Udo Felten Product related Environm. S. & Affairs

Udo Felten, Mass Balancing expert and Manager Product Related Global Environmental Sustainability & Affairs

As an expert in implementing responsible processes, SIG offers sustainable solutions for its customers. Udo Felten, Manager Product Related Global Environmental Sustainability & Affairs at SIG, explains how to measure Mass Balancing:

SIG made a commitment that by no later than 2020, we would launch an aseptic carton pack made from 100% renewable, plant-based raw materials. This ecological responsibility comes from the fact that the world is facing two global challenges on a colossal scale. The first being global warming – and the second being the depletion of limited fossil resources. International brands like Coke, PepsiCo, Nestle and Danone are also having the ambition to switch from fossil-based plastic packaging to bio-based packaging.

The options to decouple from fossil resource consumption are to use recycled materials or switch to a renewable feedstock basis. The latter is exactly what SIG has done. The renewable feedstock in our case can be regrown as it is from trees from sustainable European forestry. What is even better is that the specific feedstock used in the plastic making comes from a residue of the papermaking process.

What does Mass Balancing mean?

Mass Balancing is an approach to account for materials (or a mass) entering and leaving the system, or in another word: production. This calculating methodology stems from the Sciences, e.g. chemical engineering. In our case, this approach is used by polymer producers to evaluate the output of plant-based polymers against the renewable feedstock going into their production.

This accepted approach is also utilised in other industries to manage materials or resources going into a production process. For instance, we see this in renewable energy, FSC™-certified (licence code: Forest Stewardship Council™ C020428) products and in fair traded cocoa.

Why Mass Balancing?

“A switch to renewable feedstock offers other grade options, but can only be realised in an admixing manner due to supply volume limitations.”Conventional polymer producers run large scale continuous productions, thus offering a range of different polymer grades. A switch to renewable feedstock offers other grade options, but can only be realised in an admixing manner due to supply volume limitations. Therefore, we support accepted certified Mass Balance systems. These offer to link the credits of procured renewable bio-based feedstock to polymer output via a virtual accounting system.

What this means is that the required amount of certified plant-based feedstock must be purchased by our supplier. Recognised certifications schemes trace and account for this. The credits are transferred to SIG via invoice claims, which reference the renewable feedstock basis for the renewable input in the chemical cracking operation. The credits, which are limited, can then be used in the production of our new pack and is stated on a customer’s invoice.

For many years, SIG has been a member of the European Bioplastics association. Thus, SIG has been closely following the developments and activities around bioplastics and connected biofuels. We understand the criticalities around food crop usage, animal feedstock basis, land use effects, etc. SIG also understands limitations of small-scale bioplastic productions. Such are connected to a single biomass feedstock source and provide single or small variation in plastic grade output. Together with our polymer suppliers, we thus created a sustainable solution by using a residue from the papermaking – tall oil.

SIG cooperate with polymer suppliers who – as we – believe in the Mass Balance approach. Including its potential for an industry transformation and its wider polymer grade options. These polymer suppliers have their production plants in Europe. Additionally, they are certified by recognised organisations.

Who certifies it?

” Like with FSC™ certification for our paperboard, SIG placed great importance on responsible and certified sourcing in addition to a credible traceability system for the mass balanced renewable material approach.”SIG decided to become ISCC Plus certified (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) for all European carton and closure production sites. This provides a well-accepted set of traceability and feedstock certification standards. Also, this includes a mass balance system to credit for renewable feedstock use. Furthermore, we accept the CMS71 standard from TÜV SÜD, which similarly offers traceability via Mass Balancing. We trust in these well-accepted standards, which are audited at the certified companies by independent organisations.

For the ISCC PLUS certification to be valid for the finished SIGNATURE PACK, SIG had to set up a separate operational (work-flow) structure. This was to ensure the important chain of custody within the supply chain. Like with FSC™ certification for our paperboard, SIG placed great importance on responsible and certified sourcing. This is in addition to a credible traceability system for the mass balanced renewable material approach. Overall, this approach supports a transitioning from a conventional polymer industry towards a bio-based one, thus promoting an increased use of renewable feedstock in a responsible manner. All this while not promoting only one or two available polymer grades.

A positive approach

SIG was the first company to offer an alu-free aseptic carton package to the market. By removing the aluminium barrier and replacing it with an alternative polymer barrier, SIG improved the, already best-in-class, carbon footprint of our carton by another 28%. Therefore, replacing petroleum-based plastics with renewable bio-based plastics is a logical next step forward.

SIG’s goal is to utilise polymers that are sourced from sustainable plant-based materials and have a 100% renewable feedstock testate. One of the ambitions, led by our Net Positive vision, is to drive a transition from the conventional polymer industry towards a sustainable and bio-based one.

With SIG’s new solution, we can support our customers’ sustainability strategy. We do this with a more sustainable packaging. This packaging reinforces a brand’s value and meets the evermore environmentally conscious consumers, who are expecting sustainable products as a must from brands.
This is an important step for SIG on its WAY BEYOND GOOD and the ambition to become Net Positive. A win-win for the planet, the people and industry.

Do you want to know more about our responsibility approach? Then please write us an email, leave a comment or give us a call.

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