With the world’s climate and natural resource crisis growing, all businesses must act now to make a more positive impact on our planet, says SIG’s CEO Rolf Stangl
No one could have seen the latest United Nations warning on biodiversity and fail to be struck by the scale of the challenge now facing the planet. This recent study warns that a million species are at risk of extinction without radical action to conserve the earth’s disappearing natural resources.
Yet the world’s current pattern of economic growth risks making matters worse, not better. Rising populations and resource consumption place a growing strain on our climate and ecosystems. Reducing the impact of additional consumption is no longer enough. We must find ways of creating a circular economy that adds to the planet’s capacity to sustain life; not merely reduces how much we take away.
Realising net positive
So what does a ‘net positive’ approach from business look like? For a company like SIG, this is a particularly acute challenge. Though we strive to be different, critics still see our industry as facilitators of the throw-away society. And as we expand into developing markets seeking higher living standards, we’re on the frontline to build a more sustainable and affordable supply system.
It’s why we’re supporting the Responsible Business Forum on Climate Innovation in Hainan, China (23-24 May) – a forum to discuss zero-carbon and circular economy solutions for a sustainable, climate-resilient future. It’s a big challenge but by sharing ideas and leading by example, we hope the conference can serve as a catalyst for companies everywhere to think more collaboratively.
A sustainable supply
The key issue for SIG is how to create a net positive food supply system. Our role today is supplying manufacturers with technology for packing products in aseptic cartons – an inherently more sustainable system than many alternatives. Our packs are made mainly from renewable paperboard from certified sources, but we’re working hard to improve recycling rates and design out other materials such as fossil plastic and aluminium.
Another challenge is food waste. Aseptic carton technology allows farmers to make the most of precious agricultural output by preserving nutritional value. The long ambient shelf life together with the industry’s lowest filling waste rate helps tackle the impact of food waste. And with no need for refrigeration during transportation and storage, we’re also cutting energy and emissions.
Committing to collaborate
Our role at the heart of the distribution system enables us to collaborate with everyone from customers to communities to develop a waste-free society: working together to reduce carbon footprints and build effective recycling systems. And the current global concern over single-use plastics is an opportunity to ensure all companies commit to using more renewable materials.
Building a zero-waste society and circular economy requires a sustained effort by all involved in the supply chain. That’s why we want to halve our environmental footprint by 2030 and double our contribution to society as part of our commitment to go Way Beyond Good. Because unless we decouple growth from environmental impact and ensure we leave ecosystems and society stronger than we found them, it won’t just be business which struggles to survive.
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