With the need for more sustainable manufacturing never been greater, certified traceability with mass balancing is emerging as the smart and proven solution to make a real difference

Cutting carbon isn’t easy. Despite increased global efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, CO2 emissions rose to an all-time high of 32.5 gigatons in 2017, amounting to a 1.4% increase. In fact, over 70% of the global energy demand last year was met by oil, natural gas, and coal. Hence, placing an ever-greater strain on the world’s climate.

If we are to keep global warming from exceeding 2°C, industries in particular have a huge responsibility to find more sustainable ways of producing. But how? A growing solution is certified traceability with mass balancing. It’s a great opportunity to gradually shift all the products we produce from fossil to renewable, and with as little impact on the planet and economy.

Mass balancing originates in chemical engineering. It is a proven approach for sourcing sustainable ingredients, accounting for materials (or a mass) entering and leaving a production system. So, in a mass balance system, manufacturers can gradually replace fossil with renewable materials. Also, they can mix, track and evaluate both quantities when producing products.

By supporting a transition from fossil to bio-based raw materials, mass balancing can be a key driver in creating more sustainable industries in the future. And, over time, could see fossil resources replaced entirely with renewable. Several industries are already benefiting from the mass balance method, from chemical producers and chocolate companies to coffee manufacturers and electricity providers.

Leading the sustainable way

In the food and beverage industry, SIG is playing a leading role in creating more sustainable products. These reduce their environmental impact. Its SIGNATURE PACK is the world’s first aseptic pack linked to 100% plant-based renewable materials and is made possible by certified traceability with mass balancing.

During the pack’s plastic-making process, plant-based biomaterial is used as the raw material instead of fossil resources. This material is tall oil, which comes from trees and is a renewable plant source. Tall oil was selected as the feedstock. Because, as a by-product of paper production, it’s a waste material rather than an agricultural crop requiring land and resources to grow.

So, with a SIGNATURE PACK product, a matching amount of fossil materials needed to produce the pack has been replaced with fully renewable plant-based material. In addition, SIGNATURE PACK’s use of renewable materials and residues contributes to the so-called circular bio-economy. The transformation towards a bio-based society where raw materials, production and waste are elements in a sustainable cycle. And where biomass is key.

Setting innovation records

SIGNATURE PACK’s environmental benefits mean its carbon footprint is on average 66% lower than a standard SIG carton format. It’s an achievement that’s been recognised by a critically reviewed ISO-conformant lifecycle assessment (LCA) – the first in the world for a mass balanced product, proving how valuable SIG’s mass balance approach could be in making mainstream polymer production more sustainable in the future.

The results for SIGNATURE PACK show that SIG’s innovative mass balance approach has significant environmental benefits – not only in climate change, but in all 10 assessed impact categories.

The environmental impacts of every product innovation at SIG are evaluated through Europe-wide LCAs that conform with the rigorous requirements of recognised ISO standards,” says Udo Felten, SIG’s manager of product-related global environmental sustainability and affairs. “The results for SIGNATURE PACK show that SIG’s innovative mass balance approach has significant environmental benefits – not only in climate change but in all 10 assessed impact categories.

Felten also highlights how SIG’s mass balance not only brings environmental benefits. It also offers customers the product quality and functionality of polymer grades that are today only available through mainstream production. This means SIG can help drive the widespread use of more sustainable plastics. Ultimately, this is good for its customers, consumers, and the environment.

Read the full story of the new SIGNATURE PACK LCA and how SIGNATURE PACK was created. You can also contact us to find out more and also learn about SIG’s responsibility mission called WAY BEYOND GOOD.

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