Leading Plastic Cutlery Manufacturer Tosho Chemical Introduces Bio PS Cutleries
Japan's leading plastic cutlery manufacturer, Tosho Chemical, has cooperated with its supply chain partner, Iwatani Corporation, in 2023 to pioneer the use of Trinseo’s bio-based polystyrene (bio PS) in making plastic cutleries. This is a significant milestone for the sustainable development of the plastic cutlery industry in Japan. Tosho Chemical is a leading resin processing manufacturer in Japan, with disposable plastic cutleries as its major products. With its output leading the industry, Tosho Chemical’s products are widely used across Japan.
Trinseo’s bio PS products were brought to market and made available to Iwatani Corporation a few years ago. Trinseo’s bio PS is produced using bio-naphtha, which is made from renewable resources such as wood pulp. It is not only environmentally friendly and safe for food contact but has also passed International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) requirements and is a bio-based material certified in Japan. Since this product is made of a single raw material, it has high recyclability, but at the same time, possesses excellent performance, including the material strength and heat resistance that the industry values. Trinseo’s bio PS displays the same performance as fossil polystyrene. Therefore, Iwatani Corporation made suggestions to the plastic cutlery industry, recommending the use of Trinseo’s bio PS products.
Tosho Chemical’s introduction of bio PS in manufacturing plastic cutleries is the first of its kind in Japan, which has attracted industry, media and public attention, with a local industry media member, Chemical Daily, reporting and interviewing Masaaki Hagiwara, Business Manager of Trinseo Japan. According to the article in Chemical Daily (in Japanese only) published on September 29, 2023, it was pointed out that compared to other plastics materials, Tosho Chemical decided to use Trinseo’s bio PS mainly because the material maintains excellent product performance while achieving recyclability.
"We are proud to be working with Tosho Chemical to pioneer the use of bio PS in manufacturing cutleries,” said Steve Lin, Sales Director, Polystyrene, Trinseo APAC, “It is a great support to the sustainability goals of the industry, and also contributes to our vision in delivering a low-carbon and circular future."
Plastic is lightweight, durable, easy to mold, and non-corrodible, making it an ideal material for cutleries and other applications, such as packaging. As part of Japan’s “3R [Reduce, Reuse, Recycle] + Renewable” initiatives to promote resource circulation of plastics in each stage of the entire lifecycle of plastic products, the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics (“the Act”) was brought into effect on April 1, 2022. Based on the Act, the Japanese government published “the Guideline for design of Plastic-containing Products” as a way to encourage designers and manufacturers of plastic-containing products to produce environmentally friendly designs. One of the guidelines prescribes using recycled plastic and bio-based plastic. The Act also requires restaurants, retail stores and others to take measures to reduce the use of disposable plastic products. Therefore, how to make plastic cutleries sustainable has become a priority for the industry in Japan.