Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Inc. participates in the demonstration trial project for recycling plastic bottles at FamilyMart

Achieving the whole process of traceability of recycling from collecting to final product

June 8, 2023

ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU), ITOCHU Plastics Inc. (CIPS), FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (FamilyMart), Asahi Kasei Corporation (Asahi Kasei) and Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Inc. (CCBJI) have announced today that a demonstration trial of a service for tracing the progress of recycling used plastic bottles, from the time they are deposited in the recycling bins until they are processed into recycled material or products, using a smartphone app, will commence at three FamilyMart shores in Tokyo on June 15, 2023. Scheduled to continue until August 31, 2023, the project will investigate operation of the app, changes in consumer behavior, the impact in terms of promoting use of recycled plastic, and other aspects.

1. Background

From September to November 2022, ITOCHU, CIPS, FamilyMart, and Asahi Kasei conducted a demonstration trial of traceability, verifying the progress of recycling used plastic bottles utilizing blockchain technology, at a FamilyMart store in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. The result was double the ordinary amount of used plastic bottles collected, and far higher collected bottle quality (bottles being washed, having their labels removed, etc.).

As CCBJI participates in this trial, it is possible to trace the whole process of recycling from the collection of used bottles to the making of new bottles, compared to the previous trial which only traced up to the recycling companies. Also, the recycling app has been updated to allow consumers to feel a sense of participation in the recycling results, in order to further enhance the quality and quantity of the deposited plastic bottles.

(a) Changes from the previous trial
 (i) Participation of the final product manufacturer
 The participation of CCBJI enables horizontal recycling, where collected plastic bottles are partially* used to produce new plastic bottles. This allows the whole process of recycling from collecting used plastic bottles to making final beverage products to be verified, and the number of corporate partners has been increased from 4 to 8. This trial is expected to enhance consumers’ interest and encourage changes in their behavior for recycling by making it possible for them to check the whole process of recycling.
* Not all the collected plastic bottles can be recycled into new plastic bottles, as some are used for other applications such as raw material for clothing. In that case, tracing is carried out up to recycling companies.

 (ii) Updated smartphone app
 New functions are added as follows:
 ・Ranking of the number of used plastic bottles collected in the bins for each FamilyMart store and each person participating
 ・Using a map to show the status of plastic bottles being recycled
 ・Fun learning about recycling through quizzes and videos provided by Plastic Waste Management Institute These new functions are expected to enhance consumers’ willingness to recycle as they can check how much they have contributed to recycling by viewing their ranking while enjoying recycling with other participants as well as gaining knowledge on recycling through quizzes and videos.

 Functions continuing from the previous trial:
 ・Traceability of plastic bottles deposited in the recycling bins
 ・Participant’s recycling activity results (the number of recycled bottles, recycled times, the amount of CO2 emissions reduced by recycling*)
 ・Original character of a tree grows in the app depending on the number of bottles deposited in the bins. * Reference values for CO2 emissions reduction when the recycling of a plastic bottle into a new bottle is compared with disposing of that bottle. Calculated as 500 ml-size plastic bottle x number of bottles. (Reference: Ministry of the Environment, "Guidelines for the Promotion of 3R Eco Point System" Chapter 6, p. 120)

Concept of app screen image

2. Outline of the investigation trial

(a) Participating stores
The trial will be conducted in three FamilyMart stores in Chiyoda, Setagaya, and Shinagawa Wards, Tokyo, which are located near railway stations, in commercial districts, and in areas frequented by the youth in the central Tokyo, compared to the previous trial which was conducted in a residential area in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. Changes in the amount of plastic bottles collected and the collected condition depending on location and customer profile will be investigated. Also, several corporate partners are able to participate.

(b) Duration
Collection of used bottles: June 15 to August 31, 2023 (scheduled)*
Smartphone app availability: June 15 to September 30, 2023
* Depending on the timing of bottles being deposited, it may not be possible to check the recycling status due to discontinuation of the app.

(c) Details of the demonstration trial
Users of the service deposit used plastic bottles in a dedicated recycling bin installed at a participating FamilyMart store and scan the two-dimensional code affixed to the recycling bin using their smartphone to record the number of bottles deposited in the recycling bin on the smartphone app. After registration, users will be able to check the location of the bottle, what process is being performed, and by which company.

Recycling bin image

(d) Onsite event and smartphone questionnaire
 (i) Onsite event
 The event is scheduled to be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on June 15, 2023, at each of the participating FamilyMart stores. A free bottled beverage will be given to the first 100 participants at each store.

 (ii) Smartphone questionnaire
 All participants replying to a questionnaire through the app will get a free coupon for a bottled beverage available at vending machines having the “Coke ON” function.

3. Roles of each company

 ・Asahi Kasei: Planning and design of the trial; provision and verification of the traceability system
 ・FamilyMart: Planning and design, consideration, implementation and verification of the trial at actual stores; verification of results of collection
 ・CCBJI: Applying plastic bottles collected through the trial to its own products
 ・ITOCHU and CIPS: Support and collaboration related to the verification trial

4. Corporate partners in the demonstration trial

 ・Meiwa Transport Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Adachi-ku, Tokyo; Tsuyoshi Ueta, President)
 ・Harue Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo; Masayuki Itabashi, Representative Director)
 ・Tonegawa Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Adachi-ku, Tokyo; Mitsuhiko Tonegawa, President)
 ・J&T Recycling Corporation (headquartered in Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa; Tetsuo Tsuyuguchi, President and CEO)
 ・Far Eastern Ishizuka Green PET Corporation (headquartered in Sakai-cho, Sashima-gun, Ibaraki; Shinichi Yasuda, President)
 ・Earth Green Management Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Iida-shi, Nagano; Hidenobu Hiraguri, President)
 ・Kyoei Industry Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Oyama-shi, Tochigi; Eiichi Furusawa, Representative Director and President)
 ・Nippon Parison Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Sashima-gun, Ibaraki; Hiroki Inamoto, Representative Director)

Moving forward, Asahi Kasei, FamilyMart, ITOCHU, CIPS, and CCBJI will carry out a series of activities in addition to the trial to verify the value of traceability ensured by the digital platform and to push further ahead with the recirculation of plastic resources.

About the previous trial, please refer to the press release by ITOCHU dated September 12, 2022:
ITOCHU Announces Smartphone Online App for Checking the Progress of Recycling Plastic Bottles as Part of a Plastic Resource Recycling Project