Contributing to Realization of a Circular Economy
Aims of Establishing Renewable Resources Business Development Department
Laboratory of Anellotech (New York, U.S.)
In recent years, there has been an urgent need to address environmental issues, such as reducing plastic waste and petroleum-based raw materials. Recognizing these issues from the outset, the Toyobo Group has long adopted a broad vision in our continued search for new technologies. One such example is a technology that creates polyester raw materials from wood. Anellotech Inc., a U.S. biochemical venture company is currently developing this technology. The Toyobo Group has joined forces with Anellotech Inc., Suntory Group and many other international companies to initiate a project to develop a 100% biobased PET bottle. We are also collaborating with Dutch chemical technology company Avantium N.V. (See “Key development topics” on the right).
To further accelerate these initiatives and contribute to creating a sustainable society, in April 2020 we established the Renewable Resources Business Development Department. Based on the slogan “Catalyzing Circular Economy,” we will fulfill our responsibility as a plastics manufacturer and contribute to the realization of a circular economy.
To ensure that the materials the Toyobo Group provides are sustainable, we are promoting the use of biobased and recycled materials. As well as in-house development, we will continue to search for related technologies around the world.
While we pursue company-wide cross-divisional cooperation, we will collaborate with external organizations and companies as we commercialize our products.
We have drawn up a roadmap to 2030—while also looking towards 2050—based on government policies in Japan and overseas, as well as environmental industry targets. In collaboration with our partners worldwide, we aim to shift to biobased products focused on polyester resin, and to establish technologies related to material and chemical recycling. Working closely with each Solutions division, we will also adapt flexibly to changes in the business environment.
Key Development Topics in FY2021
Food packaging film made from 100% biobased resin
The high-performance polyester Polyethylene Furanoate (PEF) is created through polymerization of Avantium’s biobased raw materials with Toyobo’s unique technology. Compared to conventional PET films, PEF films made from 100% biobased resin have an oxygen barrier efficiency 10 times higher, while water vapor barrier efficiency is twice as high. Drawing on this superior barrier performance, we are expanding into the market, focused on food packaging film.
Development of catalyst with enhanced PET recyclability
TOYOBO GS Catalyst®, a polymerization catalyst developed by Toyobo, is the world’s first aluminum catalyst.
The catalyst is more environmentally sound: it does not contain any heavy metals and the obtained PET resin does not deteriorate when melted, making it well suited to recycling.
Toyobo has already licensed this technology to Thailand’s Indorama Ventures Public Company Ltd., the world’s largest PET resin manufacturer. With the excellent recyclability of the produced PET resin, we will develop this business globally in cooperation with Indorama.
TOYOBO GS Catalyst® (front) enables synthesis of resins with higher transparency than other catalysts
PET bottles synthesized using TOYOBO GS Catalyst®
Establishment of JV company to create used plastic recycling business
Anellotech’s technological development has enabled a new technology to efficiently recycle a wide variety of used plastics. Following this, in June 2020 the joint venture company R Plus Japan, Ltd. was established by a group of 12 companies operating in Japan’s plastics value chain, which includes Toyobo. We intend to push forward with development of the used plastic recycling business, utilizing this new technology.
Participating in Initiatives
The Toyobo Group is working closely with a variety of companies and organizations, and is active in a number of initiatives aimed at contributing to the construction of a plastics value chain that is appropriate to the era of the circular economy.
Japan BioPlastics Association
This group was established in 1989 with the aim of promoting the use of bioplastics*, and establishing a testing and evaluation system. An executive from Toyobo serve as Vice Chairman, and are active in the association's activities including participation in executive meetings and various committees.
- * Collective term for biodegradable and biomass plastics
CLOMA (Clean Ocean Material Alliance)
CLOMA is an organization established in Japan with the aim of increasing the effective use of marine plastic waste through reductions and recycling. Its members include more than 350 companies throughout the supply chain involved in the manufacturing, processing, and use of packaging and other materials. Toyobo has been a member of the alliance since it was established in 2019.
CEFLEX (Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging)
Established in 2017, CEFLEX is a consortium that promotes the realization of a circular economy through the use of flexible packaging. This includes more than 130 companies and organizations involved in the flexible packaging value chain, including leading materials manufacturers and recycling companies. Its goals include establishing by 2025 a Europe-wide collection, sorting, and reprocessing infrastructure for used flexible packaging. The Toyobo Group joined CEFLEX in August 2019. While understanding the latest information and trends regarding recovery systems and regulations, we will focus on developing and supplying eco-friendly technologies and products to contribute to the realization of a circular economy.
Petcore Europe is a consortium of more than 80 companies and organizations spanning the entire value chain of European PET-related companies. The Toyobo Group joined Petcore Europe in January 2020. We will take this opportunity of participating in Petcore Europe to further focus on the development and provision of sustainable PET products and technologies, and work towards contributing to the realization of a circular economy that is friendly to people and the earth.