In the face of global challenges like climate change, aging societies, resource scarcity and the management of materials such as plastics, consumers around the world have expressed growing desire for a gentler and more sustainable way of living, which Kao has named the Kirei Lifestyle. The Japanese word ‘kirei’ describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, all at the same time. For Kao, this concept of Kirei not only describes appearance, but also attitude— to seek to create beauty for oneself, and also for other people and for the natural world around us.
To deliver this vision of a Kirei Lifestyle for all, Kao has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030: 1) “Make my everyday more beautiful” by empowering at least 1 billion people by 2030 to enjoy more beautiful lives — greater cleanliness, easier aging, better health and confidence in self expression; 2) “Make thoughtful choices for society” by ensuring that 100% of Kao brands make it easy for people to make small but meaningful choices that, together, will shape a more resilient and compassionate society; and 3) “Make the world healthier and cleaner” by promising that 100% of Kao products will leave a full life cycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.
Dave Muenz, Executive Officer in charge of Kao’s ESG Division, notes that, “Our approach to developing the Kirei Lifestyle Plan was to think about how we can service the needs and desires of consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles and contribute to a more sustainable world, as envisioned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Kirei Lifestyle Plan outlines how Kao will strive to realize the Kirei Lifestyle for all – living a beautiful life inside and out.”
As a manufacturer of consumer goods, Kao aims to integrate ESG as the foundation of its business management to accelerate business growth and create value for consumers and society.
The Kirei Lifestyle Plan was developed by Kao’s newly-established ESG Division as part of the four-year Kao Group Mid-term Plan K20, launched in 2017. K20 outlines Kao’s commitment to transforming itself to drive change and establish a global corporate presence by 2030.
Over the past 130 years, Kao has worked to improve people’s lives and help consumers realize fulfilling lifestyles. Kao has been recognized for sustainability excellence and continues to deliver environmentally-minded products, such as its most recent innovative refills, which use 15% bio-based plastics by container weight. Kao was able to reduce plastic use in packaging by 93,100 tons in 2018 by promoting the adoption of refills and replacement packaging and developing more compacted formulas. For five year running, Kao has been selected for inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
Ambitions of the Kirei Lifestyle Plan
Examples of the Kirei Lifestyle Plan include ensuring that 100% of new and improved products meet Kao’s Universal Design Guidelines (“Making my everyday more beautiful”); releasing at least 10 transformative sustainable product innovations by 2030 (“Making thoughtful choices for society”); and Zero Waste initiatives such as eliminating non-recyclable waste at factories and offices, as well as increasing the use of film-based packaging (“Making the world healthier and cleaner”). In response to strong consumer concern about plastic packaging, Kao is committed to transparency on plastic packaging through its “Our Philosophy and Action on Plastic Packaging” manifesto.
The foundation of the Kirei Lifestyle Plan is supported by a firm commitment to corporate governance and responsibility, as outlined in Kao’s “Walk the right path” benchmarks.
Details about the Kirei Lifestyle Plan are available online in Japanese in the Kao Integrated Report 2019 and Kao Sustainability Data Book 2019. English will be published on May 17, 2019 and June 24, 2019 respectively.
Kao creates high-value-added products that enrich the lives of consumers around the world. Through its portfolio of over 20 leading brands such as Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Molton Brown, Kao is part of the everyday lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,500 billion yen in annual sales. Kao employs about 33,000 people worldwide and has 130 years of history in innovation. Please visit the Kao Group website for updated information.
Kao Integrated Report (2019 update to be published on May 17, 2019)
Kao Sustainability Data Book (2019 update to be published on June 24, 2019)
Our Philosophy & Action on Plastic Packaging
Kao's contribution to SDGs - short film on Reuters online