Kao delivers an annual average of 40 products per household in Japan. Through the packaging for these products, we aim to offer lifestyle comfort as well as environmental friendliness.
Refill products have become a fixture of everyday life in Japan. Refill products are less expensive than their standard counterparts and allow consumers to use to the original product container. The refill product packaging can be rolled into small and compact size after refilling containers, and this leads to help to reduce household waste.
Kao's first refill product was launched in 1991. The number of refill products has grown year after year, reaching 289 products as of December 2017. After various product improvements, we launched our new refill packaging in 2016, which offers easier container refilling with little residual waste. The new refill packaging has been adopted in several brands that offer personal care products used in the bathroom.
We have also launched the Smart Holder, in which the new refill packages can be inserted and used without needing the conventional product container. With its slim body, Smart Holder also helps de-clutter the bathroom of bottles to create a neat and tidy appearance. Several designs can be selected in order to add personalized style to personal care routine.
Many product containers are made of plastic, which is primarily derived from petroleum. Petroleum-based plastic is difficult to recycle and closely linked to environmental problems, namely global warming from the carbon dioxide that is produced when they are burned. We are therefore working to reduce the amount of petroleum-based plastics used by offering refill products.
Pouches for refill products greatly reduce the amount of plastic used compared with the conventional standard product containers. As an example, the increased use of refill products reduced our plastic use by 907,000 tons in 2017. Switching the raw materials for packaging to plant-based substances is another way to reduce the use of petroleum-based plastics. The new refill packaging uses 15% plant-based plastics by container weight.
If environmentally friendly packaging is not convenient to use, consumers would not make a habit of using it. The new refill packaging is compact and easy to store, with a shape that does not easily fall over. The pour spout fits snugly over the product container's opening for added stability and to prevent spills when refilling, making the packaging easier to use. It can also be used together with the Smart Holder to save time by eliminating the need to refill containers all together.
Consumers can choose the container that fits their style to make their personal care routine more fun while being environmentally friendly as well.
Kao products are used in many other areas of the home in addition to the bathroom. The new refill packaging and Smart Holder will continue to evolve through our cycle of improvements. Comfortable living can in fact be eco living. We are working toward this future through a variety of product packaging.
Many refill products can be found on store shelves in Japan, but they are less common in other countries. We want to reduce our use of plastic to make more efficient use of precious resources. This is one reason why we intend to increase the use of this futuristic packaging around the world.