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Coloring the world

Article - April 1, 2023

Using its unique technologies, Sumika Color is bringing its solutions to new markets


“We have the expertise to improve the performance of plastic materials.”

Toshiro Kojima, President, Sumika Color Co., Ltd.

A chemical solutions company best known for developing its unique palletization technology, Sumika Color was established in 1950 and is an established international presence with bases in China, Taiwan, as well as Japan.

However, as the country faces well-documented demographic issues, Sumika president Toshiro Kojima is focused on ensuring that the company continues to thrive.

“Going forward,” he says, “it’s important to look into talent from overseas markets. We also need to use more female workers. In factories, meanwhile, we have to promote digitization and automation using AI.”

The latter in particular has the potential to appeal to a younger workforce, for whom the chemical industry has not always been synonymous with innovation.

Also on the agenda according to Mr. Kojima is a new business related to materials derived from biomass and plastics recycling.

“Right now a lot of companies are targeting carbon neutrality,” he states. “Biomass plastic is currently weaker and less durable than its petroleum-based counterpart, but we are looking at ways to improve those weaknesses using our technology. If we can achieve that, we can expect the consumption of non-petroleum plastic to increase.”

Given its lower barriers to entry, one potential application for biomass-based plastic is laptops, but in time, Mr. Kojima hopes to expand into the automotive industry, which still represents the company’s dominant customer base.

Looking to the future, Mr. Kojima is keen to enhance Sumika’s presence in China, with increased capacity in the field of research and development, and a focus on lowering its environmental impact.

With TSMC, the largest manufacturer of semiconductors, currently based in Taiwan, there is potential for Sumika to diversify operations into the semiconductor industry, while the prospect of a technological license agreement with Tah Kong Chemical Industrial Corporation may also present opportunities in neighboring Vietnam.

It is a development that may prove vital in restoring Japan’s competitive edge in a chemical industry that accounts for 10% of GDP.