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Measures for water resources conservation [EN8,EN22]

Kao’s business activities are closely associated with water. Therefore, Kao is working to use water effectively through “3R” efforts (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to minimize the environmental impacts of wastewater and create a system to assess these impacts.

2015 activities

In 2015, we continued conducting activities that we have been promoting. In the production stage, we confirmed risk assessments related to water stress and confirmed the possibility of long-term use of water resources and the impacts of wastewater when establishing a new plant. To reduce the volume of water consumed during the usage stage, we have launched an improved version of Bath Magiclean bathroom cleanser featuring enhanced cleansing power and easier rinsing.


Initiatives in development, manufacture and sales

Kao uses water as a product ingredient as well as to clean and cool equipment in plants. We have set targets to reduce our water use and are working to reduce consumption and increase recycling based on the 3R’s. In terms of reducing consumption, Pilipinas Kao in Philippines is continuing efforts from last year to reduce its water use after conducting a detailed study of its water use. Efforts to reuse water include collecting rainwater and using it to water green spaces at the Sumida Office, Kao Chemical Corporation Shanghai, Fatty Chemical (Malaysia) and so on. Kao is also promoting recycling efforts to clean and reuse water at many plants, such as recovering steam after use and treating and reusing water that has been used in production processes.

As a result of these activities, our water usage volume in 2015 was 17.2 million m3 (of which our water usage volume for production activities in regions where water stress is anticipated was 1.5 million m3). Our water use has improved five percentage points compared with the previous year to reach a 43% reduction, achieving our 36% reduction target (per unit of sales, relative to 2005).
In addition to internal information referencing the WRI*1 and WBCSD*2 assessment standards, Kao conducts regular risk assessments on water stress and did so again in 2015. No new risks were discovered. When opening new plants, Kao also verifies the long-term usage feasibility of water resources and the impact of wastewater.

  • *1 WRI (World Resources Institute)
    A U.S.-based global research organization that researches problems related to natural resources and the environment and conducts activities together with government and private groups and environmental experts
  • *2 WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development)
    A global advocacy association comprised of about 200 international corporations that pursues sustainable development based on the three core areas of economic growth, environmental preservation, and social equity

Water use★

Water use★
  • * Boundary: Through 2014, all Kao Group production sites as well as non-production sites within Japan. 2015 includes some non-production sites outside Japan as well.
  • * Water usage volume and water withdrawal are the same value.
  • * Assurance provided for water withdrawal and water usage volume.

Water withdrawal by water source


Initiatives during product use

Kao has set the target of reducing water use during product use by 30% by 2020 (consumer products in Japan per unit of sales, relative to 2005). In 2015, a 24% reduction had been achieved.
In the home, laundry detergent is responsible for a large amount of water use. In 2009, Kao launched the concentrated liquid laundry detergent Attack Neo as a product that not only saves water but also electricity and time by employing new cleansing technology that requires only one laundry rinse cycle. The series continues to expand, and water-saving detergents have also been launched in other countries including China, Australia and Singapore.
Similar to laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent is also responsible for a large amount of water use in the home. An improved CuCute was launched in 2014 featuring improved cleaning power as well as faster rinsing capability.
For bath products, which use large amounts of water, the Merit Shampoo launched in 2010 reduces the amount of water needed for rinsing by about 20% compared with the original version. Kao is also educating consumers about eco-shampoo techniques to use less water when shampooing hair.

In August 2015, Kao launched an improved Bath Magiclean bathroom cleaning liquid featuring enhanced cleaning power and easier rinsing.


Initiatives for discharged water after product use

In product development, Kao incorporates considerations for impacts on the regional water environment of discharged water after product use. More specifically, Kao is conducting safety evaluation using river water and activated sludge used at wastewater treatment plants to investigate the biodegradability of raw materials that may be discharged into the environment and their impacts on common aquatic organisms. Through this investigation, Kao aims to use raw materials and develop chemical substances with reduced environmental impact.
In addition, in order to understand the current situation of water environments, we conduct our own field surveys on an ongoing basis, such as environmental monitoring of river water. To respond to globalization, in countries outside Japan we are conducting monitoring and working with experts to develop mathematical models to predict the concentration of chemical substances in rivers, aiming to conduct business with consideration for the local environment.
Furthermore, Kao is a member of the Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA). JSDA has been conducting environmental monitoring of four major surfactants in urban river systems (4 rivers 7 sites, 4 measurements/year) for the past 17 years as well as environmental risk assessments on aquatic ecosystems. In the surveys conducted so far, these surfactants have consistently been shown to have low risk to aquatic organisms.

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