From product carbon footprint to corporate carbon footprint. We have set a highly ambitious goal to halve our environmental footprint and double our societal impact by 2030. Reducing our contribution to climate change is a big part of meeting this goal. How are we doing it? Our in-house carbon footprint expert, Dr Christian Bauer, Manager Environmental Affairs and Product related Sustainability, answers five essential questions.
1. Why is SIG focused on climate change?
For many years, we have been boosting the environmental performance of our main product, the beverage carton pack. This mainly by constantly improving resource efficiency and increasing the use of responsibly-sourced renewable raw materials. We use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool to determine all relevant environmental impacts during the life of our carton packs. An important LCA metric is Global Warming Potential – the carbon footprint – which is directly linked to climate change.
Climate change is of great concern to society, including our customers and consumers. Therefore, we are determined to respond by reducing our emissions. With the recent Paris Agreement, most nations have agreed to take action to keep the global temperature increase below 2°C. Also, they have called for action by individuals, nations and business to contribute their share.
In 2017, for the first time, we reported an estimate of all greenhouse gas emissions in our value chain. This includes the purchase of raw materials, transportation, product use and disposal.
2. How does SIG measure its corporate carbon footprint?
We measure our corporate greenhouse gas emissions by using the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. This GHG Protocol provides a framework to quantify and account for all GHGs emitted by an organisation
In 2016, building on our track record in LCA, we began collecting data for a full account of emissions in our value chain. This was to establish a baseline from which to improve. We use the categories of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as defined by the GHG Protocol, which are:
Scope 1: Direct emissions – carbon emissions that are owned or controlled by SIG. These occur when we combust fossil fuels in our own operations, for example when using natural gas to melt polymer granules in our production plants.
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from energy consumption. When we buy electricity from the grid, we must ask ourselves: how was the energy produced? Did it come from a gas-fired power station? – or from a wind farm? What are the associated emissions?
Scope 3: Other indirect emissions – or ‘everything else’. These emissions may occur as a consequence of our operations but are not necessarily directly controlled by us. Examples include the extraction and production of raw materials, the transport of materials and products to and from our sites by third parties, the use of our filling machines in our customers’ factories, and end-of-life treatment of our products. Our LCA experience shows that the emissions associated with the production of our raw materials contribute significantly to our GHG emissions profile.
3. How big is your corporate carbon footprint?
“We are working with our materials suppliers to increase the precision of our estimates and to improve the data quality in other relevant categories.”
In our recent CR report, we disclosed GHG volumes for scope 1 and 2, having tracked these since 2014. For Scope 3, we analysed the importance of categories defined by the GHG Protocol. In total, our estimated corporate carbon footprint, including the value chain, amounts to 1.5 million tons CO2– equivalent annually. About 90% of our emissions are not under our operational control, falling under scope 3, with almost 70% of these associated with the goods and services we buy.
Other important categories include the use of our filling machines and the end-of-life of our cartons if they are not recycled. We are working with our materials suppliers to increase the precision of our estimates and to improve the data quality in other relevant categories.
We have existing targets to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Furthermore, now we are setting science-based targets for emission reduction in all three categories. These targets are approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, ensuring that the emission reductions are sufficiently ambitious to contribute to the Paris Agreement. We joined the Initiative in 2016 and are obliged to disclose a target two years after joining.
4. What are SIG´s carbon reduction projects?
We will continue to focus on reducing carbon emissions associated with our carton packs since this is where we have influence and control and can make the biggest difference. Thus, we are continuing to select alternative structure recipes for our packages to reduce the use of materials and the weight of our packs.
For example, the combibloc RS: for customers, the use of the new standard structure means a further improvement in our system robustness. The fact that alternative polymers are required also reduces the overall weight of the package, which in turn has a positive effect on environmental performance. This is by avoiding up to 6% of GHG emissions during its lifecycle, compared with our recent standard pack – which it already started to replace. And of course, the proven quality and product safety will be maintained.
We also have developed combibloc EcoPlus, a carton with a smaller carbon footprint (measured cradle to gate) compared with our standard pack. Like our standard pack, SIG’s combibloc EcoPlus offers high product performance but even with a 28% smaller carbon footprint, due to a polyamide barrier that replaces aluminium foil.
“Like our standard pack combibloc EcoPlus offers a high product performance but even with a 28% smaller carbon footprint, due to a polyamide barrier that replaces aluminium foil.”Of course, we also work together with our suppliers to further cut greenhouse gas emissions in our supply chain. We have revisited our environmental strategy and extended our focus to include our entire value chain. Some of our larger suppliers have also joined the Science-Based Targets Initiative. Our filling systems are integral to the way packs are used. Also, we constantly look at how we can reduce the demand for utilities. Cutting the use of electricity and sterilizers, such as hydrogen peroxide, contributes to lower GHG emissions overall as an example.
Using low-carbon electricity can make a big difference. All our production sites in Europe, South America, China and the Asia-Pacific region have been using 100% certified renewable electricity since 2017. Thus resulting in a huge reduction in our Scope 2 emissions.
Technical and engineering improvements are important. Yet, so are changing our culture and the way we operate. Hence, we’re rolling out behaviour-change programmes to encourage our employees to work with us to save energy. For example, we do this by turning off energy-intensive processes when they are not in use.
5. What are the benefits for SIG’s customers?
By choosing SIG’s constantly improving solutions, our customers can immediately and with no effort reduce their own Scope 3 emissions. The packaging materials they purchase qualify as purchased goods and services, which makes this possible. Also, by improving our filling lines we can help reduce customers’ energy consumption, which would be accounted for in scope 2. Of course, we prevent product losses, reduce the demand on utilities and thereby further decrease the associated emission load by further increasing the efficiency of the filling system.
Apart from these direct advantages, we offer a packaging solution which is recognized as environmentally friendly. Connecting the renewability of our carton packs to their low carbon footprint contributes to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, it helps our customers and consumers reduce their carbon footprints.
Do you want to know more about SIG’s Way Beyond Good? Write us an email, leave a comment or give us a call.