Construction of a recycling-oriented society
As an environmentally-advanced company working to bring about a sustainable society, UNY made the “Eco-First Commitments” with the Minister of the Environment in 2008 and is now working together with consumers, producers, and local governments to solve environmental problems. As part of the commitment up to fiscal year 2018, UNY is expanding the food recycling loop to all of the stores, realizing a recycling, etc. achievement rate of 80%, and getting 85% of customers declining plastic shopping bags as a means to curb container and packaging waste. UNY also regularly discloses these progress and report to the Ministry of the Environment.
*About the Eco-First Commitments
An Eco-First Company is one that has made a commitment to the Minister of the Environment in environmental preservation, including countermeasures against global warming and waste reduction and recycling measures, and has been recognized by the minister as being engaged in “advanced, original, and industry-leading business activities” with respect to the environment.
As of October 2017, 40 companies have been certified as Eco-First Companies.
Efforts to reduce food waste
Food waste occurs when food that can still be eaten is thrown away in the process of being delivered or sold, or because its best-by date expires. In order to reduce this food waste, UNY is re-examining the “one-third rule” and working to get sales periods extended. The “onethird rule,” which dictates three time limits (delivery, sales, and consumption) beginning from a food's date of manufacture, is common business practice throughout the food industry.
Allowing retailers to set their own sell-by dates allows them to reduce product returns and waste when deliver-by and sell-by dates expire.
This has put a spotlight on the rule as a means to reduce food waste throughout the industry.
To cut down on waste at its stores, FamilyMart is working to improve the precision of its ordering system. This involves ensuring the proper number of products are ordered and managing product selection with regard to inventory levels, sales, weather, events, and other factors at each store. Such efforts help to reduce food waste for especially boxed lunches, rice balls, sandwiches, and other products with short shelf lives.
With our FamiDelica (currently “Mother's Kitchen”) brand of original delicatessen items launched in the fall of 2016, we use "gas exchange packaging" that fills packages with carbon dioxide and nitrogen instead of oxygen, which causes food to spoil, to better suppress oxidation. Utilizing higher performance food packaging has allowed us to extend best-by date by three days without sacrificing the delicatessen item's freshness or flavor, thereby reducing food waste. With the introduction of these new technologies, along with re-examination of our packaging and methods of selling products, we will continue to reduce food waste through a variety of approaches.
Creating a "Food Recycling Loop"
As a means to achieve a recycling-oriented society while conducting business rooted in local communities, UNY is operating a" food recycling loop." From producers to recyclers, we form partnerships with a range of businesses at every stage of the loop and work to recycle the food waste generated by our stores. The deployment of waste measurement systems at each store and exhaustive efforts to control and sort waste allowed UNY to achieve a food recycling rate of 63.6% in fiscal year 2016, a 2% improvement over the previous year.
Moreover, building a food recycling loop contributes to local recycling efforts and local production for local consumption, which brings producers and consumers together in each region. Recyclers turn leftover food collected at each store into feed or compost, and we use a system for keeping track of the producers that use those products. These efforts help to establish local recycling-oriented agricultural industries that provide safe and reliable agricultural and livestock products.
Comments from an Expert
FamilyMart and UNY will play a leading role in Group-wide efforts to reduce food waste in Japan
In fiscal year 2014, approximately 6.21 million tons of otherwise edible food such as uneaten or unsold food from restaurants and stores and uneaten food from homes was thrown away.
In response, food industry companies are actively engaged in recycling wasted food. These efforts include examining the use of new technologies to extend best-by dates and use-by dates and changing deliver-by dates by reevaluating industry practices.
Since receiving the first-ever certification in 2007 for its Recycling Business Plan in accordance with the Food Recycling Law, UNY has been particularly active in reducing and recycling food waste through efforts that include creating recycle loops in each prefecture where UNY develops stores. UNY's activities are some of the best in the nation, in terms of the number of recycle loops as well as the diversity and quality of recycling methods.
And with Mother's Kitchen, a private brand of delicatessen items, FamilyMart is also maintaining freshness and extending best-by dates by using both airtight containers and oxygen reduction technologies. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries believes it is important for consumers to know about these kinds of efforts being made by companies, and details these efforts in Case Studies of Using High-Performance Container Packaging to Reduce Food Waste, compiled last year.
Going forward, by leveraging each of their assets, I expect FamilyMart and UNY playing a leading role in Group-wide efforts to reduce food waste in Japan.
Promoting food recycling
In 2007, UNY became the first in the nation to have its Recycling Business Plan certified by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister of the Environment, and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Since then, through partnerships with local recyclers and producers, UNY has continuously managed "food recycling loops" while building new ones, and now operates 15 loops̶more than any other company in Japan.
UNY now runs four loops together with FamilyMart. Going forward, the entire Group will carry out" food recycling loops" as it works to enhance managerial consolidation towards bringing about a recycling-based society.
Under FamilyMart's Recycling Business Plan, since April 2008 FamilyMart has been collecting leftover food from stores in Tokyo's 23 wards and from contracted food producers, and has been recycling food to be used as liquid feed for pig farming. FamilyMart is also recycling leftover food into feed and compost in other regions, as well. As of August 2017, leftover food collections are being made from 3,650 stores around the country.
Waste cooking oil used for deep fryer products such as FAMICHIKI are collected by specialty contractors and turned into 100% recycled products that include ink, soap, and additives for poultry feed. Some is used by stores as medicated hand soap, achieving closed-loop recycling.