SAP at Globe Series: Procurement to Build Back Better

A demonstration trial including the participation of general consumers to verify the value of traceability in the recycling of plastic bottles

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”), ITOCHU Plastics Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Hidenori Hayashi, President & CEO; hereinafter “CIPS”), FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Kensuke Hosomi, Representative Director and President; hereinafter “FamilyMart”) and Asahi Kasei Corporation (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Koshiro Kudo, President; hereinafter “Asahi Kasei”) announced today that they reached an agreement on the conducting of a demonstration trial (hereinafter “the Trial”) on recycling of plastic beverage bottles with the use of a prototyped traceability system at real FamilyMart store under the BLUE Plastics project. BLUE in the project’s name is an acronym for Blockchain Loop to Unlock the value of the circular Economy. The goal of this project is the construction of a digital platform for the establishment of a resource-recycling society. The first Trial is scheduled in fall 2022 or later.

1. Background

Actions to enable the reuse of plastics as resources are encouraged and the utilization of recycled plastics is gathering momentum. On the other hand, it has been difficult for consumers to learn about the chain for recycling used plastics and about what products are derived from collected used plastics. The recycling of collected plastics into products used for the same application, called closed-loop recycling, is another key issue to be addressed for the recirculation of resources. Asahi Kasei launched the BLUE Plastics Project in 2021 with a view toward creating a digital platform to accelerate resource recirculation. Leveraging blockchain technologies, the goals of this platform are to prevent data falsification in the recycling chain and to ensure traceability.
By conducting the Trial, Asahi Kasei, FamilyMart, ITOCHU and CIPS will investigate whether or not the visualization of the plastic bottle recycling chain that starts at convenience stores will change consumers’ behaviors and what impact it will have on the reuse of recycled plastics and assess the value of the traceability.

2. Outline of the Trial

Consumers will put used plastic bottles into collection boxes at FamilyMart store participating in the Trial. When they do so, they scan the two-dimensional code printed on the collection box using their smartphone to record the number of bottles placed in the collection box on the smartphone app. This enables consumers to view the progress of the bottles they have placed in the collection box in the recycling chain after collection. This is supported by traceability achieved using blockchain technologies.

Purpose Operate a traceable system for recycling used plastic bottles to examine hypotheses about changes in consumers’ behaviors and the effect of the system and to identify issues involved in the implementation of the system in society
Period Fall 2022 or later
Locations Selected FamilyMart stores in the 23 wards of Tokyo
Role of each company Asahi Kasei: Planning and design of the Trial and provision of a prototype traceability system
FamilyMart: Consideration, implementation and verification of the Trial using real stores
ITOCHU and CIPS: Support and collaboration for implementation of the traceability system in society

3. Actions of individual companies

ITOCHU

ITOCHU has defined “enhancing its contribution to and engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” and “realizing business transformation by shifting to a market-oriented perspective” as basic policies in its medium-term management plan. It will create a new business model in the field of plastic recycling by actively using the Group’s networks in Japan and abroad to pursue the establishment of a recycling-oriented society for the sustainable development of the world.

CIPS

CIPS’s environmental policy reads, “corporate activities that aim to achieve a better balance between better global environment and economic growth by providing reliable materials.” It will strive to conduct trading business activities that propose more environmentally-friendly products and to develop new raw materials and applications for them for the realization of a sustainable society.

FamilyMart

To help realize a sustainable society, FamilyMart is carrying out activities in accordance with its basic policy of “addressing the SDGs in its original way,” stated in its medium-term management plan with a view toward the achievement of its quantifiable goals in the three categories of reducing greenhouse gases, measures to address plastics and the reduction of food waste, which are defined as medium-to long-term environmental goals in the FamilyMart Environmental Vision 2050. As part of its measures to address plastics, FamilyMart uses recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin containers for its salads and cold noodle meals. Since July 2021, it has been using recycled plastic bottles made of 100% bottle-to-bottle recycled PET resin for its private-branded mineral water. Through a wide variety of measures including the above, FamilyMart aims to increase the percentage of materials that it uses in it’s original items that are environmentally friendly to 60% in 2030 and 100% in 2050.

Asahi Kasei

Asahi Kasei is endeavoring to develop a comprehensive digital platform that will be open broadly to the businesses involved in the recycling chain and to consumers. Asahi Kasei believes that to achieve resource recirculation in society it is necessary to visualize the plastic recycling chain to provide an environment where recycled plastics can be used, while it is difficult for a single company acting alone to solve social issues that require ensuring both resource recirculation and convenience.

ITOCHU, CIPS, FamilyMart and Asahi Kasei will carry out a series of activities including the Trial to verify the value of traceability ensured by the digital platform and to push further ahead with the recirculation of plastic resources.

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