At plastics producer Sekisui Chemical social and environmental responsibilities are part of the company’s fundamental values.
The Japan-headquartered company has prioritised the importance of responsible behaviour based on the principle of ‘giving back to the earth as much as it takes’ through a focus on ESG: environment, society, and governance.
To that end, Sekisui Chemical has spent the past years exploring and developing methods to decrease the impact of its operations on the environment and looking for responsible solutions for, among other things, plastic waste. The company has calculated that some 60 million tons of combustible waste are generated each year in Japan – easily providing the volume of fossil resources needed to cover the full volume of plastics production in Japan every year. Yet even now only some of this waste is recycled, while most of it is incinerated and dumped in a landfill.
“We are engaging in developing technology that can be leveraged in order to use “waste” as resources,” says Keita Kato, president, representative director and CEO of Sekisui Chemical - an initiative that converts unsorted unrecyclable waste, including plastic waste, into an urban oil field.
In 2017, technology for converting raw materials such as unsorted unrecyclable waste into ethanol was jointly developed with LanzaTech. Since then, efforts have been directed at achieving practical implementation and commercialisation of this technology – efforts which led to the announcement on 16 April of a new joint venture. Called Sekisui Bio Refinery Co., Ltd, the company entered into the joint venture with INCJ Ltd, a public-private sector fund supervised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, with the aim of verifying and commercialising Lanzatech’s technology.
To that end, a verification plant will be built in Kuji City, Iwate. The plant, which will open in the first quarter of 2022, will handle around 20 tons of municipal solid waste a day - around a tenth of what is processed at the standard-scale waste disposal facilities supplying the waste, the company said. This will then be processed into ethanol.
Partners such as local municipalities, waste disposal-related companies and plant manufacturers will be widely recruited.
The company’s unflagging emphasis on environment, society, and governance has not gone unnoticed. Sekisui Chemical now ranks 12th in the 2020 Global 100, an index initiated and regularly updated by the Canadian firm Corporate Knights Inc.
The index evaluates major companies from all sectors. It examines their sustainability performance from a number of perspectives such as environment, society and corporate governance (ESG) and selects the 100 best corporations.
Sekisui Chemical is also one of the signatories of the Science Based Targets initiative, aimed at a long-term reduction in CO2 emissions – 26% between 2013 and 2030. As a joint international NGO initiative, including the UN Global Compact, it certifies whether the targets set by a company for reducing greenhouse gases are Science Based Targets that count as long-term measures to combat climate change.
Sekisui Chemical is the first company in the chemical industry worldwide to earn SBT certification.