Europe, Planet, Natural Capital & The Environment

SIG in society

SIG | May 27, 2019

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At SIG we are focused on tackling one of the world’s most urgent challenges. With a growing population placing ever more demands on scarce environmental resources, it is imperative we find new ways to build a sustainable food supply system. Meeting the demand for safe, sustainable and affordable food and beverage options can have unintended consequences, like depleting natural resources, polluting our environment, and contributing to climate change.

We have a unique opportunity to make a difference that goes way beyond simply being good corporate citizens – and instead aims to leave the world better than we found it. We believe a truly sustainable food supply system needs to be net positive in its contribution to society.

As a packaging company we approach this in three distinct ways:

First, we seek to make a positive contribution to the resource challenge. Our paper-based packs are made from an inherently renewable raw material which can be re-used at the end of its life cycle. Our paper board comes from responsible certified sources, which ensures that we’re regenerating rather than depleting scarce natural assets – and that we’re helping to tackle climate change by investing in forests, the world’s most effective carbon sinks. We call this Resource positive.

Secondly, our aseptic carton technology allows our customers to make the most of the world’s precious agricultural output by preserving its nutritional value for a long time. The long ambient shelf life together with the lowest filling waste rate in the industry helps to tackle food waste and the role it plays in climate change. And with no need for refrigeration and a cold chain as goods are transported and stored, we’re also cutting energy usage and carbon emissions in the food supply chain. We call this Nutrition positive.

And finally, our role at the heart of the distribution system lets us collaborate with customers, suppliers, communities, employees, and other stakeholders to develop a truly circular economy and waste free society: working together to reduce carbon footprints and waste, building effective recycling systems, and empowering people to live more sustainable lives. We call this Society positive.

Making this positive impact on resources, nutrition and society requires ambitious action. We have a long history of industry-first sustainable innovations, but we are impatient to do more, particularly as the scale of the global challenge only grows. 

Taking renewable resource use as an example, the current worldwide concern over single-use plastic packaging made out of finite fossil resources creates an opportunity to demand that all companies commit to using more renewable materials, and regenerative processes which leave ecosystems better than we found them. Mounting concern over climate change is also rightly drawing attention to environmental impacts along the production cycle; not just what happens after a product is used. We are proud that our paper-based cartons have among the lowest carbon footprints along the lifecycle compared to other materials like plastic, glass and metal.

From this ambition also flows our decision to work with our customers to continue building a more circular and carbon neutral, and ultimately carbon positive packaging system. We’re driving responsible sourcing practices – particularly with forestry suppliers who are stewards of such an important carbon sink. We work with aluminum foil suppliers to accelerate transformation to renewable energy and best sourcing practices along the supply chain. And we’re broadening the source of our feedstocks with plant-based polymers and bio-resins with the clear goal to be fossil-independent in our packaging. 

When it comes to the products our customers put inside our packs, we are similarly not resting on our laurels. Our technology means nutritious food can be filled, stored and transported safely and affordably without refrigeration, preservatives or wastage. Through our ‘Cartons for Good’ project we are creating a new model that applies our technology and expertise to address continued inefficiencies in the system and to enable communities to reduce food loss by preserving surplus harvests locally, particularly in lower-income countries where farmers can benefit hugely from better access to mobile filling units.

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