SIG published its first Corporate Responsibility Report, introducing the company’s commitment to go Way Beyond Good by giving more back to society and the environment than it takes out. We asked Fiona Dowson, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future, to review the report and she shares her views in this guest blog:
SIG’s 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report is the company’s first, but it is robust and well supported with external verification. It is clear from the report that SIG is both ambitious and organised – a great combination which is enabling the company to take significant steps forward on its sustainability journey in a short time.
It is particularly good to see the strong net positive commitment and the importance placed on becoming a successful, net positive business from the very top of the business. Through its innovation programme, SIG is making headway in developing more sustainable packaging solutions and is aiming to deliver a 100% renewable pack by 2020.
SIG has an opportunity to leap-frog many continuous improvement steps – and avoid the investment these may involve – if the company integrates its ‘Way Beyond Good’ ambition effectively into its innovation approach. Its ambition to supply the most sustainable food and beverage packaging on the market by 2030 will also be a great driver of innovation that seems likely to underpin the success of the business in the long term.
SIG is exploring opportunities to reduce the life-cycle impacts of its packaging. While its packs are made largely from renewable wood, the small amount of aluminium used as a barrier material has been identified as a significant source of environmental impact. In response they have created the EcoPlus pack which avoids the need for aluminium altogether – a solution which in the long-term could eliminate its use of aluminium and the associated impacts. The company is also exploring a sustainable certified supply of aluminium to mitigate value chain impacts from the use of this material across their existing product portfolio in the shorter term
“It is particularly good to see the strong net positive commitment and the importance placed on becoming a successful, net positive business from the very top of the business.”
Another strong point is the commitment to significant sustainability improvements across the value chain – from sustainable sourcing of raw materials to efficient use of SIG’s filling machines and end consumers’ ability to recycle packs.
The commitment and progress towards sustainable raw materials sourcing is something to be proud of, for example, the industry first of sourcing all packaging board, the key raw material used to make its packs, from FSC™-certified forests. Its commitment to encourage customers to label packs with the FSC™ logo will also help to make this approach more mainstream and raise consumer expectations.
By taking this wider view across the value chain, SIG is opening up new opportunities to deliver on its commitments. Bringing a good awareness of value chain impacts into SIG’s innovation will no doubt drive more sustainable product developments in future, delivering benefits that will be valued by its customers and end-consumers alike. The company could also consider opportunities to eliminate carbon emissions from its raw materials supply chain.
Rigorous science-based approach
SIG’s plan to set science-based targets in 2018 for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, including scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, is a brilliant sign of the company’s commitment to becoming a net positive business and to taking action that is appropriate to the scale of the global climate challenge we face. Targets set using this rigorous science-based approach aim to maintain temperature increases below 2 degrees. Leading businesses like SIG could consider going even further by setting targets based on the 1.5 degree warming that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change acknowledged as more desirable. Delivering such a goal is a challenging prospect for any business because it would require radical carbon cuts within the next few years but is a potential driver of innovation and business value and is well aligned to their ‘Way Beyond Good’ ambition.
It is commendable that SIG is being fully transparent about where its impacts are and what data is being reported. While it will still be useful to show year on year trends within the existing set of sites that are reported on, the next step is to include all sites in its reporting, including the New Zealand paper mill, and put in place clear plans to reduce emissions across the whole business. We would also like to see stronger performance in its reduction in energy use per pack in the future, particularly once the new heat and power plant, installed at the Linnich site in 2016, is fully operational.
Decoupling growth from emissions
Achieving renewable power at all production and assembly plants from 2017 is an important step towards driving the urgently needed decarbonisation of our economy.
“We would also like to see stronger performance in its reduction in energy use per pack in the future, particularly once the new heat and power plant, installed at the Linnich site in 2016, is fully operational.”
It is part of SIG’s path towards decoupling growth from emissions, which we agree is the right path to be on. An even bigger step would be looking to go beyond sourcing 100% renewable energy for its plants to start generating more energy that the company needs to help society transition to a radically low carbon future.
Overall, SIG demonstrates many of the qualities that we at Forum for the Future encourage businesses to adopt – qualities which can underpin successful business strategy and sustained performance. They have laid the foundations for their net positive journey and I look forward to seeing how they build on these, accelerate progress on this journey and address their most material issues with bold actions that are proportionate to the scale of the sustainability challenges we collectively face now and increasingly in the future.
What do you have in mind regarding your or our responsibility ambitions? Write us an email, leave a comment or give us a call.