Responsible business review
CO2 scope 1 and 2 emissions (t)
Going WAY BEYOND GOOD
Choosing a SIG carton is like planting a tree – it makes the world a better place. That is our vision, and our WAY BEYOND GOOD ambitions will help us make it a reality.
It is our mission to create food packaging that makes the world a better place by
- expanding forests across the world,
- taking carbon from the atmosphere,
- creating more resources for future generations, and
- ensuring nutrition and hydration comes safely to ever more people.
These far-reaching ambitions focus on four action areas that together will produce the biggest positive impact – for the environment, society and our business. All four action areas are interconnected. Each nurtures the others and all are needed to achieve sustainable change.
Building on strong foundations
We started developing fully recyclable carton packs made mostly from renewable materials many years ago. These are part of a highly efficient and versatile filling system that cuts food loss and helps customers meet fast-changing consumer needs.
Five years ago, we committed to becoming a net-positive company – giving more to society and the environment than we take out. We call this going WAY BEYOND GOOD. In 2020, we completed the first phase of our roadmap. Now we are setting new targets for 2025 and beyond.
Our approach covers all aspects of sustainability: social, environmental, economic and governance. It affects everything we do – on our own and with our suppliers, customers and stakeholders. WAY BEYOND GOOD is an integral part of our business strategy, our compass, and senior managers are responsible for implementing specific workstreams and targets.
With sustainability firmly embedded at the heart of our business, we continue to drive systemic change to become a net positive business and help create a net positive, regenerative food packaging system.
We will build on our responsible culture and industry-leading sustainable innovation to push forward with WAY BEYOND GOOD. We’re developing a clear roadmap to get us there. And we will partner with stakeholders to accelerate positive change.
Throughout this journey, our bold ambitions will help us maintain our momentum as we learn along the way and evolve our approach to overcome challenges and maximise impact as we get ever-closer to our vision.
Today, all our raw paperboard is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Next we are focused on greatly expanding sustainable forestry across the world.
Sustainably managed forests help to preserve vital ecosystem functions, support biodiversity and provide a wide range of essentials – from renewable raw materials to oxygen in the air we breathe. Worldwide, one in five people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests also have a critical role to play in tackling climate change because trees store carbon as they grow. The UN aims not only to prevent further deforestation but to expand global forest area by 3% – or around 120 million hectares – by 2030.
By sourcing renewable raw materials from sustainably managed forests, we are helping forests – and the communities that depend on them – to thrive.
Around 75% of every SIG pack is made from forest-based liquid packaging board. Our combibloc ECOPLUS solution increases this to 82% and SIGNATURE 100 is the only aseptic carton in the world that is linked to 100% forest-based materials.1
Our Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) Chain of Custody certification (licence code FSC™ C020428) enables us – and our customers – to trace our raw materials back through the supply chain to sustainably managed forests. FSC™ standards require forest management that supports biodiversity, prevents deforestation and degradation, and respects the rights of workers, local communities and indigenous peoples.
Over the last decade, we have led the industry in driving progress on FSC™ certification. Since 2009, all our liquid packaging board has come from FSC™-certified mills and – as of January 2021 – 100% of it is purchased with FSC™-Mix certification. This means that all our board is made with a mix of fibres sourced from FSC™-certified sustainable forests and other FSC™-controlled sources.
We achieved this milestone by engaging with our board suppliers – large and small – to embrace the wide-reaching benefits of FSC™ certification. And we are extending our forest positive impact even further by calling on our customers to include the FSC™ logo on their packs to raise consumer awareness of responsible sourcing and encourage them to buy more certified products. Over 96% of the packs we sold in 2020 carried the logo.
of our liquid packaging board comes with FSC™-Mix certification (as of January 2021)
of SIG packs sold in 2020 carried the FSC™ label
“SIG has led the market with bold ambitions for FSC™ certification and I’m impressed they have been able to do it on a global scale. The Company is showing the way for others by making a commitment not just to meeting requirements with 100% FSC™-certified board, but to using FSC™ labelling on its packs as a platform for consumer awareness.”
Executive Director, Forest Stewardship Council
Today, our packs offer the lowest-carbon solutions available. Next, we are combining sustainable innovation with our Forest Positive actions to make food packaging like a tree – taking carbon from the atmosphere and making the world a better place.
We have just witnessed the warmest decade on record, with greenhouse gas levels rising to new records in 20192 despite the Paris Agreement to significantly reduce emissions globally. Changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme weather events are already affecting lives and livelihoods around the world.
Urgent action is needed to tackle the climate emergency, and we have joined other leading companies in calling on governments to Recover Better by aligning COVID-19 recovery efforts with the Paris goals.
We have set bold targets, approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, to cut the carbon footprint of our own operations by 60% in line with the latest climate science to keep global warming below 1.5°C and reduce our value chain footprint per litre packed by 25% – both by 2030.
By switching to 100% renewable energy to manufacture our packs, we have achieved carbon neutral production since 2018 – an industry first – and we are continuing to extend our on-site renewable energy generation capacity. We now have 4.8MWp of rooftop solar arrays in operation, with further installations in development to increase this total to around 18MWp.
