CSR Topics 2015
Report on the Kaneka Group's CSR initiatives in fiscal 2015.
Topics 01: Tohoku Recovery Support
Supplying Polystyrene Foam to Reconstruct Roads in Tohoku
Soil Blocks work behind the scenes. Although unseen, they support roads and reclaimed land as embankment material
Soil Environment Division
Kaneka Kentech Co., Ltd.
In areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan, many roads are still waiting to be restored. In such cases, it is important to quickly restore strong, resilient roads economically.
Kaneka Kentech Co., Ltd. supplies Soil Blocks to these road reconstruction projects. Soil Blocks are large polystyrene foam blocks made for civil engineering works. They are water resistant and strong enough to withstand structural loads while being light, and are particularly effective for embankment works on soft ground and steep slopes. Formed by expanding 1-mm diameter particles to 50 times their size, they are also environmentally friendly.
With the use of lightweight Soil Blocks, road subsidence due to heavy weight can be avoided. They are also easy to work with, making it possible to shorten the construction period. In the long term, Soil Blocks enable an economical construction method by saving a lot of time and effort for repair. We have supplied Soil Blocks for up to 100,000 m3 of reconstructed roads, particularly those on soft ground.
Road reconstruction helps disaster-affected areas by providing routes for emergency evacuation and goods transport, and creating tourist routes. Through such products and technology, we look forward to contributing more to the recovery efforts.
Topics 02: Acting on Climate Change
Group of Materials Help Lighten Vehicles
The red areas show where Kaneka products are used (bumper, dashboard and seat core material)
Amid the trend for tackling climate change, automakers' efforts to reduce vehicle weight are increasing as they strive to cut CO2 emissions by improving fuel efficiency. The use of plastics for auto parts is one such example.
Kaneka's resin products have been used to make plastic for various auto parts because of their exceptional heat resistance, strength and moldability. Recently, they have also been noted as excellent lightweight materials.
For example, the engineering resin for injection molding, Kaneka Hyperite JP, is used widely for its low liner thermal expansion (elasticity) properties and dimensional stability to lighten the exterior parts such as slide rail covers, rear spoilers and pillar garnish. Also, a molding method for polypropylene foam made using the bead method, Eperan PP, was successfully developed to achieve high strength while being lightweight, and is now used for lighter interior seats. We also developed a modifier to enhance the toughness of epoxy resin, Kane Ace MX, and other modifier to improve the moldability of polypropylene-based resin for further lighten vehicles.
In January 2016, we showcased our unique technological solutions at the Automotive Lightweight Technology Expo in Japan. We will continue the material development to satisfy the sophisticated needs of customers and to contribute to the sustainable society.
Topics 03: Support for Raising the Next Generation
Participating in the 2015 Children's Chemistry Show
Letting children experience the "wonders of science"
Children make their "one and only eraser in the world," listening closely to the explanation of the staff
The Children’s Chemistry Show, a Chemistry Day event for experimenting with chemistry, was held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka on October 24 and 25, 2015, and was sponsored by the Dream Chemistry 21 Committee.Chemistry Week celebrations are held annually during the week of October 23, the date of Chemistry Day, which commemorates the Avogadro constant (see note 1). This was the third show held in the Kansai region, with the first two shows held in 2014.
Around 4,300 people attended the two-day event, with approximately 330 children visiting Kaneka's booth for eraser making. The children were given 25 minutes each to experiment with creating their "one and only eraser in the world" in three different colors. Drawing on the assistance from the staff, the children and their parents were absorbed in making their very own eraser.
We will continue to show children the power of science through the wonders of chemistry. We look forward to continuing our support for educating the next generation at the next Children’s Chemistry Show to be held in Kansai in fiscal 2016.
Note 1: The proportionality factor that relates the amount of substance in one mol and the number of constituent particles (molecules, atoms, ions, etc.) it contains. It is named after the Italian chemist Amedeo Avogadro.
TOPIC 04: Contributing to Improved Quality of Life
Functional Food Products to Help Lower BMI
Employees of Your Health Care Co., Ltd., a mail-order company selling functional food items (from left: Hiromi Tomioka, Ikuko Miyake and Ayako Yoneda)
The functional food Glavonoid, available since 2011, was recently re-labeled as a Foods with Function Claims product
In recent times consumers have been increasingly seeking products to improve their health and quality of life. In support of this trend, in April 2015, Consumer Affairs Agency, Government of Japan introduced a new labelling system for Foods with Function Claims (FFC), in addition to the existing programs for Foods for Specified Health Uses and Foods with Nutrient Function Claims.
