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Unilever Japan and Kao Report on the Progress of the "Collaborative Plastic Recycling Program"

1,426 used packaging collected in the first 80 days in Higashi-Yamato City.
This project was selected as an innovative technology and business model promotion project by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.


Unilever Japan and Kao Corporation, with the cooperation of Veolia Japan, are implementing the "Collaborative Plastic Recycling Program" in Higashi-Yamato City, Tokyo, with the aim of creating a circular economy where plastic does not become waste. The following is a report on the progress of the project from June to August 2021.

Objectives of the "Collaborative Plastic Recycling Program"

● Exploring methods for the separated collection and recycling of personal and home care product packaging through collaboration with consumers, local government, and business enterprises.
● Verifying horizontal recycling technologies that can make new bottles from used bottles of personal and home care products.

Progress and Achievement

We are collecting used packaging of personal and home care products separately using collection boxes set up at 10 locations in Higashi-Yamato City, Tokyo. With the cooperation of citizens of Higashi-Yamato City, we collected 1,426 used product packaging, approximately 42kg, from June 1 (Tuesday) to August 18 (Wednesday), 2021. Citizens of the city, equivalent to 3.6% of all households in the city, participated in this program*1 . About 46% of the collected product packaging were bottles and about 54% were film packaging for refill. Most were cleaned and dried at home, and there was only few items other than used packaging of personal and home care products.

With support of Higashi-Yamato City, we have been actively promoting this project through the city's website, SNS, waste separation app, posters, etc. Thanks to the understanding and cooperation of the citizens, collection has been progressing smoothly. Furthermore, the project was selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as "2021 Innovative Technology and Business Model Promotion Projects", for taking progressive actions to realize horizontal recycling.

  • * 1 Calculated based on the approximate number of bottles collected divided by the number of households in Higashi-Yamato City (39,895 households, as of August 2021)

Future Actions (including actions planned and under consideration)

● Expanding separated collection of used packaging of personal and home care products
In addition to the collection and awareness-raising activities at our existing locations, we will continue to explore a system that will allow more people to participate in our activities as easy and fulfilling as possible. Specifically, we are considering actions such as carrying out a survey to citizens, adding collection sites, and using an app to visualize the amount collected at each site. We are also considering ways to improve the efficiency of the collection processes and collaborate with partners to ensure that the program remains commercially sustainable even as the number of collection sites increases.

● Verification of horizontal recycling technology, making new bottles from used bottles
Collected packaging will be sorted, cleaned, and processed by Veolia Jenets K.K., a leading company in waste management and recycling, during September 2021. Then, by October 2021, Unilever Japan and Kao will aim to test-mold them into bottles with the cooperation of package manufacturers. Furthermore, by December 2021, we will conduct various tests including strength and safety tests to verify washing and recycling processes for horizontal recycling. We plan to continue the same verification process every three months.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while improving the health of the planet; improving people's health, confidence and wellbeing; and contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world. We serve consumers in Japan for over 50 years with brands including Lux, Dove, Clear, and AXE.
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About Kao

Kao creates high-value-added products that enrich the lives of consumers around the world. Through its portfolio of over 20 leading brands such as Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries, and Molton Brown, Kao is part of the everyday lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America, and Europe. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,400 billion yen in annual sales. Kao employs about 33,000 people worldwide and has 130 years of history in innovation. Please visit the Kao Group website for updated information.

About Veolia Group

Veolia group aims to be the benchmark company for ecological transformation. With nearly 179,000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides game-changing solutions that are both useful and practical for water, waste and energy management. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and replenish them. In 2020, the Veolia group supplied 95 million people with drinking water and 62 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 43 million megawatt hours of energy and treated 47 million metric tons of waste. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €26.010 billion in 2020.

Initiatives for Kao's ESG Strategy, the Kirei Lifestyle Plan and plastic circularity in society

Recognizing its responsibility as an enterprise that provides products which people use on a regular basis in their daily lives, Kao takes active steps to reduce the environmental footprint of its products throughout the entirety of the product lifecycle. In April 2019, Kao launched the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, its ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy, which incorporates 19 key leadership actions. Kao's purpose is to create a Kirei life for all. The Japanese word 'kirei' describes something that is both clean and beautiful. For Kao, Kirei not only encapsulates appearance, but also attitude—to create beauty for oneself, other people, and for the world around us. The Kirei Lifestyle Plan aims to integrate ESG as the foundation of its management to accelerate business growth and create products and services of better value for consumers and society.

Regarding the issue of plastic waste, which is a significant problem for society, in 2018, Kao announced its "Our Philosophy & Action on Plastic Packaging" declaration, and are abiding by the 4Rs: Reduce, Replace, Reuse, Recycle. We are substantially reducing the amount of plastic used in our packaging, by making them thinner, reusable, refillable, and reduced in volume, as well as improving our liquid concentration. We are also developing packaging that is easier to recycle. Plus, we will make efforts to switch away from fossil fuel-based plastics toward the use of sustainable materials.

In September 2019, Kao announced that it would be focusing on Innovation in Reduction and Innovation in Recycling, so as to help realize a society characterized by effective plastic resource circulation. In the area of Innovation in Recycling, we are collaborating with other companies and organizations on the horizontal recycling of plastic packaging. Initiatives for which we are undertaking verification testing include the recycling of film packaging made using multiple different materials, which in the past has been considered difficult to recycle, as well as recycling of mono-material film packaging (which is made using a single material), and of mono-material bottle containers. We are also conducting demonstration testing for many other projects, including recycling of items other than packaging, such as used diapers.

By integrating ESG into the core of its company management, Kao will drive business growth and better serve consumers and society through its enhanced products and services. With this socially conscious ethos, Kao will create a Kirei life for all—providing care and enrichment for the life of all people and the planet.


About the Kirei Lifestyle Plan

Over the past 130 years, Kao has worked to improve people's lives and help them realize more sustainable lifestyles—a Kirei Lifestyle. The Japanese word 'kirei' describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, all at the same time. In the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, Kao lays out its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy that is designed to deliver this vision of a gentler and more sustainable way of living. By 2030, Kao aims to empower at least 1 billion people, to enjoy more beautiful lives and have 100% of its products leave a full lifecycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.
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Media inquiries should be directed to:

Corporate Strategy
Kao Corporation


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