Michael Hecker

Michael Hecker, Head of Corporate Responsibility at SIG

Millions of people depend on us to keep the food and drink inside our packs safe, which is a responsibility we take very seriously. After all, our corporate purpose is: Partnering with our customers to bring food products to consumers around the world in a safe, sustainable and affordable way.

Our packs are made of 75% renewable paper board on average, produced from trees grown in responsibly managed forests. When the pack’s job is done it can be recycled and the materials reused.

But we believe our responsibilities go even further. This is because we share responsibility for the planet and its people. In particular, our customers, consumers, the people that work for SIG and our suppliers, and those that influence our business.

That’s why we are determined to go WAY BEYOND GOOD

This is easy for us to say but we must prove the substance behind the slogan. That’s why our net positive ambition is part of our business strategy – the Corporate Compass that guides us in everything we do. Our purpose and values are at the heart of the Compass. And three key ambitions on responsibility define the way we run our company, source our raw materials and design our products.

We have set formal long-term improvement goals in these three areas. Each is supported by shorter-term targets to drive progress and measure our performance year on year to 2020 and beyond. These are part of our responsibility roadmap, which sets out clear focus areas, each with their own work streams, specific targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress.

Long-term ambition

Our roadmap is part of our long-term ambition to use natural resources wisely and to make sure that we put more into the planet and society than we take out. This restorative ambition is known as being Net Positive.

This is a big and complex idea but we are not alone in our ambition and we are working in partnership with others to agree methodologies and metrics as part of the global Net Positive Project, which is jointly managed by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Forum for the Future, an independent non-profit organisation working globally with business, government and other organisations to solve complex sustainability challenges. We are proud to be a Forum member.

Conforming to standards

“We only buy from paper mills that comply with the strict standards of the FSC and we now source enough FSC-certified liquid packaging board for our customers to use the FSC logo on any of our packs.”

A good example of a restorative action is the work of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (licence code: FSC™ C020428) which sets management standards that ensures that forests certified to those standards are sustainable in the long term. This applies to the environmental and social aspects of managing forests. We only buy from paper mills that comply with the strict standards of the FSC and we now source enough FSC-certified liquid packaging board for our customers to use the FSC logo on any of our packs.

We value third-party sustainability standards because they help us improve efficiency and promote quality. That’s why we comply, for example, with the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 and the Global Reporting Initiative G4 reporting guidelines, as well as seeking inspiration from and supporting the UN Global Compact, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Science Based Targets Initiative. By 2018, we plan to have our own science-based target in place – across our value chain – to support global efforts to keep global warming below 2°C to prevent the worst effects of climate change. But first we must develop a clear methodology to measure our value chain carbon footprint and establish a baseline.

Defining clear metrics

“Once we have completed this methodology, we will extend the model to other environmental impacts and explore appropriate metrics to define our overall environmental footprint.”

By 2030, we intend to halve the environmental impacts across our value chain and double the benefits to society from our business. Our first step is to understand our environmental footprint and the societal benefits we provide across our value chain – from forests and suppliers to our own operations, customer use of filling machines, and consumer use and disposal of our packs.

We are developing a methodology to measure our environmental footprint across our value chain, starting with our greenhouse gas emissions. Initial estimates, based on the categories defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, show that more than 80% of our value chain emissions lie outside our own operations, in the extraction and production of raw materials, the transport of materials to SIG and distribution of products to customers, use of filling machines in our customers’ factories and recycling of cartons after use.

Once we have completed this methodology, we will extend the model to other environmental impacts and explore appropriate metrics to define our overall environmental footprint. Furthermore, we will explore how best to define and measure the societal benefits our business can contribute across our value chain.

We contribute to society by supporting our employees and communities, demanding fair treatment of workers and communities in our supply chain, and supporting access to safe, sustainable and affordable nutrition by helping our customers deliver food and drinks to consumers around the world.

Measuring these types of impact is more challenging as metrics on social impacts are less well defined and can be difficult to measure. In 2017, we plan to develop a way to measure the societal benefits we deliver so we can establish a baseline and track progress towards our goal to double these benefits by 2030.

Building on strong foundations

“We encourage our own suppliers to undergo the same rigorous assessments as part of our commitment to work with suppliers that uphold high ethical standards and share our net positive approach.”

We have always been a responsible company. This means minimising our environmental footprint with clear targets to cut energy and waste rates; supporting our employees and improving engagement levels year on year; keeping our people safe by targeting a zero lost-time case rate; upholding high standards of governance and ethics with regular training on our Code of Conduct and SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) Members Ethical Trade Audits; and contributing to our communities through education programmes and other support.

Our commitment to uphold fundamental corporate responsibilities is recognised by external benchmarks. We have achieved EcoVadis Gold status, which puts us in the top 5% of participating companies, based on a detailed independent assessment of our policies, processes and performance on environment, social, ethics and supply chain criteria. And as a member of the SEDEX, our production sites are externaly audited regularly to assess working conditions, health and environmental protection, and ethical business practices.

We encourage our own suppliers to undergo the same rigorous assessments as part of our commitment to work with suppliers that uphold high ethical standards and share our net positive approach. We set out our requirements for all suppliers in our Business Ethics Code for Suppliers, based on the Ethical Trade Initiative, which we are including in all new and renewed contracts with significant suppliers. And we are working to define a way to determine whether suppliers share our net positive commitment.

Our focus on responsible sourcing is critical to meet customer demand for responsibly sourced packaging and to help secure a sustainable supply of energy and raw materials to ensure the long term resilience of our business.

We already source 100% of our liquid packaging board from FSC-certified paper mills and at least 70% from FSC-certified forests, and we have begun exploring options for certification of our other key materials, polymers and aluminium. From 2017, all the electrical power we use in our production plants worldwide comes from renewable energy sources.

Creating the most sustainable solutions

“We are committed to create a 100% renewable aseptic pack and our combibloc EcoPlus pack already contains 82% renewable materials and produces 28% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the current standard pack.”

By 2030 we are determined to offer the most sustainable packaging solutions available on the market. Innovation is the key to realising this ambitious goal, and it must be proven through rigorous lifecycle assessments.

We evaluate the environmental performance of our packs using lifecycle assessments conducted by independent experts following the recognised ISO 14040 international standard and critically reviewed by independent experts. Based on these assessments, our cartons already offer better environmental performance than alternatives such as glass and plastic bottles, and cans.

We consider environmental impacts of our products and services at every stage of the lifecycle – from our choice of materials to making, designing our pack, filling and transporting packs, and their ability to be recycled after use. We are working hard to reduce the lifecycle environmental footprint of our cartons by using materials from sustainable sources, minimising the impacts of our own production lines and making our filling machines as efficient as possible. And we are cutting the impacts of our packs even further through innovative product design.

We are committed to create a 100% renewable aseptic pack and our combibloc EcoPlus pack already contains 82% renewable materials and produces 28% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the current standard pack (from cradle to gate). Our latest innovation, the combibloc RS, offers a robust alternative to conventional pack designs that cuts material use and reduces the carbon footprint by 5% from cradle to gate for 1 litre packs and by 6% for 200ml packs. These reductions are quantified through rigorous lifecycle assessments.

Our route to responsibility

The rigour of going Way Beyond Good makes us a better business, better connected to the needs of society and the environment. And, of course, a better partner for our customers.

 

Want to know more about our responsibility efforts? Give us a call, comment or e-mail us.

SIGnals

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