Staying true to Toppan and an approach that only Toppan can offer
Imazu: When you identified the areas of focus of Environment, Communities and People and went about setting the targets for them, I'm sure you were conscious of an approach that is representative of Toppan and a sense of leading society. What specific points were you particular about?
Yamada: I took care to avoid a superficial approach to the environment. When it comes to the targets we are discussing internally to switch to sustainable solutions by 2030, including packaging and sales promotion materials, should we follow through with it even if it means going against the wishes of customers? Should we be satisfied if just part of the raw material used is eco-friendly? Things change completely depending on where we set the criteria. If we take it to the extreme, some people may consider that the criterion is met simply if the appearance of something has been changed or different ink is used, but I don't believe that is what Toppan should be aiming for. I want to address the areas of focus and target figures set out by TOPPAN Business Action for SDGs with an earnest commitment in collaboration with other business divisions based on the packaging technologies that Toppan has developed over many years.
What Yamada-san says reemphasizes for me that an approach that epitomizes Toppan does not necessarily mean one through which we lead society. That is secondary. What is important is whether it typifies Toppan or not. Even if the target to create eco-friendly products itself is not something pioneering, if everyone gets on board and can share a set of values that we commit to targeting, I think that is typical of Toppan.
In the area of Communities, in terms of what the source of Toppan's unique set of values is, I think it's probably respect for culture, diversity, human rights, and minorities. Underpinned by that thinking, we set out the three areas of focus for Communities. One of those is contributing to showcasing and preserving culture. The culture that we are talking about is not just famous sightseeing spots, but includes all elements of culture related to people's everyday lives, such as culinary culture, folk traditions, and customs.
Yes. Culture is certainly an area in which Toppan can have a unique impact. After culture I think it's probably education. As Owaki-san says, the SDGs present a huge challenge, and it's vital that everyone shares the same set of values. Education and activities to raise awareness are therefore indispensable for communicating and sharing those values.
The way I see it is that Christianity probably spread due to the existence of the technology of printing and the medium of the Bible. With that in mind, an educational platform that facilitates learning for people throughout the world is important for the SDGs, and I think Toppan has the foundation to be able to create it. In the area of People, we are in discussions on setting significant targets regarding the number of people covered, but I think this is also something typical of Toppan and probably an area in which we are looking to lead.
Listening to what everyone has said, I feel that there is a strong affinity between Toppan's DNA and the SDGs. Toppan has developed not just printing, but a wide range of technologies to meet the needs of client companies, and I think the expansion of the business has been centered and founded on the desire to make society better. If we didn't have that, we wouldn't have been able to keep going for 120 years.
I think that part of the process of addressing the 169 targets in the SDGs earnestly and trying to find clues to solutions is actually very close to the corporate activities and proposals of Toppan, which strives to meet the various needs of society.
The next step for achieving the SDGs
Imazu: At Toppan we are currently discussing the setting of indicators for the targets as we prepare to announce them, but what is beyond that? What do we need to do next to generate profits as a business while achieving the targets set?
Yamada: The most important thing is the mindset. If we don't have a shared mindset of wanting to create a sustainable society, then it will be difficult for us to grow the business in the future. The environmental consciousness and needs of client companies vary, so I think it's important that everyone at Toppan looks at the environment in the same way and continues to make proposals to customers with a strong mindset of wanting to create a good society and a better global environment. Beyond the individual targets like what to reduce or to aim for 100% for something, the ideal is for every employee to be able to speak confidently about the future that Toppan wants to create and about how we want to work together to achieve it.
I also think it's dangerous if the mindset is not shared and the targets are just advanced on their own. If people just pursue figures without knowing why targets have been set or what the background to them is, it's easy to envisage a situation in which the targets in front of us are achieved but the issues identified by the SDGs remain unresolved.
Toppan is a B-to-B company, so we can't just unilaterally declare that we are going to ignore customers and not make any products that are bad for the environment. That's why I think we need to communicate Toppan's stance clearly both internally and externally through things like messages from executives.
Owaki: To generate profit while contributing to the SDGs, I think the area being addressed is also important. Even if you engage in business after declaring that you will do something good for society, no one will buy what you are making if it's not aligned with the thinking of society. Therefore, you need to promptly ascertain trends in society, such as what attitudes and values are shared regarding the environment and human rights, but I think Toppan's consciousness of these kinds of issues is still at a low level. Naturally, we have to understand and recognize the challenges that the customers in front of us face, but I think it will also be vital to go beyond that to proactively gather information and study progressive trends and structural changes around the world.
When it comes to business activities, the conversation will always turn to monetization, but if we think about resource circulation, there are elements that make it difficult to simply generate profit. I think a mindset of "earning money" as opposed to "making money" is also required. This means not aiming to maximize profit and make money just for yourselves by outdoing your competitors, but creating value for society over the long term and securing profit as the reward for it. Every company fully understands that no single company can carry the weight of the SDGs, so I think that is exactly why we hear so much talk about business collaboration and ecosystems. Organizations like CLOMA* are also exploring this to create examples of success across different companies.
*CLOMA (Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance): A platform that aims to strengthen collaboration transcending business sectors and accelerate innovation to resolve the problem of marine plastic waste.
Imazu: Do you have anything that has already taken shape as a business or anything that you are working on to make a reality in a few years time?
Yamada: In the area of the Environment, we have GL BARRIER, a transparent barrier film. When we think about a circular economy, the question of the degree to which it can be put into a recycling scheme is key, and we are driving a shift to mono-material compositions to make GL BARRIER easy to recycle.
GL BARRIER offers the world's highest level barrier performance for a transparent film. (The photograph shows samples of mono-material packaging using GL BARRIER)
Yamashita: As I said before, in the area of People, I think education is an initiative that is typical of Toppan. We have solutions like "navima," which supports children's learning.
navima is a digital educational tool for elementary and junior high school students that puts the child at the center of learning. (Japanese Only)
Owaki: It's not yet at the level at which we can generate profit as a business, but we are in the process of creating a business model to enable personal information to be used not as a resource for advertising by big business but for the benefit of the individuals themselves.
MyAnchor™is a platform for integrated management of personal information based on the wishes of the individual regarding disclosure or non-disclosure. (Japanese Only)
Imazu: Thank you very much. In the next discussion, I'd like to hear your vision and message looking towards 2030.