevent the Littering of Empty Containers

The Asahi Group engages in many different activities to prevent the littering of empty containers to facilitate environmental beautification and the efficient use of resources.

Placing Empty Container Collection Boxes

Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. encourages the effort of the Beverage Industry Environment Beautification Association to place one box for the collection of empty containers per vending machine. The unified beautification mark for the prevention of the littering of empty containers is affixed to vending machines to raise awareness of recycling.

Cleaning

As one of its staff volunteer activities, the Asahi Group takes part in clean-up events around the country organized by local governments and NPOs.

Activities at Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd.

Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. sympathizes with the aims of Umigomi (marine waste) Zero Week, a joint initiative of the Ministry of the Environment and the Nippon Foundation. From the end of May to June every year, the company cleans up the areas around its offices around the country. In 2019, clean-up events took place at 19 locations near the company's offices on weekdays during Umigomi Zero Week and in June, which is Environment Month.
Further, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. proactively took part in Clean Action 2019, an initiative of the Japan Soft Drink Association with which the company is affiliated. The goal of the initiative is to eliminate marine waste through the efforts of all of the people and companies of the soft drink industry. In May, Asahi Soft Drinks, as an affiliated company, participated in an event organized by the Ministry of the Environment and the Nippon Foundation to clean up the shore under the Bentenbashi Bridge near Enoshima in Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa to kick off Umigomi Zero Week. In June, Asahi Soft Drinks also participated in Dosukoi Beach Clean, a beach clean-up event organized by the NPO Umisakura and the Nippon Foundation.

*In 2020, the company refrained from participating in group clean-up events around its offices due to the pandemic.

Activities at Asahi Europe and International

Aware of its importance, Asahi Europe and International engages in many different activities to reduce waste and reuse and recycle packaging materials.

photoIn 2019, Ursus Breweries became the first partner company of the three biggest Romanian festivals, Neversea, Untold and Oktoberfest, to separately collect and recycle more than 1,200 kilograms worth of aluminum beer cans and more than 21,800 plastic cups in festival venues. For its activities, Ursus Breweries received the 2019 Green Can Business Award at the Awards Gala.

Since the beginning of Romanian nationwide clean-up initiative Let's Do it, Romania! in 2010, Ursus Breweries has been its largest volunteer partner. To date, more than 1,300 employees of the company have participated in volunteer activities in Bucharest and other cities and collected thousands of bags of waste.

Ciucas, a beer brand, began Ciucas NCP 2020, a new national campaign collecting plastic caps and metallic pull-tabs, in the fall of 2020. The program collected and recycled 1,338 kilograms of plastic caps and pull-tabs.

photoGambrinus, another beer brand, partnered with the Clean Czechia project in 2020 and, as part of a stop PET campaign, supported the Clean the World, Clean Czechia clean-up event. Tens of corporate volunteers participated in the Gambrinus Cleans Pilsen event to clean the area around the Pilsen Brewery and collect 50 bags of waste.

Activities at Asahi Holdings (Australia)

Phoenix Organics, a New Zealand beverage brand, has supported the beach clean-up and forestation activities of Sustainable Coastlines, a charitable organization based on the coast of New Zealand since 2012. In 2020, the brand was a gold sponsor of Sustainable Coastlines and about 40 employees participated in a beach clean-up event in Rangitoto.

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