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Create from Scratch and Endless Spread. –Euglena Co.’s Mission for a Sustainable Future–

Euglena Co., Ltd. 

“Euglena Co., Ltd” is a broadly known company in Japan. This company produces not only beverages in vibrant green and yellow packaging sold at supermarkets, but also cosmetics.  Furthermore, there was this surprising news that the company succeeded in flying a jet plane using its epoch-making renewable fuel.

What kind of company is this?

Euglena Co., Ltd. is tackling a variety of social issues towards their goal, “making people and the earth healthy.” Their business seems too wide to classify in a single word. Since 2019, they have recruited a chief future officer (also known as CFO) and future summit members for 18-year-olds and under.  We interviewed Mr. Kitami, the director of the Corporate Communications Department, about the CFOs and Euglena Co.’s future.

Euglena Co.’s beverage “Euglena for the body” 

“CFO”: Under 18!? 

“Why don’t adults ever take environmental issues and climate change seriously?”

The words uttered by an elementary schooler stuck in the head of the executives of Euglena Co. Mr. Kitami was one of them:

“It is the children who will live in the future. It would not be right if they do not participate in discussions about their future.”  

So, in 2019, Euglena Co. started recruiting CFOs under the age of 18. Their activity is focused on the problems of sustainability.

“Environment” was the theme for the first year. The policy established by the first CFO and future summit members was “building a system that enables consumers to act in an environmentally conscious manner, without even being aware of it.” 

To do that, Euglena Co. began reducing the use of petroleum-based plastics for their products. 

Press release about the 2nd CFO

Colleagues’ Well-being Causes Growth of Euglena Co. 

In the second year, 2020, the CFO’s theme was “well-being”, which was especially for the company’s co-workers.

Euglena Co. is producing cosmetics and beverages as a part of a healthcare business. They have been pursuing the consumers’ well-being for a long time. 

However, they came to realize that they cannot offer the customer’s well-being unless they themselves have exercised their own.

Therefore, Mr. Kitami explains, the workers must be more considerate about their own well-being as well. “Euglena Co. develops positively when the workers live positively.” 

We, as interviewers, felt that the CFO and its program is a long-term initiative, rather than a short one. It may seem there is no relation between the CFO’s first theme, “environment”, and the second theme, “well-being”. 

But as a matter of fact, the work in the second year is based on the outcome of the first year, Mr. Kitami pointed out. 

Garbage area at Euglena Co.’s headquarters

For example, workers revised the way of throwing away trash towards their objective of reducing the emission of petroleum-based plastics. 

Now, they have only one garbage area per office with transparent garbage boxes. They never replace old garbage bags with new ones unless the box is full.

Those transparent boxes are sorted into recyclable trash, burnable trash, non-burnable trash so that the colleagues can see what kind of trash they tend to generate a lot, leading them to consider the way of reducing the trash more efficiently. 

“Well-being” can be initiated by working together as a team. “Well-being does not mean a comfortable life just for you. It comes from cooperation.

Considering solutions with colleagues will help to have a better workplace and a better life. We must achieve the “sustainable development goals” (also known as SDGs) together. Literally, together.” Mr. Kitami explained enthusiastically.

“Challenges” with the CFO’s Recommendation

While reflecting the recommendations made by the CFO on their business, it was inevitable for Euglena Co. to face big challenges, said Mr. Kitami.

One of the proposals made by the first CFO was to cease the use of plastic bottles for its beverage products. The company had to search for a different way to sell their beverages, keeping in mind how the harms to the environment have been widely discussed. This was indeed a critical decision for Euglena Co..

Being the newcomer in the beverage market, If they were to stop using plastic bottles the company would have to find a new space to get their products re-displayed at stores.

Nevertheless, Mr. Kitami stated that this “challenge” was nothing surprising. Since the role of the CFO is to put forward suggestions to make both, the company and society, better, it is natural that it requires some challenges. “Euglena Co.”  is designed to face and tackle challenges, rather than dismiss the recommendation raised by the CFO.

Setting the challenges as the starting point to reach the goals is the key to achieve the well-being of the company and society.

Mr. Kitami

Mission as a Venture Enterprise

Euglena Co., Ltd is a venture enterprise with about 250 employees and has been in business for about 15 years.

This efficient size of the company makes it possible to flexibly handle challenges and take the initiatives to achieve the well-being of society.

Namely, the CFO helps this happen and Euglena Co. focuses on making progress from 0 to 1. When it comes to larger companies, their decision making can be more complex and demanding.

If Euglena Co. can set a precedent that other companies could potentially follow, the movement to improve the society would become greater.

Euglena Co.’s tagline on the logotype

Is Sustainability Only for Conscious People?  

“Livable, Playable, Sustainable.” (「いきる、たのしむ、サステナブる」)This is the tagline for Euglena Co.’s logotype. Many might have heard the word “sustainable” a lot recently.

Some people may perceive the word as something only for “go-getters”, who are highly conscious people. Others may understand the word as “status quo”. However, in the interview with Mr. Kitami, we found that the word “sustainable” was completely different from these negative images.

One of the reasons that let many of us think sustainable products are for the “go-getters” is because the concept of sustainability is considered something special, something apart from our daily life.

However, caring about sustainability is now required in society because it is not assured. If no action is taken, the environmental problems would keep on worsening. Sustainability is an urgent need.

Thus, the company carries a mission to wipe off the exclusive image of the word “sustainable” or “sustainability” and to alternate it as something that is a part of our daily life. 

 In 2021, the word frequency of “SDGs” and “sustainability” used in public increased. This may be a kind of boom, Mr. Kitami said.

Booms are just temporary and always have an end. So, the company continues with their innovation to spread the message that sustainability is not an exclusive thing. 

Their mass cultivation of Euglena microalgae, as well as flying aircrafts using its own “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) are just a few examples that Euglena Co. has demonstrated as new forms of sustainability.  

A civil aircraft loaded with SAF

Moving Forward to the Realization of Sustainability

By continuing the process of making what was thought to be impossible possible and increase their reproducibility, other companies and businesses would follow Euglena Co.’s efforts as a good model.

As the movement expands in this way, we individuals would gradually see environmental problems as our own as well. Sustainability cannot be achieved if it is seen as something special or inaccessible.

During the interview with Mr. Kitami, we strongly felt that sustainability is not attainable without each and every person’s effort. It is time that we, the younger generation, take action for a better future.

・・・・・
Written by Ayaka Sato and Sarah Marlowe.
Edited by Deniz Lemcke.

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