The Japan Pulp & Paper Group is working to solve social issues with the support of the group's advanced technological capabilities. Firstly, it is worth mentioning the wastepaper processing technology possessed by the Corelex Group. The group produces toilet paper and tissue paper by extracting pulp fiber from difficult-to-recycle wastepaper*1 that was once considered difficult to reuse as a raw material for recycled paper. This wastepaper processing technology is attracting attention from various companies and government agencies in Japan.

            

The Corelex Group has been contributing to resource recycling by utilizing its proprietary technologies. Here we will introduce one example from the group, Corelex Shin-Ei Co., Ltd., which is headquartered in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The company is working together with S-Pulse Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, S-Pulse), which manages the J-League soccer club team, Shimizu S-Pulse, to build a circular economy that makes the best use of local resources.

            *1 Aluminum-lined paper packs, paper laminated with film, etc., photocopied slips, soiled food containers, etc.
            

Hideaki Suzuki

Sales Department, Shizuoka Head office
Corelex Shin-Ei Co., Ltd.

Ryosuke Wakasugi

Education Business Administration Department, Business Division
S-Pulse Co., Ltd.

Kyoko Hatano

Education Business Administration Department, Business Division
S-Pulse Co., Ltd.

(Names of affiliations and positions are current as of the time of the interview.)

Paper Manufacturing Supports Environmental Conservation Activities, Which in Turn Leads to Social Contribution Activities

Although the Corelex Group has more than half a century of history, it is a latecomer to the market as a recycled household paper manufacturer. The group has a history of expanding the range of wastepaper items it recovers due to the difficulty of procuring wastepaper in its wastepaper collection business, and from this arose the concept of recycling paper resources that had previously been incinerated. This resulted in a high level of technological innovation. Since then, the Corelex Group has continued to take on the challenge of becoming a group that is truly needed by society through its wastepaper recycling technology, under the eternal theme of “passing on a green Earth to our children.”

In July 2023, the traditional online store was completely redesigned. One of the reasons behind this is the change in the general customer movement. Suzuki of Corelex Shin-Ei, who was managing inventory and shipping products based on orders from the online store, also felt the change. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people's lifestyles, and an increasing number of people are purchasing toilet paper and other products from our website. The group's desire to provide a more comfortable online shopping experience also encouraged the renewal of the site,” Suzuki said. The online store carries 100% recycled toilet paper. Earth-friendly paper production contributes to forest conservation and reduction of environmental impact. Moreover, the Corelex Group considers it part of its social contribution activities to extend the awareness of environmental protection that it has been working on through its business to the local community.

Further Strengthen Cooperation With S-Pulse

Suzuki is currently involved in a collaborative project with S-Pulse. In 2007, S-Pulse launched a project entitled, “To be an Earth-friendly soccer club. To pass on a comfortable soccer environment to the next generation.” Since then, S-Pulse has been implementing the "S-Pulse Eco Challenge" on an ongoing basis. In recent years, the company has spurred zero-carbon promotion in collaboration with partner companies and others and has also involved supporters and local residents to promote behavioral change.

One example is an initiative to recycle used paper cups from IAI Stadium Nihondaira (hereinafter, IAI Stadium), the home of Shimizu S-Pulse, and return them to the stadium in the form of toilet paper. This trend has accelerated since S-Pulse signed a club partnership agreement with Corelex Shin-Ei in 2021.
Suzuki went on to say, “the weight of paper cups collected at IAI Stadium has been steadily increasing: 130kg in the 2021 season, 400kg in the 2022 season, and 500kg in the 2023 season (as of September 11). This is partly due to the fact that the number of visitors has increased compared to when there were restrictions on activities based on measures against new COVID-19 infections, but we also see it as a sign that the awareness of recycling has spread among supporters through continued efforts.”

