Sustainability Activities

Sustainability Activities

Each division company has started some businesses that contribute to SDGs. Achievements of SDGs through our business activities represent ITOCHU's sustainability "Sampo-yoshi".

Plant Project, Marine & Aerospace Division Urban Environmental & Power Infrastructure Department  June 2020ITOCHU's Waste Management
Business Combining the SDGs and
"Sampo-yoshi"

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Vinča Dumpsite

ITOCHU's Initiatives to Protect the Environment from 2.01 Billion Tonnes of Waste

Do you know that around 2.01 billion tons of municipal waste—enough to fill Tokyo Dome approximately 5,400 times—are generated globally each year?(*1) At least 33 percent of this waste either goes uncollected or goes directly into landfills without being incinerated or properly treated, creating literal mountains of garbage. The gases produced in these mountains of rotting waste can spontaneously combust, starting fires. The waste can also become a source of toxic substances that leech out and contaminate lakes, waterways and groundwater, negatively affecting the health of nearby communities and ecosystems. Due to rapid urbanization and population growth, mainly in emerging countries, annual global waste is projected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes over the next 30 years. To protect the environment of the Earth, our home, addressing the challenge posed by waste is thus an urgent and unavoidable problem.

Waste management is normally considered as a role of a public sector such as state government and municipality, but ITOCHU has been working on the agenda how we could contribute to address this global waste management challenges as a private company, which is so central to human life. One answer to this question as ITOCHU is energy-from-waste business under public-private partnership, an area in which ITOCHU has been taking major initiatives for a long time.
The energy-from-waste entails properly managing and incinerating municipal solid waste and utilizing the thermal energy thus obtained to generate electricity or for heating. This not only helps to solve waste disposal problems, but, by utilizing waste to generate clean energy, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through public-private partnerships, ITOCHU is working with local governments, providing effective technologies and know-how from project development, design, construction and operation as well as efficient fund-raising and business operations.

—Circular Mechanism in Energy-from-Waste Business—

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In the United Kingdom, ITOCHU is involved as a developer, investor, and operator in 4 energy-from-waste projects for municipal governments. In aggregate, these projects treat around 1.3 million tonnes of waste annually, accounting for roughly 15% of the UK's waste incineration market and generating enough electricity to power 160,000 British households. Currently, in the Central European country of Serbia, we are working with the government, international financial institutions, and other partners to advance initiatives aimed at solving some of the region's biggest environmental and social problems.

Saving the Danube from a Mountain of Waste

Belgrade, a beautiful city full of greenery reputed to be the oldest metropolis in Europe, is the capital of Serbia and home to a population of 1.7 million. Just a short distance from the city center, however, a serious problem that threatened not only Serbia, but the entire region, was rapidly developing.

In Belgrade, for more than 40 years all municipal solid waste collected from homes and retail facilities has been transported to the Vinča dumpsite, just 12 km from the city center, and buried as-is, untreated. Since the site was established in 1977, the accumulated waste from the capital has grown into a colossal mountain situated right next to the Danube, a river that flows through several countries. In recent years, the volume of waste has grown rapidly, due in part to urbanization, and landslides on this mountain have begun to carry waste ever closer to the river. Large-scale fires are frequent, and methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as well as contaminated water constantly seep out of the decades of accumulated waste, flowing directly into the Danube and putting the environment of the beautiful city and river in peril.

The Serbian government and ITOCHU with a number of partner companies have stepped up to solve this problem.

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Beautiful cityscape in the center of Belgrade
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Vinča Dumpsite—World's 50 largest/Europe's largest open dumpsite(*2) holding more than 10 million tonnes of waste after four decades of operation (the body of landfill itself has an area of 42 ha/a height of 50-80 m)

Creating Solutions with the Serbian Government and International Partners

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Construction site for energy-from-waste facility

The Serbian national government and the city of Belgrade appointed the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, as an advisor and decided to implement a public-private partnership scheme to solve the problem of the Vinča dumpsite efficiently and with minimal burden on the city's finances. In 2017, a consortium of ITOCHU, France-based SUEZ and European fund MARGUERITE was awarded this waste management and resource recovery project following an international tender and established the project company to invest, and in September 2019 achieved financial close for EUR 290 million loan facility in project financing from the IFC, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (the Development Bank of Austria).
The consortium is now moving forward with the construction of new waste management facilities including energy-from-waste facility, demolition waste recycling unit and engineered landfill with biogas recovery and water treatment unit, which it will operate for 25 years following their completion.

