Improving Containers and Packaging
Efforts by the Kikkoman Group
In March 2008, the Kikkoman Group stipulated the “Kikkoman’s Guidelines for Containers and Packaging” to clarify the Group’s attitude toward enhancing convenience and safety for customers, and reducing impact on the environment by reducing container and package weight, and recycling.
[Kikkoman’s Guidelines for Containers and Packaging]
The Kikkoman Group will procure, develop, and merchandise containers and packaging with low environmental impact that are suitable for production, transportation, storage, and sales, and which are also safe and easy for consumers to use.
Reduce weight of containers and packaging.
Introduce and use returnable containers and packaging for our products.
Consider applying shapes, designs, and materials to containers and packaging that facilitate sorted collection and reuse. Promote repackaging current products in new containers and packaging in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations of each country.
Make greater use of sustainable resources.
Increase procurement from environmentally conscious suppliers and vendors.
Use materials with chemical compositions and shapes that have been verified as safe for humans.
Collect customer feedback and information regarding where and how they purchase and use our products and incorporate it into the development of new containers and packaging.
Strive to develop new containers and packaging.
Develop containers and packaging with universal designs to make them easy to use for a diverse range of customers.
The Kikkoman Group established the Containers and Packaging Committee (chaired by the Senior Executive Corporate Officer) that consists of related sectors including production, equipment, logistics, development, procurement and environment, and which has been working hard to solve problems in container- and packaging-related environmental issues.
Soy sauce is a traditional Japanese seasoning that in the past would be contained in such ceramics as jars, pots and bottles, and wooden barrels. Later glass bottles were used starting in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and metal cans were used starting in the Taisho period (1912-1926). Currently polyethylene terephthalate (commonly abbreviated PET) bottles are mainly used for soy sauce.
PET bottles feature strong insulation against oxygen and resistance to shock (difficult to damage), as well as high transparency. Kikkoman began using PET bottles as soy sauce containers in February 1977, becoming the first to adopt PET containers in the domestic food industry.
Even after adopting the use of PET bottles, and in cooperation with a resin molding manufacturer, Kikkoman has endeavored to enhance their properties, such as thinner bottles (reduced amount of materials to be used and lighter weight), strength, quality-retention capacity, and recyclability.
For example, in FY2015, Kikkoman succeeded to a 5.6% reduction in the weight of 1.8-L Handy PET bottles for Kikkoman Soy Sauce and Kikkoman Light-Colored (Usukuchi) Soy Sauce, by making thinner bottles without decreasing their strength. And in FY2016 Kikkoman succeeded in a 12.5% reduction in the weight of 500-ml bottles for Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce.
PET bottles discarded after use in homes are generally collected by local municipalities, sold to recycle dealers, and then processed into PET-resin pellets (or flakes) that are reused as raw materials for various products including containers (such as egg cartons), clothing, and stationery.
Kikkoman is also focused on ways to make caps and product labels easy to remove using non-PET-materials for PET bottles to facilitate the recovery of resources.
As part of these efforts, in FY2000 Kikkoman developed and introduced the Easy-to-Remove Cap (Eco-Cap®) (Trademark Registration No. 4319133), an improved cap with an easier-to-remove mouth plug, followed by its continuous pursuit of “easier-to-use” and “easier-to-remove” functionalities that brought about improvements in cap shape and specifications in FY2003 and FY2009. In FY2001, the product labels were improved by using glue to facilitate easier removal by hand.
The soft plastic tabletop bottle, named “Yawaraka Mippu Bottle,” is considered as a next-generation container. The bottle has the special function to keep the color, taste, scent of the soy sauce fresh at room temperature for 90 days after opening and to be able to pour soy sauce freely from one drop to necessary amounts. The weight of the bottle is 33g, which is much lighter than the conventional glass tabletop bottle (159g). In August 2011, the Kikkoman Group has released a raw soy sauce product named “Itsudemo-Shinsen Shiboritate Nama-shoyu” using this bottle in Japan.
In addition, the following improvements were added to the bottle in FY2018.
The main material of the new bottle was changed from polyethylene to polyethylene terephthalate.
A product label and a cap which can be removed easily were adopted in the new bottle, for recycling purpose.
The weight of the new bottle became 10% lighter.
With these improvements, the new bottle that was named “Mippu Eco Bottle” also has a high recycling function. From February 2018, the new products using this bottle were introduced.
“Mippu Eco Bottle” was awarded "The Japan Marketing Association Director’s Award” in Japan Packaging Contest 2018 held by the Japan Packaging Institute, in August 2018.
Activities on containers and packaging are compiled in the Kikkoman Group Environmental Preservation Activities Case Book.