Zojirushi Corporation
“A sustainable future with personal bottles”Vacuum bottle makers envisioning the next 100 years: Vol. 1

Zojirushi Corporation’s vision of its future for the next 100 years is “From creating products to creating lifestyles.” The company’s pursuit of easy-to-use personal bottles, which are reusable and reduce waste, is another manifestation of this ethos. Finally, the company has created the “Personal Bottle Washer,” which can be easily used on the go. This environmentally-friendly future convenience will be unveiled at the Expo site.

The product Zojirushi created with its sophisticated technology was the vacuum bottle. The vacuum double-layer stainless steel structure offers superior capabilities for retaining both heat and cold. Some employees have decided to make a personal bottle, which is produced with this technology, an integral part of daily life and to reduce the amount of waste generated every day. One such employee is Yuhei Iwamoto, Head of the New Business Development Office.

The New Business Development Office is a new department established in 2018, the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding. “For the next 100 years, we want to evolve from being just a manufacturing company to a company that can solve the problems with society and people’s lives,” said Iwamoto, outlining the new department’s objectives.

The groundwork for this has already been developed since 2006. The company has launched a campaign to “Own More” and “Use More” personal bottles. In 2019, after celebrating its 100th anniversary, the company announced an “Declaration of Zero Plastic Bottles inside the Company.” The three principles of “do not bring,” “do not use,” and “do not sell” were strictly enforced, and all plastic bottle beverages were removed from the company’s vending machines.

Underlying this is the problem of marine plastics, which is becoming more serious every year. According to the Ministry of the Environment and other organizations, Japan has the world’s second-largest volume of plastic waste, amounting to 9 million tons per year, and the number of plastic bottles used reaches 20 billion per year. It is predicted that by 2050, marine debris will exceed the number of fish. Although recycling appears to be widespread in Japan, much of plastics are exported to developing countries, and some of these countries refuse to accept them, which is resulting in a problem of finding places for disposal.

According to an Internet survey conducted by Zojirushi in September 2019, the percentage of respondents who own a personal bottle exceeded 70%. However, the survey showed that less than 20% of the respondents use their personal bottles every day. The reason is simple. Cleaning, preparing the contents, and carrying the bottle are the three time-consuming chores.

The underlying reason is still the existence of plastic bottles. Vending machines are everywhere in the city, and convenience stores continue to increase in number as part of our basic infrastructure. Plastic bottle beverages can be bought right away as needed, the contents can be chosen according to preference, and they do not need to be washed. Eventually, people prefer plastic bottles to personal bottles.

But necessity is the mother of invention. “So why not make a machine that can wash bottles on the go?” Iwamoto and his team’s so-called reversal of the concept led to the development of the “Personal Bottle Washer,” a machine no one had ever seen before.

(Continuing into Vol. 2)

Mr. Yuhei Iwamoto, Head of the New Business Development Office
Picture of bottle washing (the washing machine is different from the actual one.)

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