In September 2015, Your Health Care Co., Ltd., a Group company, began mail-order sales of Glavonoid as a Foods with Function Claims product. Glavonoid is a supplement containing fat-soluble polyphenols derived from licorice root, extracted using our own unique technology, to produce the functional food item licorice extract containing 3% Glabridin (product name: Kaneka Glavonoid). This product helps consumers maintain a healthy lifestyle; it has been scientifically demonstrated to assist with improvements in BMI (see note 2) by reducing excess visceral fat, which is known to contribute to various diseases.
As a mail-order sales company of dietary supplements such as reduced foam of coenzyme Q10, Your Health Care aims to further promote a healthy society in the future by increasing its product line of scientifically reliable FFC products.
Note 2: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a numerical value used to indicate the degree of obesity: BMI = (body weight [in kg]) ÷ (height [in m])² The Japan Society for the Study of Obesity defines a standard BMI as being between 18.5 ~ 25, with a value of 25 or higher indicating obesity.
TOPICS 05: Helping Innovate Digital Device Technology
Polyimide Film Wins the 47th Ichimura Prize
High-performance film boasting top performance in heat (400℃) and cold (-180℃) resistance among commercially available plastic films
Kaneka Group conducts R&D on materials to meet the growing need for enhanced performance and smaller and slimmer information devices arising from the evolution of electronic products.
One such material is our ultra-heat-resistant polyimide film, Pixeo, which was developed using our unique manufacturing process. Widely used primarily in flexible printed circuit boards (FPC) for smartphones and tablets, it is more reliable than previous FPC and makes slimmer devices possible.
The three engineers involved in developing Pixeo were awarded the 47th Ichimura Prize in Industry from the New Technology Development Foundation (see note 3), in recognition of their development of a groundbreaking technology and its commercial success. In addition, the product was developed using Pixeo and Apical, with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) from Kaneka and then Kaneka High-Tech Materials, Inc. receiving the 61st Award of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan.
As one of our key strategic domains, we will continue actively pursuing research and product development related to the information and communications field.
Note 3: The Ichimura Prize is awarded to technological developers for achievement in developing outstanding technology in Japan that contributes to the advancement of science and technology, industrial growth, improving culture and national welfare and safety.
TOPICS 06: Providing Global Product Technology Reflecting Local Needs
Establishing a Three-Hub Structure from America and Asia to Europe
Aiming to increase sales in the Middle East and Africa with regional hub establishment
Kaneka Group recognizes the importance of global businesses rooted in local communities. In October 2015, the Group established Kaneka Europe Holding Company N.V. in the Belgian capital of Brussels, as its regional hub for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The hub is mainly engaged in studying and planning regional business strategies, R&D, human resources, legal affairs and governance, and to enhance those functions and promote our business operations in the region.
Before this, we have established Kaneka Americas Holding, Inc. in the U.S. and Kaneka Asia Co., Ltd. in China as regional hubs in 2012. With this current addition in Europe, we now have a three-hub global structure. This brings us steadily closer to realizing our Basic CSR Policy to strive to fully understand the cultural backgrounds, manners and customs of the countries and regions where we do business as a means of actively contributing to local societies and communities.
TOPICS 07: Toward a Safe Manufacturing Site
Expanding Sensory Learning to Group Companies in China
Kaneka Eperan (Suzhou) employees learn first hand the danger of an accident on a device to experience a hand becoming caught
HiHua Fiber employees experience the danger of falling
Sensory learning is a safety-training program to improve danger sensitivity by safely experiencing accidents and hazards in the workplace. The danger of accidents and hazards are physically felt by trainees through simulating a hand accident using a gloved dummy arm at the end of a stick or showing experiments on accident mechanisms of dust particle explosions.
From 2015, we began sensory learning at three company sites in China: HiHua Fiber Co., Ltd., Kaneka Eperan (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., and Kaneka (Foshan) High Performance Materials Co., Ltd. "It deeply impressed in me that 'always' staying safe is important. Carelessness is the enemy of safety." (Shu Jing, HiHua Fiber) "I learned the importance of keeping safe." (Ya Yun Feng, Kaneka (Foshan)) "Safety means protecting yourself. Avoiding injuries due to inattentiveness means protecting the company." (Niu En Ling, Kaneka Eperan (Suzhou))
Repeated training is important to improve and maintain safety consciousness. We are committed to creating a culture of safety by continuous sensory learning in the future.