Food Environments (Water and Forests)

The Kikkoman Group and "water"

Water-purification plant, Water Supply Division, Engineering Department, Kikkoman Shoyu Co. Ltd. (The business was transfered to Noda City in 1975.)
Water-purification plant, Water Supply Division, Engineering Department, Kikkoman Shoyu Co. Ltd. (The business was transfered to Noda City in 1975.)

"Water" is one of the determinant factors of the quality of Kikkoman Group’s products such as soy sauce. For the Kikkoman Group, "water" plays a critical role in producing products and its raw ingredients (agricultural produce). It is no exaggeration to state that the Kikkoman Group’s business is supported by "water."
Kikkoman has directed attention toward quality of water since its foundation. We dug a well in the plant and developed facilities to treat water on our own. With enhancements of these facilities, the factory realized an overproduction of clean water and started supplying water to houses in Noda City where the plant was located in 1923. This water supply business continued for 52 years until when it was transfered to Noda City in April 1975. Kikkoman was supplying water to 24,000 residents (5,740 households).
"Water" is precious social resources and we are aware that water conservation is a critical issue.

The Kikkoman Group pursues approaches diligently to make effective use of water and reduce environmental burdens.

Approaches to reduce water consumption

The Kikkoman Group has been striving to reduce the amount of water used in the production bases. We measure the amount of water used during the production activities and control the amount of water in total and per production unit. Based on these dates, we review the existing production processes and introduce more effective measures for saving water.

1)Reuse of cooling water

Hokkaido Kikkoman Co. thoroughly reuses the clean water used for cooling process to clean equipment in the plant with the aim of reducing the amount of water consumption per production unit. 

2)Reexamination of the humidification method in the koji making room

In FY2018, we reviewed the humidification method in the koji making room at Kikkoman Food Products Co. (First Production Department, Noda Plant) by changing the specification and layout of the equipment. This initiative resulted in reducing the amount of water used in this process by appx. 22,320㎥ per year. This measure is also expected to reduce the use of electricity by shortening the operating hours of compressors.

Round bed koji production room (First Production Department, Noda Factory, Kikkoman Food Products Company)

Inside of the circular koji making room (First Production Department, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co.)

3)Improvement of the CIP cleaning program for plate heaters

In 2022, we reviewed the "rinsing" and "washing" processes in the CIP cleaning program (in-place cleaning process) at Kikkoman Food Products Co. (Second Production Department, Noda Plant) and found the possibility of reducing the amount of water for washing process. Therefore, after investigating the amount of water used in each process, the program was reexamined from the sight of optimization and efficiency in cooperation with the chemical manufacturer for the CIP. As a result, we succeeded in reducing water usage by 56% and process time by 69 minutes.

Round bed koji production room (First Production Department, Noda Factory, Kikkoman Food Products Company)

A plate heater (Second Production Department, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co.)

4)Reduction of water consumption by improving equipment capacity and optimizing the use of cooling and cleaning water

In 2022, employees in charge of ISO in Kikkoman Foodtech Co., Ltd. (Nishinippon Plant) held discussions to optimize the amount of water used there. They promoted efficiency improvement and waste reduction in some processes such as mixing tanks, cooling valves and line cleaning, resulting in reducing the water usage by 3,800㎥compared to FY2020.

Approaches to conserve the water environments

Being strongly aware of the critical importance of conserving the water environments, the Kikkoman Group is keen on conserving the water environments around its producing bases  by setting its own water quality standards (stricter than the legal ones) for the wastewater generated in producing activities, including Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), reviewing the producing process and machineries, and implementing effective measures.

The wastewater treatment facility in the Kikkoman Food Products Co. (Second Production Department, Noda Plant) improved its wastewater processing by installing an ozone reactor in October 2013 to purify the treated water even further before discharging into the river.

Ozone generator (Second Production Department, Noda Factory, Kikkoman Food Products Company)
Ozone generator
(Second Production Department, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co.)
Ozone reactor (Second Production Department, Noda Factory, Kikkoman Food Products Company)
Ozone reactor
(Second Production Department, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co.)

The Kikkoman Group has participated in Tokyo Bay General Survey for Water Environment held by Tokyo Bay Renaissance Promotion Conference's Monitoring Subcommittee every year since FY2009. This survey is intended for Tokyo Bay and rivers/lakes that flow into Tokyo Bay as well as facilities on the coast for the purpose of elucidating the contamination mechanism in Tokyo Bay. The Kikkoman Group conducts water quality surveys on water released from our wastewater treatment facility by the Edogawa River and provides the results.

Water quality survey on released water (treated water) (Nagareyama Kikkoman Co., Ltd. in August 2019)

Water quality survey on wastewater (treated water) (Third Production Department’s lagoon, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co., in August 2023)

(Kikkoman Food Products Company’s Noda Factory in August 2019)

 (Third Production Department’s lagoon, Noda Plant, Kikkoman Food Products Co., in August 2023)

Approaches in the offices

The Kikkoman Noda Head Office building constructed in 1999 was designed to be an "environmentally sustainable office." In keeping with the goal of maintaining harmony with the natural environment and lowering environmental loads, various advanced technological devices are employed.
In the open yard between the Office Building and the Conference Room Building is Water Garden which has a pond for storing rain water as a way to maintain a secure water resource in case of need and to create a pleasing landscape.

Conference Room Building and Water Garden
Conference Room Building and Water Garden
Wild spotbill ducks appeared at Water Garden
Wild spotbill ducks appeared at Water Garden

Support for Water Resource Conservation Initiatives

The Kikkoman Group supports water environment conservation activities by local governments and NGO groups to help solve water problems in regions such as the U.S., Singapore, and the Netherlands, where our production bases are located.

