On August 29, 2018, Casio signed a “Tokyo Waterworks: Corporate Forest (Naming Rights)” agreement with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks.
Based on this agreement, 2.46 hectares of water source forest (located in Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture) managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks were officially named the “Casio Forest.” Casio contributes to the maintenance and management of the water source forest and provides opportunities to employees to volunteer. In fiscal 2019, a sign was set up on-site and then, as the first activity, in October, employees and other volunteers prepared the site and conducted a survey to produce a map of the area. As the second activity, in November, birdhouses made from FSC®-certified Japanese cedar were set up in the area.
In the second year of activities, 2019, as the first activity of the year, in May, broad-leaf trees (Japanese maple and Mongolian oak) were planted and the “Hundred Year Forest” managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks was toured. The area of the water source forest managed by the Bureau of Waterworks had become deforested for a time during the confusion of the Meiji Restoration, and various forest functions declined as a result. Later, however, through the efforts of the Bureau of Waterworks, conservation activities were started, and they have continued for over 100 years. This area, covering some 24,000 hectares, plays an important role in conservation of the global environment, with functions related to various social issues such as conservation of biodiversity and absorption of CO2 in addition to watershed protection. The part that we have agreed to look after—the Casio Forest—is no more than about one-ten-thousandth of that area. Even so, it takes a lot of hard work to manage this amount of land, bringing home the realization of just how immense is the task of managing the whole water source forest.
After finishing the tree planting, the main work in the Casio Forest after spring 2019 was summer weeding. Weeding, which needs to be continued for several years after tree planting, is the most back-breaking work in growing a forest. It could also be described as the perfect opportunity to learn first-hand why forests across the country have become degraded.
The contributions to social issues that companies are expected to make to help achieve the SDGs must go beyond just grasping social issues as mere knowledge; each and every employee must embrace various social issues their own and address them earnestly. On-site experiences in the Casio Forest lead to deeper understanding of the needs and level of difficulty of social issues and can be used as an outside-in trigger to create new business activities that will contribute solutions. Additionally, in the near future, Casio will make use of multi-stakeholder partnerships related to the company to search for solutions to complex social issues that are too difficult to solve alone.
Arakawa River Clean-aid
The focus on the problem of plastic waste in the oceans has been growing year by year. It has been known for a long time that plastic waste causes adverse effects, for example, when eaten mistakenly by ocean creatures. However, one cause of the increasing attention given to this problem in recent years is the fact that microplastic (less than 5 mm), created through the action of ultraviolet light and waves breaking plastic waste released into the oceans down into fine particles, could result in hazardous substances dissolved in seawater becoming concentrated up through the food chain of ocean creatures. As for methods to dispose of plastic waste, methods that rely on combustion cannot avoid the generation of CO2, which causes concern about climate change. While the effects on human health of consuming marine products have not been elucidated in detail, if a precautionary approach is to be taken, the same as with climate change, measures must be implemented on a global scale before it is too late.
In order to deepen awareness of this social issue from the perspective of biodiversity, Casio held an investigational clean up (collecting garbage while counting each type of garbage) in the lower basin of the Arakawa River on July 12, 2018 in conjunction with classroom learning commissioned from Arakawa Clean-aid Forum (ACF), an NPO that has been working the problem of garbage in the rivers and seas for over 20 years.
In intense heat, 12 employees collected garbage washed ashore for an hour over an 85m stretch with the objective of personalizing social issues through onsite experience and exploring contributions through core business. The employees collected 34 bags (45 liters) of garbage, mainly food trays and plastic bottles. From this initiative, each participant learned the serious reality that large volumes of plastic flow into the sea via the river. Much of this garbage is used containers and packaging. As Casio uses plastic in its products and packaging materials, the company cannot claim that it is not involved in the problem of marine pollution. Spurred by this experience, Casio will continue to examine initiatives.
Furthermore, making use of this experience, in the biodiversity working group of Japan’s four electrical and electronic industry associations, Casio proposed an “investigational clean up,” which was implemented in March 2019.
The results of the investigational clean up were included in some of the data compiled by Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN) via ACF and will be used as reference materials for the policies of government agencies, including the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
In-house Lecture on the Problem of Ocean Waste
The problem of ocean waste is becoming worse around the world. To spread awareness within the company of this issue, Casio invited Professor Shigeru Fujieda of Kagoshima University’s Regional Co-creation Center For Industry and Society, who has studied this problem for many years, to give a talk, entitled “Let’s Think about the Problem of Ocean Waste,” at a company-wide environmental conference held in May 2019. Professor Fujieda, who is also a director of the Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN), has continued to visit various locations around Japan to investigate the sources of ocean waste. His research tracking sources of waste internationally, focusing on lighters handed out at eating and drinking establishments (with the name and phone numbers of the establishments printed on the lighters) as an original survey method, was very helpful to know as a company that conducts business globally. Professor Fujieda also stressed the importance of “knowing the problem + taking action.” In light of the need to continually collect ocean waste and reduce its generation, Professor Fujieda revealed expectations on Casio, including corporate support for activities and the use of technology to contribute to solutions.