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10/25/2019

Circular economy to likely change society

Multinational, cross-industry efforts aim to address plastic waste

One of the alliance’s features is the wide variety of its members. Not only major makers, but also mid-ranking companies (300 to 1,000 employees) as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises, are taking part in the alliance, in addition to firms engaging in recycling businesses.

A forum hosted by the Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance in July in Tokyo

Working as a group featuring companies from upstream and downstream business processes, the alliance is engaging in coming up with effective measures through making the most of its character as a cross-industrial entity.

For instance, one chemical company has shared the latest development trend on alternative materials with its customer firms, who are makers of household goods and consumer products. Such an effort is aimed at leading to early productization.

In another example, a household goods maker rapidly informed a materials company of a product specification that the former seeks in an effort to develop a package that is convenient to use.

Innovative efforts

To begin with, the driver for promotion of these collaborative efforts is an innovation by individual companies.

One such innovation that aims to reduce the use of plastic is Kao’s development of a new “air-in film bottle” that is made from a thin plastic film mixed with air.

This new air-in film bottle can stand and hold contents like any conventional bottle but is extremely thin and flexible as it is made of considerably less plastic than traditional plastic bottles. Kao aims to fully utilize used plastics to produce this new material.

An air-in film bottle, under development by Kao Corp.

Meanwhile, Suntory Holdings announced it plans to only use recycled or plant-based materials for all the basic ingredients for its beverage’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in the world by 2030, thus reducing the use of materials derived from fossil resources to zero.

The company has set out to establish systems featuring effective circulation of resources suitable to situations in countries and regions where its group firms operate their businesses. Toward its realization, it seeks to promote collaboration with various entities including government agencies, related industrial circles, nongovernmental organizations in the environment field and nonprofit organizations.

The concept of a circular economy is supposed to protect companies from resource depletion and create industrial competitiveness through providing new business opportunities and innovative production and consumption. Overall, society is likely to see the further spread of relevant action to embody this concept.

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