Japan cosmetics makers accelerating plastic reduction efforts

Courtesy of Kao Corp./Jiji Press
Kao Corp. staff talks to a customer.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Cosmetics makers in Japan are accelerating their efforts to reduce plastic use at a time when customers are increasingly reluctant to create plastic waste.

In February, major household goods maker Kao Corp. started a demonstration experiment to collect used containers of skin toner, milky lotion and other products, to recycle them into bottles.

Under the test, which will run through the end of July, 36 sales outlets, including those operated by Aeon Co. in the Kanto eastern Japan region, collect used containers of products launched under the Twany and other Kao cosmetics brands.

Jeplan Inc., a recycling firm based in the city of Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, will use its original technology to convert the collected containers into materials to produce recycled bottles. Kao aims to get more outlets to collect used containers in the future.

In April, cosmetics maker Fancl Corp. expanded the number of stores that collect used containers for recycling into planters to 61, including those in the Tokyo metropolitan region.

Many companies have been offering refill packs for products from their low-priced brands, such as those sold at drugstores.

They are now moving to sell refill packs for mid- and high-priced products that focus more on brand image and product quality.

Shiseido Co. has been bolstering sales of refill packs for products launched under its Elixir cosmetics brand.

An Elixir skin toner refill pack requires about 85% less plastic than bottled Elixir skin toner, according to Shiseido.

Last year, the company launched refill packs of Elixir products also in China and Taiwan.

The beauty product industry is working to reduce plastic use as more and more consumers are seeking both a sense of luxury and being eco-friendly.

“Releases of refill items are received favorably by customers as such items help ease their sense of guilt about throwing containers away,” an industry official said.

Some firms are also eyeing the efficient use of cosmetics products that used to be discarded due to quality and other issues.

Kose Corp. has been offering samples and other products that are usually thrown away to Mangata Co., a Tokyo-based company with a technology to produce paints from powdered cosmetics products such as eye shadow items. In April, Kao also joined the initiative.