1. TOP
  2. SUSTAINABILITY
  3. Environment
  4. Circular Economy
  5. Activities

ActivitiesCircular Economy

In pursuit of a circular economy, the Asahi Group engages in a variety of activities.

Recycling of By-products (Utilization of Microorganisms and Fermentation Technologies)

The Asahi Group works to utilize as many different by-products as possible, with the goal of recycling 100% of the by-products from its manufacturing processes.

Utilization of Beer Brewing By-products

Utilization of Malt Feed

The Asahi Group processes malt feed (brewer's grains), a by-product of beer manufacturing, and efficiently uses them to feed livestock.

Utilization of Beer Yeast

One by-product of beer-brewing is beer yeast. Post-brewing yeast is used as a raw material for the manufacture of Ebios naturally derived beer yeast tablets, which have been commercially available since 1930. Decomposed yeast extracts are used as raw materials for seasonings and similar products.

Utilization of Beer Yeast Cell Walls
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Rice plants using an agricultural supplement made from beer yeast cell walls (right), and conventionally cultivated rice plants (left)

Since 2004, the Asahi Group has been working on the development of a new type of agricultural material that utilizes the plant immunity properties of beer yeast cell wall, a by-product of the brewing process.
Beer yeast, the by-product of beer brewing, has been used for purposes such as the manufacture of Ebios. However, the water-insoluble yeast cell walls in the by-product cannot be absorbed by plants, so have not been put to any use to date.
After about ten years of study, the Asahi Group succeeded in developing an agricultural material (a fertilizer raw material) that improves the cell walls' absorbability by plants. The Asahi Group developed proprietary technology used to process beer yeast cell walls, paving the way toward the creation of agricultural materials capable of reducing agrochemical use and increasing crop yields. A test conducted with rice and other crops showed that the agricultural materials amazingly helped plants extend roots and improved the crops resistance to diseases.
As this agricultural material allows for a reduction in the amount of agricultural chemicals and chemical fertilizer used, it offers safety, peace of mind and potential effects such as enhanced quality and soil improvements. Moreover, the increased crop yields also enable lower greenhouse gas emissions as a percentage of yield, and as such are expected to contribute to sustainable agriculture.

To resolve social problems through our business operations, these agricultural materials are currently available from Asahi Biocycle Co., Ltd., a company established in 2017. In japan, they are used by farms, golf courses and natural-grass sports facilities and parks such as baseball fields, including Hanshin Koshien Stadium. Overseas, as explained below, verification tests have started in Indonesia and Laos in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with the goal of resolving problems faced in agricultural operations in developing countries.

Efforts in Developing Countries

The Asahi Group has partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since 2019, aiming to contribute to solving the issues of farm operations in developing countries.
The Asahi Group provides agricultural materials to a public-private project for the development of a farm product distribution system in Indonesia, implemented by JICA, and to a participatory project for agricultural promotion in Savannakhet, Laos. In cooperation with JICA, we offer technical support for the projects. We grow vegetables on a trial basis in DKI Jakarta, Indonesia. The technical support is aimed at developing a system that will allow high-quality, safe crops to be harvested, and proposing an agricultural production system that will be able to increase and maintain the incomes of farmers. Farming in Laos mainly involves the cultivation of rice, which we grow on a trial basis to enhance its productivity and quality, among other reasons.
Furthermore, JICA organizes training programs and experiments aiming to ensure that international researchers engaged in the promotion of rice cultivation and the advancement of agriculture in developing countries would acquire knowledge and skills in farming at JICA's training centers in Japan and improve the farming practice in their country. The Asahi Group pursues a sustainable society by providing training on the agricultural material using the yeast cell wall in different training programs and encouraging the use of the material in the developing countries.

Utilization of Coffee Grounds

The Asahi Group has advanced a variety of activities such as the recycling of coffee grounds from coffee manufacturing processes into fertilizers or supplying them to outside facilities for use as fuel for biomass energy. In 2020, the Asahi Group developed Frost Buster, a frost damage inhibitor for farm crops that is made with an extract from coffee grounds, in collaboration with KUREi, a startup from Kansai University. Frost Buster is capable of inhibiting damage to crops through a technology enabling moisture to exist as a liquid even below the freezing point. Data on the product's effectiveness has been collected mainly from fruit farms. Currently, Frost Buster is being test-marketed for full-scale commercialization in the future.

Related Information

Use of Microorganisms

Use of a Composting Accelerator
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Asahi Biocycle Co., Ltd. pursues the development of a use cycle circulating food resources by efficiently composting food using Thervelics, a composting accelerator containing unique strains of bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis C-3102, to recycle the food resources into crops. Thervelics efficiently carries out composting by accelerating the fermentation of food waste, such as vegetable peels, advancing the speed of decomposition.
The Asahi Group believes that the greater application of Thervelics will reduce the impact on the environment by reducing the volume of food waste and promote recycling-oriented agriculture through the use of compost. It will also promote food recycling and contribute to the creation of a circular economy and the establishment of regional resource recycling-oriented economies and other achievements.