Working With Supporters and Local Residents to Address Environmental Issues

In recent years, Corelex Shin-Ei has further strengthened its cooperation with external parties and is further expanding its efforts to reduce its environmental impact. Similarly, S-Pulse was also intent on further expanding the recycling of paper resources in a different way from the collection activities at IAI Stadium. In order to see this idea come to fruition, together we launched a project in April 2023 as part of the Eco Challenge. This project is called the “SDGs Environmental Education Program: Collect and Recycle Miscellaneous Wastepaper into Toilet Paper!” At S-Pulse Dream Field (hereinafter, SDF), futsal facilities operated by S-Pulse, we've begun collecting difficult-to-recycle wastepaper, otherwise known as “Miscellaneous Wastepaper”*2, which used to be incinerated as garbage.

The total amount of miscellaneous wastepaper collected since April 2023 at the five SDF locations throughout Shizuoka Prefecture (Sunto, Fuji, Shimizu, Shizuoka, and Fujieda) was 8,210kg as of the end of July. If all of this was incinerated, approximately 10,410kg of CO2 would be emitted, but if it was dissolved and recycled into toilet paper, the estimated amount would be approximately 4,014kg. As a result of the cooperation of children attending SDF facilities, their families, and SDF staff in sorting and collecting miscellaneous wastepaper at each household, approximately 6,396kg of CO2 will be reduced*3 (see left chart for the basis of the calculation). This reduction is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of eight round trips from Hokkaido in the north of Japan to Kagoshima in the south by car.

*2 Almost all paper used in daily life other than commonly collected newspapers, magazines, cardboard, milk cartons, etc. (Excluding soiled paper such as used tissue paper and blotting paper)

*3 Calculations using paper packs as an example: (Source: Ministry of the Environment contracted survey "FY2004 Report on Survey Project for Life Cycle Assessment of Containers and Packaging")
            

In addition to adopting a style that allows children to participate in a fun competition to collect wastepaper at the five SDF sites, the amount collected was regularly reported on the S-Pulse official website, and other means were also used to increase the sense of competition and unity among participants. As a result, the weight of wastepaper collected increased with each passing day, and so did the amount of miscellaneous wastepaper.
Furthermore, a "Zero Carbon Soccer Clinic" event was planned for parents and their children aged from five to seven years old. Through quizzes on what items can be recycled as paper resources, the event provided an opportunity for younger children to learn about recycling in a fun way.

Wakasugi of S-Pulse says that the added entertainment value mentioned above has worked well in raising awareness of paper recycling. What started as a game has become a part of daily life, and the number of households that consider the separation and collection of miscellaneous waste a normal part of life is increasing at an accelerating pace. Wakasugi went on to say, “We had a number of detailed meetings with Corelex Shin-Ei from the planning stage to the implementation of the project. At first, we were concerned about whether we would be able to collect any paper at all, but this concern was quickly allayed once we started. The number of repeat customers who bring their miscellaneous wastepaper to our locations is steadily increasing. It is no exaggeration to say that the enthusiasm and energy of Mr. Suzuki and his team have changed the mindset of those who participate in this project and made the miscellaneous wastepaper collection program, which started from scratch, take root in the community.”

  • Zero Carbon Soccer Clinic

  • A performance by dance school students

The partnership between Corelex Shin-Ei and S-Pulse has deepened even further with the S-Pulse Dance School continuing to perform on a stage set up at the "Product Exhibition and Sale & Paper Exchange" event that Corelex Shin-Ei holds for local residents.
The S-Pulse Dance School offers lessons with the motto "Smile with Dance" for all levels, from its Kids Class for four and five year-olds to the Selection Class for those aiming to become a member of S-Pulse's official cheerleading squad, Orange Wave. Corelex Shin-Ei signed an agreement to become an S-Pulse Dance School Learning Supporting Partner in September 2023.

Hatano of S-Pulse, who is in charge of this project, emphasizes the educational aspect of the dance school. The goal is not only to improve dance technique, but also to develop leadership and cooperative skills, and to foster human resources who can shine in front of a large crowd," she says.

Hatano says the Learning Supporting Partner Agreement was made possible when a Corelex Shin-Ei spokesperson approached them and said, “Let's work together to collect paper resources”, after seeing the dance school students, who had understood the purpose of the event, taking it upon themselves to actively call for the exchange of wastepaper and the collection of miscellaneous papers from the stage.