Under this project, the existing mountain of waste will be properly processed and converted into a green space. The methane gas that until now has been a factor in environmental degradation will be captured and used, alongside the waste itself, as a source of energy to generate heat and electricity. The project will greatly reduce the amount of buried waste while supplying enough electricity to power 30,000 homes in Belgrade and providing heat in winter. Over a period of 25 years, the clean, fossil fuel-free power from the project will reduce CO2 emissions approximately 4 million tonnes, while the reduction in landfill waste will realize an additional greenhouse gas emission reduction equivalent to approximately 3 million tonnes CO2. Furthermore, the contaminated water that previously drained into the Danube will be purified at water treatment facility before being discharged, helping to solve environmental and social problems in and around Belgrade.
This business forms the core of Serbia's environmental and waste management policy going forward. We at ITOCHU hope that it will serve as a starting point for deep-reaching change in Serbia's waste management systems, the ways that citizens think about waste, and recycling initiatives.

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Mr. Sinisa Mali, Minister of Finance, Republic of Serbia, and former Mayor of Belgrade

"We are pleased to have ITOCHU, with its valuable experience and expertise, as our partner in this initiative to solve one of the biggest ecological and social problems in Serbia using innovative approaches. I am confident that this project will serve as a model for other countries and regions facing similar challenges."

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of our partners in this project, has created web content vividly depicting conditions at the Vinča dumpsite, the largest open dumpsite in Europe, the serious threat of environmental degradation it poses and our challenge.

Creating Businesses that Generate Value for the Environment and Society—Aiming for Sustainable Growth

To achieve sustainable growth, incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into corporate management and creating businesses that contribute to solve global sustainability challenges is crucial. At the base of this, all is the spirit of "Sampo-yoshi"—"good for the seller, good for the buyer, and good for society"—, which is ITOCHU's corporate mission derived from the words of founder Chubei Itoh. Today, our corporate roots of "Sampo-yoshi" is relevant to the SDGs and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations, and in particular "good for society" represents our firm belief that ITOCHU creates businesses that surely contribute to the betterment of global society and environment.
The waste management project in Serbia is contributing to the realization of the 6 SDGs shown below and is a prime example of our initiative that helps achieve to sustainable growth through business.

[SDGs Logo]

Through this project and by continuing to take on new challenges to solve environmental and social issues, ITOCHU aims to fulfill its corporate guideline of conduct "I am One with Infinite Missions" as a leading ESG company and contribute to the realization of sustainable communities and the reduction of environmental burden in the world.

  1. *1Estimate for 2016—World Bank: "What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050."
  2. *2International Solid Waste Association: "A Roadmap for Closing Waste Dumpsite - The World’s Most Polluted Places, 2016"
(Reference) About Beo Čista Energija
Beo Čista Energija Ltd. is a company formed and sponsored by ITOCHU, SUEZ and MARGUERITE to execute a 25 years public private partnership contract with the city of Belgrade. Please see their website for more details.[Open in a new window]

Energy Division Oil & Gas Upstream Business Development Department  June 2020Social contribution activities in Republic of Azerbaijan

Material Issues: Address Climate Change (Contribute to Realization of a Low-Carbon Society)

ITOCHU Corporation is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary, ITOCHU Oil Exploration (Azerbaijan) Inc., made the following social contribution activities:

  1. Contributing to reduction of greenhouse gas emission promoted by the Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we set up pilot plants of mini solar power station in two national parks under the jurisdiction of the same ministry.
  2. Having agreed with the intent of environmental conservation, we sponsored the Green Art Exhibition-Contest held by ASAN (The State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan). The art contest was presented by 104 young artists representing the future generation on the theme of "Fighting with climate change", and many people visited National Art Museum of Azerbaijan, venue of the contest.

We, Itochu Group, will continue to promote efforts toward environmentally friendly regional energy use.

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Pilot plant of mini solar power station in
Gizil-Agach National Park
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Pilot plant of mini solar power station in
Shirvan National Park
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Green Art Exhibition Contest at National Art Museum of Azerbaijan