Unicharm is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of baby diapers and sanitary napkins, with leading market share in Japan and many fast-growing markets throughout Southeast Asia. The company is also the dominant player in Japan’s adult incontinence products and in the pet food markets.
We like Unicharm for its significant scale in purchasing raw materials, its marketing and distribution capabilities, and its strong consumer brands. While Unicharm’s high-quality products make childcare and nursing care easier and more convenient for its customers, the manufacturing and disposal of these products are closely linked to various environmental issues, including the production of greenhouse gas emissions and forest degradation.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry noted that in 2018, Japan produced about 23.5 billion disposable diapers (15.1 billion for babies and 8.4 billion for adults), which weighs about 880,000 tonnes. According to the company, disposable diapers account for about one-eighth of total household trash, the majority of which is collected and incinerated as combustible waste, driving up carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.