Suzuki of Corelex Shin-Ei sees this new partner as a reassuring presence. “We are a company that recycles paper resources. Therefore, we are grateful for the opportunity to borrow S-Pulse's ability to "attract" people with soccer and dance, or in other words, S-Pulse's strong communication ability, to spread the word and let supporters and local residents know about recycling, which can be done in a fun and familiar way. We hope that the school students will continue to cooperate with the collection of miscellaneous wastepaper, and at the same time, we hope to further raise environmental awareness among local residents and children (Suzuki).

Working Together With “For the Earth” as Our Common Goal

The collection of miscellaneous wastepaper in collaboration with S-Pulse is an example of an SDG activity that anyone can undertake with only a slight change in awareness. The Collect and Recycle Miscellaneous Wastepaper into Toilet Paper! project, which began in April 2023, has helped to promote a change in people's behavior. Through the activities with S-Pulse, we realized that once people have a chance to understand the proper separation of paper resources, they will continue to do so without any difficulty. We hope to use these results as a basis for collaboration with other companies and organizations. (Suzuki)

Of course, S-Pulse also hopes that the recycling circle will expand even further. We have heard that many companies and organizations are highly interested in SDGs and CSR-related activities but are not sure where to start. As we have been talking to companies and organizations that we have a relationship with individually, we are seeing an increasing number of them expressing interest. If this trend continues, the circle of wastepaper recycling activities will be further expanded and enhanced beyond supporters, local residents, and dance school students. I believe there are many more ways we can contribute to the local community through the collection of miscellaneous wastepaper. (Wakasugi)

With the same goal of "for the Earth," the two companies will continue to work together toward the single objective of "Building a Circular Economy That Makes the Most of Local Resources."

Information in OVOL Insight is current as of the date of publication.
Please note that this is subject to change without notice.
Date of Publication: November 15, 2023

At the Japan Pulp & Paper Group, each and every employee has a sense of ownership and is part of a group-wide commitment to solving social issues, pursuing the unlimited possibilities of paper, and taking on the challenge of creating new value on a daily basis.

Inoue and Koyama, who belong to the Stationery Base Materials Section of the Functional Materials Department at the Kansai Branch office, discovered great potential when they encountered “paper yarn,” a functional material made from paper, during their daily sales activities. What kind of innovations can be created in the future through the collaboration between ITOI LSR Co., Ltd., which has developed a revolutionary, world first paper yarn mass-production system (Japanese Patent No. 6822708), and Japan Pulp & Paper? We are focusing on the future potential of paper yarn, and at the same time, has high expectations that the "washi fabric" products initiated by it’s president, and one of Japan’s leading washi fabric researchers, Mr. Itoi, will create new value and bring about a revolution in society.

Tomokazu Inoue

Japan Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd.
Manager
Stationery Base Materials Section, Functional Materials Department, Kansai Branch

Takahiro Koyama

Japan Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd.
Stationery Base Materials Section, Functional Materials Department, Kansai Branch

Toru Itoi

ITOI LSR Co., Ltd.
CEO & President

(Job titles and departmental affiliations are current as at the time of this interview)

The Only Section at Japan Pulp & Paper With the Name "Stationery"

The Stationery Base Materials Section, to which Inoue and Koyama belong, is the only section named "Stationery" at Japan Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd. This is an indication that Osaka has many customers related to stationery products made of "paper," such as notebooks and envelopes. Since they carry a variety of finished products, and the customers’ requirements are also diverse, the sales department handles a particularly wide variety of materials. The lineup is broad and includes printing paper used for publications and other applications, communication papers, such as carbonless copy paper and copy paper consumed in offices, as well as oil and water resistant papers and containerboard used for packaging such as paper container boxes and lunch box containers, as well as base papers for paper products such as notebooks and envelopes. In addition to paper, the section also sells chemical products such as resins and films, as well as electric power.