Food Waste Recycling in Employee Cafeterias

The Asahi Group has introduced a composter that uses Thervelics to some of its staff canteens. The composter achieves zero kitchen waste and contributes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation and incineration of kitchen waste by converting waste and leftovers from canteens into compost.
The high-quality, mature compost eventually produced is supplied to farming families, where it is used for growing crops.

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Utilizing Probiotics for Livestock

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CALSPORIN (Bacillus subtilis strain C-3102) from Asahi Biocycle Co., Ltd. is a probiotic that regulates the intestinal flora of livestock. Its benefits include improved feed efficiency and increased livestock size. CALSPORIN is currently sold in more than 57 countries worldwide, making it possible to save approximately 630,000 tons of mixed feed grains (soybean, corn, flour, etc.) per year worldwide in 2020. The grain saved could be used as food for people, helping to solve the global food shortage problem. According to Asahi Biocycle Co., Ltd. estimates, assuming CALSPORIN was used for livestock feed worldwide, food for 125 million people could be produced.

Reduction of Waste

The Asahi Group advances a variety of activities for the reduction of waste.

Use of Recycled Resources

In Japan, the Asahi Group set a target of recycling 100% of the by-products and waste from its manufacturing bases in japan*1 and this has already been achieved.*2 The Group will expand this effort to its overseas manufacturing bases and offices with the goal of recycling 100% of by-products and waste from the entire Asahi Group.

*1 Manufacturing bases in Japan and the Asahi Group Holdings headquarters.
*2 Volumes of waste generated and waste recycled are both calculated in units of 1,000 tons (kilotons). Actual recycling rates may reach 100% due to rounding up of values to two decimal points.

Methods of Utilization for Recycled By-products and Waste (Examples)
Methods of utilization
Malt feed
(crust of malt generated during the processing stage)
Fodder
Sludge, screened lees Organic fertilizer, compost, etc.
Glass cullet Recycled bottles, new bottles, building materials, etc.
Collected raw material Residues Fodder
Surplus brewing yeast Quasi-pharmaceutical products such as "Ebios" manufactured by Asahi Food & Healthcare Co., Ltd., food material such as yeast extract, and "Asahi Super Beer Yeast" etc.
Cardboard/paper Base paper of cardboard.
Waste palettes Manufactured paper, fuel chips.
Label chaff Recycled paper
Waste plastics Recycled plastic
Steel scrap Steel material
Aluminium scrap Aluminium cans, electrical products
Incinerated ash Base course material
Waste oil Oil equivalent to B-grade heavy oil
Other (waste barrels, etc.) Stainless-steel parts are Recycled and rubber parts are used as heat source

Waste Management

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External View of Bioenergy Facility

From 2015, the Asahi Group has been progressively implementing a waste product data management system for all Group companies in japan to strengthen its information disclosure through the centralized management of waste product data, and strengthen compliance at plants of Group companies, even as the Group continues to promote the optimization of its operations.
The Asahi Group Head Office building uses a methane fermentation system (Jyonanjima food recycling facility) to recycle food scrap waste into electricity and city gas and contribute to supplying electricity to Tokyo. Through this kind of initiative, the Head Office building has maintained 100% waste recycling since 2006.

Reduction of Food Loss / Proper Inventory Management Utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Asahi Group believes that we can also contribute to reducing food loss through proper inventory management.
With the aim of promoting optimized production plans and inventory management, Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. worked with IBM Japan from 2019 to launch test operations for production adjustment by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI).
This system uses AI to recommend adjustments to the production plan approximately two weeks before production. Utilizing a unique corpus* built on the enormous system data of the Group, including past business documents, inventory performance and shipping quantities, to teach an AI, we provide the best advice possible to assist those responsible for adjusting production based on the plan they've created. It was confirmed by the demonstration test conducted in September 2018 that the AI system improved upon the accuracy of the judgements made solely by people in the past. As a result, the possibility of cost reductions enabled by the reduction of long-term inventory products has been opened to the Group.

*Corpus: Records on decision making by those in charge of the production adjustment based on enormous past data regarding production adjustment.

Production Adjustment Process Utilizing AI
Production Adjustment Process Utilizing AI

Reduction of Food Waste / Replacement of Use by Labels with Labels Showing Year and Month Only

We are replacing Use By labels showing the year, month, and date with labels indicating the year and month only as an initiative for reducing food wastage.

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  • Example of Use By Labels on Products of Asahi Group Foods, Ltd.

Reducing Food Loss in the Asahi Group's Operational Activities

We Encourage the Efficient Use of the Coffee Grounds and Used Tea Leaves Generated in Manufacturing

Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd. develops applications for recycling and efficiently using 100% of the food waste from the company's product manufacturing processes.
Since 2013, its Hokuriku Plant has used coffee grounds generated during the manufacturing of the Wonda brand of coffee as a fuel for biomass energy. The Fujisan Plant recycles used tea leaves from the production of Jurokucha into mixed feed for dairy cows. These practices lead to the efficient use of waste and a reduction of the use of imported cereals that would be the raw materials for mixed feed. Consequently, they contribute to the reduction of feed costs.

  • photoCoffee grounds are used as fuel for biomass power generation.
  • photoUsed Jurokucha tea leaves are recycled into mixed feed.