Japan Partnership for Circular Economy

Japan Partnership for Circular Economy


Returnable beer bottle collection project

[Company / organization] Brewers Association of Japan ASAHI BREWERIES, LTD. Kirin Brewery Company, LimitedSapporo Breweries LimitedSuntory Beer Ltd. ORION BREWERIES, LTD.

Members, their roles, and reason for cooperation

The five member companies of the Brewers Association of Japan (Asahi Breweries, Ltd., Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Suntory Beer Ltd., and Orion Breweries, Ltd.) mainly use returnable beer bottles for their bottled beer products sold in Japan. Bottled beer products are shipped from beer makers to distributors (wholesale/wholesalers) and delivered to retailers (liquor stores, grocery stores, discount stores, etc.). Finally, the returnable beer bottles are collected through a system in which a 5 JPY beer bottle deposit collected at the time of sale is refunded when the consumer returns the empty beer bottle to a store.

Time started

The container deposit system in which a deposit of 5 JPY per bottle is collected at the time of sale and returned when the bottle is returned was started in 1974.

Technology and business model

Returnable beer bottles sold to consumers are collected and returned to the beer plant. The returned returnable beer bottles are thoroughly cleaned inside and outside, 100% inspected by an empty bottle inspection machine, and then refilled with beer and sold again. In this way, the collected beer bottles are thoroughly washed at the factory, and those that have passed the inspection are reused as "returnable beer bottles". Returnable beer bottles that leave the factory as products are returned to the factory in about 4 months, completing about 3 cycles in a year. Bottles are said to be in use for about 8 years, and with careful handling, some bottles are used for more than 10 years.

Achievements and goals

The beer bottles are finally collected by the beer company, and the collection rate is very high at 95% or greater (99% was achieved in 2020). From the perspective of effectively using resources, maintaining a returnable beer bottle collection system is becoming more and more important, and the beer industry is working to improve awareness of returnable beer bottle collection activities in order to achieve a 100% return rate.

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