Kao pushes sustainability initiatives through upcycling

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Kao pushes sustainability initiatives through upcycling
Japan-based cosmetics name, Kao, unveils its recyCreation efforts.

Kao aims to revitalise the Onagawacho (Myagi prefecture) area in Japan by using refill packs to progress its environmental and sustainability focus.

Upcycling over recycling

Using the concept of "Throwing it away after use. We want to change this common practice”​, RecyCreation is a term coined by the Japanese heavyweight cosmetics company to demonstrates how and why it upcycles materials rather than recycle them.  

Through the social implementation of upcycling, the company believes it can provide more enjoyment and improve the overall look, feel and usage of products by introducing new value creation. This differs from recycling, which is carried out by producing the same types of materials.

Social stance

Kao achieves this social implementation through launching community-based, socially responsible activities, along with utilising the results of scientific research to address socially-related concerns regarding environmental conservation.

Led by Michitaka Sawada, Kao’s President and CEO, Kao has been committed to its social implementation and RecyCreation efforts. One such initiative has seen Kao team up with local communities and its residents to collect used refill packs and then recycle these into polymers. Once recycled, these can then be used to encourage innovation and eco-friendliness throughout local neighbourhoods.

Kao first spoke about its Environmental Statement in 2009, where it emphasised its objective to lower its environmental impact, harness environmental conservation and produce a sustainable society.

“In reducing the environmental footprint caused by product packaging, Kao takes the ‘4R approach’, with ‘reduce’ as its base principle, complemented by the increased use of ‘renewable’ raw materials, and the promotion of ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’,”​ the company stated in a recent press release.

Long-term commitment

In 2015, Kao first began its research with the aim of identifying and creating a new resource circulation packaging system. Since 2016, it has undertaken numerous community-based projects to encourage the social implementation of these efforts in and around neighbourhoods as it strived to communicate its message of wanting to change the common practice of throwing products away after use.

Throughout its projects, Kao has collaborated with local communities to collect refill packs relating to the beauty world such as shampoo bottles and personal care items. 

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