Furthermore, with paper functions themselves also becoming more segmented, in order to prepare paper for each customer's products, another characteristic of the section is that it often handles "custom-made" products, in which paper is made to order. Unlike general papers for a wide range of users, which manufacturers and our company always keep in stock, "custom-made" orders are difficult to handle with substitutes, so constant attention to detail, including the ordering to manufacturers and inventory control, is essential. In addition, as mentioned above, there is a fairly wide range of items for a single section to handle, so in order to be recognized by our clients as "paper professionals," we are required to be familiar with each product and to keep ourselves updated with a wide range of information.

In the years since 2000, the Stationery Base Materials Section has been affected by social trends such as the spread of the corporate mail-order business for office supplies via the Internet, and some customers have even been forced to close their businesses. Also in recent years, schools have been closed across the board due to measures against COVID-19 infections, which together with progress made regarding teleworking of companies has spurred a decline in demand for paper products, such as notebooks and copy paper. Even if the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, the general industry expectation is that the paper products market will continue to shrink over the long term due to the decline in the number of children and students (declining birthrate) and the penetration of the paperless movement (digitalization).

Grasp the Appeal and Feel of Paper Yarn

Just as unfavorable winds were blowing through the Stationery Base Materials Section, Inoue and Koyama received an inquiry from a client about "paper yarn.” Even the two experienced paper product specialists had never heard of this product before. However, after gathering information within the company, they learned about the mechanism behind paper yarn, in which thin paper is used to make the material that becomes paper yarn, and they also learned of the existence of a paper manufacturer that makes the base paper for paper yarn. “The base paper for paper yarn has a basis weight* of about 10g/m². I had never handled paper this thin, and frankly speaking, I was puzzled. How does thin paper become paper yarn? How does it then become fabric?” notes Inoue. Numerous questions arose, but we asked the paper manufacturer about each one and gradually deepened our understanding.


*Basis weight: The weight of a sheet of paper per square meter, expressed in the units g/m2. For the same brand of paper, the smaller the basis weight, the thinner the paper.

As a result, we were able to meet the client's request and have been working on product development ever since. On the other hand, as we continued to communicate with paper manufacturers who produce base paper for paper yarn, they introduced ITOI LSR to us, saying, “We would like you to work with this client.” Inoue and Koyama immediately went to the home office of Mr. Itoi, the head of ITOI LSR. The first thing that Mr. Itoi mentioned was a story about socks made of washi paper yarn. “I was surprised at how comfortable they were when I actually tried them on after receiving a sample. My own skin sensation matched the evidence that the porous nature of washi paper keeps feet dry and silky," said Koyama. This was a light in contrast to the shadow that had fallen over the paper industry. Inoue and Koyama say they felt that this would illuminate the future.

  • Washi fabric items by ITOI LSR

The Japan Pulp & Paper Group is a Driving Force Behind the Paper Culture That Includes Paper Yarn

Paper yarn, which has often been discussed from the perspective of a so-called traditional craft, is about to be transformed into an industrial product more familiar to consumers. We want to make the most of this opportunity. “In the past year, we have seen an increase in the number of articles about new products using paper yarn. We believe that this product has great potential and will continue to grow in the future. If demand increases, there will be an urgent need to strengthen the production system to meet this demand,” says Inoue. Of particular note is the "Direct Washi" paper yarn mass-production machine developed and patented by ITOI LSR. Paper yarn is generally known for its unique hardness, but the paper yarn produced by this machine is not only soft but also elastic. This machine, which utilizes the principles of handmade paper-making, also slits the machine-made washi base paper and transports it directly to the twisting machine, enabling the mass production of paper yarns. Inoue says that “If this equipment becomes widely used, more washi fabric products will enter the market. Washi paper fabric is exactly the kind of product that Japan Pulp & Paper should be involved with in the future. Our role is to purchase paper yarn base paper and distribute it to ITOI LSR, but in the future we would like to go beyond that and work together with ITOI LSR to spread the good qualities of paper yarn throughout the world.