KFI, our production subsidiary in the U.S., established the charitable foundation, Kikkoman Foods Foundation Inc. in 1993. Through this foundation, KFI has been donating to local educational institutions and disaster relief activities.

 In 2013, as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the first shipping from KFI, the foundation made a US$1 million contribution to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The purpose of the contribution was to establish the Kikkoman Healthy Waters Environmental Health Laboratories for School of Freshwater Sciences to advance a study regarding water resources.

Building of laboratories
Building of laboratories
Sign of laboratories
Sign of laboratories

In June 2023, for the 50th anniversary of KFI's grand opening in 1973, the KFI announced a donation to the University of Wisconsin totaling $5 million to aid their research programs related to sustainable agriculture and fresh water. The KFI will donate $3 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to support the research programs dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of agriculture including soybean and wheat. Additionally, a donation of $2 million will be allocated to Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences, aiding the construction and operation of an advanced research vessel, specifically designed for the Great Lakes.

Both research funds underscore the KFI's commitment to conserving the invaluable natural resources that have been instrumental to its success since its establishment.

 

Other production bases also support local water resource conservation initiatives; Kikkoman (S) PTE LTD (KSP) supported the creation of Kingfisher Lake in Singapore, and Kikkoman Foods Europe B.V. (KFE), the water quality improvement project of Lake Zuidlaardermeer in Groningen state, the Netherlands, respectively.

Engagement with suppliers

The Kikkoman Group procures soybeans and wheat that are raw ingredients of soy sauce mainly from North America. Since North America is no exception where water environments are perceived as issues, we have strengthened our engagement with our major suppliers of agricultural produce to conserve and improve water environments.
In FY2014, we visited our major suppliers of soybeans that are the main raw ingredient of soy sauce to explain our business policies and conduct a dialog. Through the dialog, we recognized soybean farmers’ approaches to conserve environments in the Midwestern United States where the main procurement source of soybeans is. We also gathered information on necessary water resources to cultivate soybeans and exchanged opinions on a medium- to longer-term impact of climate change on water resources.

Signing of United Nations CEO Water Mandate

The Kikkoman Group is the first Japanese enterprise that signed The CEO Water Mandate in June 2015.
The CEO Water Mandate is a private-public initiative that grew out of a partnership between the United Nations Global Compact, the Government of Sweden, and six committed international enterprises and launched at the Leaders Summit held in Geneva in 2007. (The Kikkoman group participated in the United Nations Global Compact in January 2001.) The Mandate is an international commitment platform regarding policies, practice, and information disclosure on a wide range of activities to conserve the sustainability of water. CEOs of endorsing enterprises sign the Mandate to commit to advance water stewardship as a member of international partners of water resource conservation.

Participation in the Ministry of the Environment's Water Project

In 2015, the Kikkoman Group participated in the Water Project hosted by the Ministry of the Environment.
Based on the Basic Act on Water Cycle enacted in 2014, the Ministry of the Environment proposes a sound water cycle (JAPAN Water Style) to conserve, use, and return sound water. The Water Project is for enterprises and organizations that actively address such water cycle conservation and recovery to transmit information on their approaches and raise public awareness about the water cycle.

Introduction of conservation activities

1)Activity introduction at CDP conference event

"CDP Water Security Report 2021 x Water Project" was co-hosted online by the Ministry of the Environment and CDP (an international environmental NGO) in February 2022. This was intended to raise awareness among enterprises and municipalities about importance of a sound water cycle. At the conference, the results of CDP corporate scores on addressing water risk were announced and leading enterprises’ approaches to water security were introduced.
Kikkoman participated in the panel discussions with Meiji Holdings CO., Ltd. as one of leading enterprises. Our general manager of the Environment Department introduced our activities and management for the water environment based on Kikkoman Group’s Environmental policies and Environmental long-term vision.

2)A lecture at Nagoya Industrial Water Supply Conference

The Nagoya Industrial Water Supply Conference offers opportunities for enterprises that use Aichi industrial water and Aichi Public Enterprise Bureau that manages the water to exchange opinions on stable water usage. It also invites an enterprise that has outstanding achievements in water risk management to its annual general meeting. Kikkoman was invited to speak at the meeting in 2022.
General manager of the Environment Department attended the general meeting in June. He explained that addressing environmental issues was an important part of our management activities. He also introduced our corporate stance to fit environmental activities in business and our specific approaches to conserve water and environments, including actual circumstances from water risk control to control of other various environmental risks.

Utilization of external evaluation systems

The Kikkoman Group actively takes part in surveys conducted by external organizations and uses evaluations on its environmental conservation activities to improve them.
We utilize external evaluation provided by CDP, which is a non-profit organization that motivates enterprises to disclose their approaches to address environmental issues such as climate change, greenhouse gas reduction, water resource conservation, and forest conservation and their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them. CDP asks relatively large capitalization value enterprises in major countries for responses, evaluates and scores the results, and discloses them.
The Kikkoman Group has been responding to the CDP Water Security Questionnaire since 2017 and utilizing the result as a tool to understand a level of its approaches on environmental conservation activities, especially on a reduction in water consumption and conservation of water resources and water environments through business activities, from objective and global perspectives.

CDP™ DISCLOSURE INSIGHT ACTION

According to the evaluation result in CDP Water Security Report in 2023, the Kikkoman group is classified as a leadership level and acquired the A List. 

CDP™ DISCLOSURE INSIGHT ACTION A LIST 2019 WATER

Among nine of the eleven evaluation items we received an "A" score, including "Quantitative and qualitative goals" and "Water accounting".

The Kikkoman Group keeps raising our sights and pursuing conservation of food environments.