Sustainability: Environment

Sustainability Promoter Yukiko Ishikawa on our journey to making the CDP’s Climate Change Company A List for four consecutive years

In fiscal year 2023, for the four consecutive year, the Ajinomoto Group was selected for inclusion in the CDP’s* Climate Change Company A List, its highest rating category. The A List recognizes the leaders in corporate transparency and performance on climate change. We sat down with the Global Communications Department’s Yukiko Ishikawa, who coordinated information sharing with the CDP, to learn how the Ajinomoto Group met the CDP standards required to make the A list.

* CDP is an international not-for-profit charity (NGO) that aims to facilitate management and disclosure of efforts by companies, cities, provinces, and local regions in dealing with climate change and reducing their environmental impacts. In fiscal year 2023, over 23,000 major corporations, representing approx. two thirds of global market capitalization, disclosed data through CDP.

Sustainability promoter Ishikawa’s career and views

“The Ajinomoto Group has held sustainable ASV (Ajinomoto Group Creating Shared Value) management that contributes to society and the earth as its core ‘purpose’ since its founding.”

Yukiko Ishikawa first joined Ajinomoto Group as a researcher before taking a leave of absence in 2013 to live in France and raise her two children. She returned here in 2017 to start the second part of her career. She has since distinguished herself as a powerful leader within the Ajinomoto Group, drawing on her own experience related to SDGs such as “Gender Equality” and “Decent Work and Economic Growth” while spearheading initiatives to take on another, “Climate Action”.

“At that time, the Company’s re-employment system provides a lifeline to employees who leave the company and decide to come back within five years. When I was rehired, I requested a workplace in which I could use the experience I gained from living abroad and was thrilled to be placed in the Global Communications Department.”

Upon her return, Ishikawa’s first task was creating the Group’s Integrated Report (renamed ASV report as of fiscal year 2022); a critical annual report that synthesizes non-financial and financial indicators to visualize the Group’s path to growth. To do this crucial job well, Ishikawa drew heavily upon her four and a half years in France.

Her favorite café when living in France

Her favorite café when living in France

“At our neighborhood marché, produce was always displayed in wooden boxes and placed in paper bags when handed to shoppers. Eggs were stored in paper cartons that were reused many times. This made me realize just how much plastic Japanese people use in their daily lives. Europe was much more advanced in the area of ecological conservation. Learning from these life experiences laid the foundation for me to do my job now.”

French market in Autumn

Simplified packaging saves valuable resources

The road to four consecutive years on the climate change A List

The Ajinomoto Group was first listed in the CDP Climate Change A List in fiscal year 2020. The fact that we have been selected for this honor four years in a row illustrates the strong performance and reputation of the Ajinomoto Group as a leading company in climate change mitigation action.

“Simply following best practices and doing good business is not enough to make the A List. Every year, we have to craft ambitious plans and commit ourselves to their successful execution just to make the cut.”

The CDP’s ratings are held in high esteem by companies and investors worldwide, and the scoring criteria become stricter every year. Why does the Ajinomoto Group go to such great lengths to meet these high standards?

The CDP’s and the Ajinomoto Group’s goals align

“Although making the A List is of course one of our yearly objectives, we don’t go to all this effort to try to impress the CDP. I believe our Purpose, which dates back to the company’s founding, is inherently aligned with that of the CDP’s.”

The Ajinomoto Group’s Purpose is to “contribute to the well-being of all human beings, our society, and our planet with ‘AminoScience’.” Our Purpose has long been based on the ideal “Eat Well, Live Well”.

Eat Well, Live Well.

This mindset has continued and grown, leading to the establishment of our current ASV  – “Co-creation of social and economic value through our business” – thus helping us make the A List for four years running.

Towards Net Zero

The Ajinomoto Group is currently working on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by fiscal year 2030 (compared to fiscal year 2018). We are also participating in RE100, a global initiative for businesses wishing to use only renewable energy. In 2022, we began working with our suppliers to achieve an overall net zero greenhouse gas output across the entire business.

Achieving Net Zero

Three-quarters of  the Group’s total greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2) come from our overseas plants. Given this, we are proactively engaging in various specific fuel conservation measures at these sites.  One such measure is the biomass cogeneration system at our plant in Thailand; this system uses rice husks as its fuel source and represents a 1.5 billion Baht (approx. 5.7 billion Yen) ecological investment.

We are also working to establish a sustainable production cycle.

“The process by which we make our signature umami seasoning AJI-NO-MOTO® produces nutrient-rich byproducts. We use these byproducts as fertilizer for growing sugarcane, which is then used to manufacture more AJI-NO-MOTO®, thus creating a “Bio-Cycle” that also helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; this is the sort of environmental action that only a company in our unique position can achieve.”

The Ajinomoto Group Bio-cycle

Food made using fermentation technology and CO2

Ishikawa firmly believes that society must consider social and economic value as parts of one whole to protect our future.

One of the growth drivers for the Ajinomoto Group’s future business is the ‘green food’ sector, including the production of products such as cultured meat using biotechnology or microbial protein* made from CO2. The Ajinomoto Group leverages its expertise in fermentation to literally create something out of nothing.

Normally, microbes break down sugars and other organic compounds to produce protein. Using CO2 as the carbon source, however, allows a microbial production of protein that isn’t reliant on weather, location, or availability of natural resources, thus providing us with sustainable foodstuffs with minimal environmental impact. Recently, Ajinomoto Group teamed up with a Finnish food tech company to develop more offerings in this exciting and potentially profitable new product category.

Ishikawa explains that “the Ajinomoto Group maximizes the potential of its expertise to transform ingredients that you might have thought of as inedible into delicious foodstuffs, and then provides them to consumers the world over. We see this not only as a challenge that allows us to demonstrate our worth, but also as a new frontier that The Ajinomoto Group is uniquely positioned to navigate.”


* Microbial protein
Protein-rich materials produced using microbe cultures and used to produce foodstuffs.

Striving for excellent information sharing and ASV Report (Integrated Report)

Openness and transparency factor heavily into the CDP’s evaluation of the information submitted by companies. To this end, the Ajinomoto Group established a Sustainability Advisory Council and a Sustainability Committee that not only promotes sustainability-related measures but also ensures the transparency and impartiality of the information we provide.

“Every year, we devote ourselves to publishing ASV Report( Integrated Report)” says Ishikawa. “You might expect such a report to be very dry and dense with business jargon, but rest assured that we take great care to ensure that the writing is easy to understand for all of our stakeholders around the world, so give it a read. We think you’ll like what you see!”

The Ajinomoto Group is contributing to the well-being of all human beings,
our society and our planet with "AminoScience".