Mr. Itoi, who was involved in the development of Direct Washi, describes the mass production enabled by this machine as "the dawn of washi yarn," and Koyama has high expectations for it as well. “Paper has functions such as “information communication,” “wrapping,” and “wiping,” but if the attribute closely related to people's lives, “wear”, also takes root, I feel that the revolutionization of the industry that Mr. Itoi hopes for is not just a dream”, says Koyama.

Inoue and Koyama, who were inspired by Mr. Itoi's passion and the appeal of washi fabric, say, "We are the right people to promote paper culture, including paper yarn.” The reason for this is the knowledge that Japan Pulp & Paper possesses. The company's knowledge of paper, as well as information on business practices, trends, and personal connections in the paper industry, reflects the efforts of its predecessors who have continued to pursue the value and potential of paper, and represents each of the many results of their sincere efforts. “We are proud that our knowledge is the best in the Japanese paper industry. Our mission is to pass on this paper culture of which we are so proud, to the next generation.

Carrying on the Stationery Base Materials Section Name

A number of washi fabric items created by ITOI LSR are already available in the market, and new applications for denim are being developed. In addition, the company expects washi fabrics to be highly versatile, transcending the boundaries of apparel. “We will continue to share with ITOI LSR about cutting-edge information on paper, and working as a leader in developing the market. Mr. Itoi's vision is to showcase the appeal of washi fabrics to the world at the Osaka World Expo in 2025, and we hope to be of assistance in realizing this vision.” (Koyama)

Inoue and Koyama agree that paper yarn is a material worthy of the Stationery Base Materials Section's name in the 21st century. Inoue and Koyama envision a future in which paper yarn will be a new pillar of the Stationery Base Materials Section, and they are taking on the challenge of creating new value through paper yarn. Inoue, in particular, is responsible for preserving the name of the Stationery Base Materials Section for future generations. "The names of various divisions have changed with the times, but I want to leave the name “Stationery Base Materials Section” of the Kansai Branch to future generations.” These were the words of Inoue's former supervisor at the time he was appointed to the Stationery Base Materials Section. Inoue believes that the name "Stationery Base Materials Section," which has remained throughout the long history of Japan Pulp & Paper, must be carried on in the future. This aspiration to keep the name of the section alive with paper yarn at its core may be what will support a sustainable society.

The information provided herein was current at the time of its announcement.
Please note that this information may be subject to change without notice.
[Published on November 28, 2022]

Gakken Group is engaged in issuing publications, providing cram school and other educational services, and manufacturing and selling childcare products. In recent years, it has also expanded its business to operating nursing facilities, such as houses to service the elderly and group homes for people with dementia, as well as facilities to support childcare.
Within these businesses, Gakken Products Support (GPS) manages the manufacturing of products handled by the Group, the copyright management, and the outsourcing of back office operations with the mission of “providing high quality services to Gakken Group companies”. The company's production and procurement control department mainly handles the procurement of paper and the management of the print binding process.
GPS is where Japan Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd. sells printing paper mainly from Oji Paper to, which GPS uses for Group publications, teaching materials for cram schools, and mail-order catalogs.

Shinichiro Yoshida

Japan Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd.
General Manager
Publication Paper Sales Department I

Toshihiro Yamaguchi

Gakken Products Support Co., Ltd.
Assistant Manager
Production and Procurement Control Department /
Section Chief
Business Operation Section

(Job titles and departmental affiliations are current as at the time of this interview)

A Truly Japan Pulp & Paper Type of Proposal

In 2013, Gakken Group launched its medium-term management plan “Gakken 2013”. In the plan, it committed to investing management resources in areas such as cram school and nursing care operations with its existing publishing business as its core. “As the so-called publishing recession continued, the Production and Procurement Control Department, whose main function was procuring paper for publications, felt a sense of crisis,” Yamaguchi said. Something new had to be done. However, it was difficult to come up with a concrete plan.
That is when Japan Pulp & Paper made a proposal. GPS, Oji Nepia, and Japan Pulp & Paper would jointly sell paper diapers made by Oji Nepia, a Group company of Oji Paper, to Gakken Cocofump Holdings, which operates a nursing care business.

