March 26, 2024

Kao pursues Kirei Lifestyle Plan for sustainability

Yoshihiro Hasebe
President and Chief Executive Officer

At Kao, as a company that offers everyday essentials to people all over the world, we believe it is our duty to achieve the twin goals of creating economic and social value. Therefore, the fact that we have been able to attain a triple-A rating from CDP for four consecutive years is indeed very meaningful for us. Together with our ESG strategy, the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, developed in 2019, we are pursuing our midterm business plan, K27, with the vision of “sustainability as the only path.” The Japanese word “kirei” means living a beautiful life inside and out. We aspire to be a company that contributes to realizing this for the people we serve.

Since 2013, our partnership with CDP has helped us understand the expectations of society and investors in a timely manner as we continually improve our actions. Based on the risks and opportunities identified through scenario analyses in the areas of climate change, forests and water security, we drive innovation and develop business strategies that are then translated into actions across the value chain.

In the area of climate change, we have set ambitious targets of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and being carbon negative by 2050. In Japan, where we are headquartered, we have already achieved 100% renewable energy use across our operations. In Spain, where our European chemical business is based, we have introduced a plant that utilizes biomass for heat. Our efforts also extend to our products. To reduce raw material usage in our plastic packaging, we have developed thinner refills, reducing plastic by 40%. This also reduces emissions of carbon dioxide in production, disposal and recycling. Collective action is key to achieve a decarbonized society, and we are committed to working upstream and downstream to make an impact through our innovations across the value chain.

Another very important area for Kao is forests. It is essential to ensure our raw materials are sourced in a sustainable and responsible manner, both from environmental and social perspectives. Palm oil is an important natural resource for sustainable living, as much as it is for Kao’s business. In 2023, we made another step forward in transparency in this area by launching the Palm Oil Dashboard on our corporate website. The site shares sourcing policies and strategies, progress in traceability and the latest mill map, as well as details about the SMallholder Inclusion for better Livelihood & Empowerment program (SMILE), procurement of products certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and credits purchased from smallholder plantations. The SMILE program aims to work closely with smallholder plantation owners to improve their livelihoods through increased productivity, which in turn mitigates further deforestation.

Finally, water security. Water is undoubtedly an essential resource for Kao. Our products that facilitate clean and hygienic lifestyles consume high volumes of water when used. This is why we strive to innovate to offer functionality and usability while minimizing water usage in washing dishes, doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom. In 2023, we further advanced our technology to launch a powdered laundry detergent in stick form that requires only one rinse cycle. Making the transition to a simpler, more comfortable and ethical way of living through our products will continue to be at the heart of what we do, as we aspire to be a part of creating a more sustainable society.

Leveraging the CDP platform will help us drive forward in the right direction in our sustainability journey. By integrating ESG seamlessly into our company management and working collectively with all of our stakeholders, Kao will strive to offer products and services that will give rise to both sustainable lifestyles — kirei lifestyles — and our business success.

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