Food Environments (Water and Forests)
The Kikkoman group and "water"
"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 factory 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 factory 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 water consumption at the production bases (factories and plants) by measuring the water consumption during production, managing the water consumption and water consumption per unit of production, reviewing the existing producing processes, and introducing effective measures for such reduction.
For example, Hokkaido Kikkoman Company strictly reuses the clean water used for cooling in the producing process to cleanse equipment and others in the plant as a means to reduce water consumption per unit of production.
In addition, at First Production Department, Noda Factory, Kikkoman Food Products Company in FY2018, we reviewed the humidification method in the room to produce soy sauce koji and modified device specifications and placement. This resulted in reducing water consumption in this process by appx. 22,320m³ per year. At the same time, there is the prospect that these measures will reduce power consumption through a reduction in operating time of the compressor and reduce CO₂ emission, too.
In addition, improvements in the method to clean the filling equipment used to pack products such as wine, liqueur such as plum wine, and processed wine into containers in June 2016 resulted in reducing water consumption for cleaning by 57m³ per year as well as reducing fuel (heavy fuel oil) used to heat the wash water. This also resulted in a reduction in CO₂ emissions.
At Nippon Del Monte Corporation’s Gunma Plant, we used to clean the1-ton containers by the CIP method one by one. The containers were used for commercial products. In April 2016, however, we started using a booster pump to apply pressure to the wash water that has been used for the first container and using it to clean the second container. This change in the cleaning method resulted in an appx. 2,500m³ reduction in water consumption per year. Also, a reduction in fuel consumption used to heat wash water resulted in reducing appx. 60t-CO₂ per year.
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 (factories and plants) 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.
For example, the wastewater treatment facility in the Second Production Department of Noda Factory of Kikkoman Food Products Company improved its wastewater processing by installing an ozone reactor in October 2013 to purify the treated water even further before discharging into the river.
Kikkoman Biochemifa Company’s Edogawa Plant that produces biotechnology products such as enzymes processes wastewater discharged from its plant in the wastewater treatment facility within its property and releases it to the public sewage. Because the quality of the processed water was high and stable, the Edogawa Plant began re-using the water to wash the filter cloth of the sludge dewatering equipment in March 2017. The water consumption at the plant was reduced by appx. 850m³ per year.
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.
Approaches in 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.
Support to establish a water resource research institute by KFI
The Kikkoman group has producing bases in the USA, the Netherlands and Singapore. At these bases, we support water environment conservation activities that are conducted by local governments and NGOs in order to make contributions to solve water issues.
KFI 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.
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 FY2017 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.
According to the evaluation result in CDP Water Security Report in FY2022, the Kikkoman group is classified as a leadership level and acquired an A- score. (The global average, the Asian regional average, and the food industry average are all B-.)
The Kikkoman group keeps raising our sights and pursuing conservation of food environments.