It would not only expand the business scope of GPS, but Gakken Cocofump Holdings would also be able to improve its services by providing high-quality Oji Nepia products to residents of its facilities. Oji Nepia could also conduct comprehensive market research and respond to demands from the expanding market for serviced housing of elderly people, by learning what types of products and services are needed. “It would benefit our company by generating business other than paper for publications,” Yoshida said.
It was indeed a project with “benefits for all”. The idea was unique to Japan Pulp & Paper, a company that has long brought together paper manufacturers and user companies, conducting business that benefits all companies involved.

Three Companies with a Common Destiny

However, the proposal was not immediately commercialized and Japan Pulp & Paper continued to explore and propose ideas with GPS. “To get them to understand the paper diaper business and to have them recognize the need for purchasing Nepia products from our company, we conducted tours of Oji Nepia factories and had the GPS management team wear the paper diapers themselves in order to have them experience the product from the user's perspective,” Yoshida said.
If the Company were selling printing paper, it could have taken a hands-off approach after bringing GPS and Oji Nepia together. But it didn't. “It wouldn’t have been exciting. Most importantly, we started this project with GPS,” said Yoshida. The company took on a new initiative and stayed with the customer until the end. This attitude was also a very Japan Pulp & Paper like way of doing business.

Until then, diapers used in Gakken Cocofump Holdings nursing facilities had mostly been brought in by the elderly residents’ families, and facilities initially did not feel the need to purchase them in bulk. Therefore, Japan Pulp & Paper, GPS, and Oji Nepia made a point of visiting nursing care sites all over Japan to assiduously promote the quality and after-sales services of Oji Nepia products.
“There was a division of roles, with GPS being the contact point for Gakken Cocofump Holdings , Oji Nepia the provider of information and product knowledge as the manufacturer, and Japan Pulp & Paper charged with bringing the proposal together, but all three companies had a common destiny. We were promoting sales together,” said Yamaguchi.

Beyond the Success

The business, which started in 2016 with 15 offices providing products to approximately 150 people, has grown to a business with 100 offices providing products to an estimated 2,000 people as of January 2020.
Residents of nursing homes are not only able to use high-quality Oji Nepia products, but also save time and effort spent on shopping. Nursing care facilities have praised the products, saying: “The quality is good,” and “The lecture for staff on after-sales services was very informative”. The products have also led to cost reductions through management and centralized purchasing. For Oji Holdings, the project has not only increased sales for Oji Nepia, but has also expanded transactions for the entire Group, further strengthening its relationship with one another.
The biggest achievement for GPS was the improvement in its contribution to the Group. It was able to showcase its new initiative in the nursing care business to other business partners and publishers at a Gakken Group exhibition with a display of diapers and tissues in a Japan Pulp & Paper booth.

The project has strengthened the relationship between GPS and Japan Pulp & Paper. As a result, the sales volume of printing paper that Japan Pulp & Paper had in deals with GPS has also increased. Japan Pulp & Paper succeeded in expanding both its business scope and sales volume.
According to Yamaguchi, “Having talked about this project with Japan Pulp & Paper to other business partners we now receive a lot of proposals for new business ideas.” It seems to have prompted change in the traditional way of doing business in the paper industry.
The project was shared throughout Japan Pulp & Paper as a success story. Japan Pulp & Paper has long had a culture that allows employees to freely try new initiatives. “Many people appear to have been inspired”, Yoshida said. New projects may be launched again going forward.
Both Yamaguchi and Yoshida also feel it is time to try new initiatives. Japan Pulp & Paper, while returning to its roots of supplying printing paper, is considering new products and private brand development. GPS plans to develop the know-how and schemes it acquired in this project and expand its business target from adults to children in daycare centers and kindergartens. Their sights are set beyond their current success. Japan Pulp & Paper and GPS will continue to take on new challenges together.

Customer
Gakken Products Support Co., Ltd.
Head office location
11-8 Nishigotanda 2-chome, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo,141-8510
Web
https://gakken.co.jp/

The information provided herein was current at the time of its announcement.
Please note that this information may be subject to change without notice.
[Published on July 12, 2020]