PET Bottles Abolished at Sumitomo Riko in Attempt to Improve Environmental Issues

Rubber manufacturer, Sumitomo Riko Co. Ltd made the decision to abolish sales of PET bottled beverages within the company from the middle of February, with the aim of improving their own environmental initiatives and raising their employee awareness of the current global situation.

Marine pollution from plastic waste has become a huge environmental problem in recent years, with the World Economic Forum of 2016 estimating that the total weight of plastics in the world’s oceans would exceed the total weight of fish in the same oceans by 2050. At the G20 Summit held in 2019, the vision to eliminate new pollution by 2050 was shared amongst the world leaders, with Japan also setting it’s own goal to reduce its cumulative disposable plastic emissions by 25% by 2030.

Source: Kyodo Newswire

In order to tackle marine pollution caused by plastic waste, Sumitomo Riko has ditched sales of plastic PET bottled beverages and has begun “de-plasticizing” it’s workplace by switching to aluminium cans wherever possible.

The company reported that an average of 780 bottles a month and about 10,000 bottles a year accumulated at the global headquarters and that it now aims to achieve “zero use” of PET bottles in the near future. They estimate that the scheme will reduce plastic use by 80g per 500ml PET bottle and CO2 emissions by 748kg per year. Following the elimination of the plastics, they will be promoting the use of in-house tea and coffee machines and reusable bottles amongst their staff.

The plan is set to start at the global headquarters in Aichi Prefecture, and will eventually be put in place across all Sumitomo Riko Japanese branches by 2030, meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) target deadline.

The company states by starting with small steps that are easy for each of their employees to participate in, they will be able to expand their contribution to society through their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and other business activities. Sumitomo Riko announced “We aim to be a company that contributes to safety, comfort and the environment.”

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The SDGs describe international goals for sustainable development from 2016 to 2030 and was adopted by the United Nations Summit during 2015. The goals are a follow up and an evolution of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) that were formulated in 2001. The SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets for a sustainable world, with the United Nations Member States pledging that “no one will be left behind”. Further information regarding the SDGs and what they hope to achieve can be found here.

Sumitomo Riko hopes that by creating a plastic-free environment that they will promote the following SDGs;

  • Goal 11 Creating Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Goal 12 Responsible Consumption and production
  • Goal 14 Life Below Water
  • Source: Kyodo Newswire

    In addition to the abolition of PET plastic bottles, the Sumitomo Riko head office and factories have managed to eliminate the use of plastic spoons in their cafeterias since July of last year. Following the decision, approximately 2,600 plastic spoons were replaced each month with paper spoons, which should reduce the amount of plastic by about 30kg and the amount of CO2 by about 110kg per year.

    By - Connie Sceaphierde.