We are also encouraging suppliers to use renewable energy and take steps to reduce their climate impacts. Suppliers representing over 60% of our global aluminium foil supply are already certified to the ASI standard, which sets strict limits for greenhouse gas emissions from the energy-intensive aluminium production process. This helps to cut our own value chain footprint and has a wider positive impact by decarbonising supply chains in our industry and beyond.
Our low-carbon packaging solutions are helping to reduce the climate impact of the global food supply system. With a resource-efficient design, a high proportion of renewable material and no need for refrigeration, our packs have a life-cycle carbon footprint that is up to 70% lower than alternative types of packaging such as plastic and glass bottles, cans and pouches.
The latest innovations in our SIGNATURE portfolio cut the carbon footprint of our standard packs by a further 27% to 58%. We are also helping customers cut emissions from using our filling machines in their factories. For example, our new upgrade kit can cut energy use by around 85% in standby mode.
renewable energy for production since 2018
Today, all our packs are recyclable, with some made entirely from renewable raw materials. Next we are going to work on making all our packs exclusively from renewable or recycled materials using only renewable energy and on ensuring every carton is recycled – all to make sure we help create more resources for future generations.
The traditional take-make-waste economy is putting too much pressure on the planet’s finite resources and limited capacity to absorb waste. A circular economy – one that designs out waste, regenerates natural systems and keeps products and materials in circulation – can help to relieve this pressure, prevent environmental impacts of packaging waste and halve carbon emissions by 2030 in Europe alone.
Unlike most packaging alternatives, our cartons are made mainly from renewable materials (around 75% on average). This means they are already contributing to the circular economy at the start of their life by using renewable materials that support the regeneration of natural resources.
SIGNATURE 100 is linked to 100% renewable material3, and our paper straw solution offers the first renewable alternative to plastic straws for use with aseptic carton packs.
Some of our raw materials are made from by-products from other industries – such as wood chips, papermaking residues and scrap aluminium. In a groundbreaking partnership with SABIC, we have introduced the world’s first aseptic carton packaging material made from post-consumer recycled material.
All our packs are designed to be fully recyclable, and we are working with others to boost recycling rates and keep high-quality materials in circulation – including renewable fibres for paper and board products, polymers and aluminium (separately and combined as PolyAl for roof tiles and furniture).
Through industry partnerships, such as the Global Recycling Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (GRACE), EXTR:ACT and 4evergreen, we are advocating for enabling regulations and collaborating on specific projects to support the collection and recycling not only of beverage cartons but other types of packaging, too.
We also partner with NGOs, customers and industry on local projects in priority countries – including the innovative so+ma and Cidade+Recicleiros waste collection initiatives in Brazil (which bring both environmental and social benefits), supermarket collection points with Nestlé in Indonesia and a new recycling facility in Germany that will enable the recovery of polymers and aluminium from PolyAl.
“Our ambition is to make 100% of our packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2025. But it is also important that the infrastructure is in place to allow recycling to happen. The Cidade+ Recicleiros partnership between Nestlé and SIG is the basis for the development of a lasting infrastructure that will make a positive impact on the environment, communities and business.”
Environmental Sustainability Manager, Nestlé
Today, our filling technology minimises food loss, and our packs keep food safe for months without the need for refrigeration. Next we are going to continue to innovate and work with partners and communities to deliver safe, affordable nutrition and hydration to ever more people while further reducing food loss.
Nearly 690 million people are hungry and a further two billion do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.4 At the same time, a third of food globally is lost or wasted5 which has knock-on effects for climate and land use. The United Nations has called for a profound change in the global food and agriculture system to feed the world’s growing population.6 And the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how critical a resilient supply chain is to keep food supplies going.
Our aseptic packaging solutions are ideally suited to help customers preserve and deliver nutritious food like milk, fruit juice and soup to consumers.
Take milk, for example. It is full of essential vitamins, calcium and protein. But fresh milk is perishable, only lasting a few days in the refrigerator or less. Our aseptic packaging system preserves the milk – and its nutrients – for six months or more in a cost-effective way. And it can be transported and stored safely without needing to keep it cold, which requires a lot of energy and can be challenging in developing countries.
In 2020, we produced 38 billion packs to help our customers deliver nutrition and hydration to consumers around the world. We maintain robust quality and safety management systems certified to recognised standards at all our plants.
With our highly efficient machines, less than 0.5% of packs – and their food contents – are lost during filling. We are continually looking for ways to reduce this even further as we design new machines and upgrade kits for existing ones. Through our new SIGCUBATOR programme, we are making our highly efficient machines available for start-ups by enabling them to use spare filling capacity to help them deliver nutritious new products.
We are creating innovative models to get food to the people who need it most through the SIG WAY BEYOND GOOD Foundation – and exploring how to scale these models to expand our positive impact.
Cartons for Good, the foundation’s flagship project, is helping to prevent food loss and malnutrition in Bangladesh by using a down-sized filling unit to help communities preserve surplus crops in SIG packs. Every month, it turns up to two tonnes of food loss into 6,000 meals for underprivileged school children. During COVID-19 school closures, we maintained our support with regular aid packages for the children and their families.
The latest campaign of our WAY BEYOND GOOD Champions focused on the role SIG cartons play in delivering nutritious, healthy food. They invited employees from across the business to get involved with interactive quizzes, nutrition webinars and virtual cooking competitions to present their favourite recipe using food from SIG cartons. Teams around the world also donated food to support people in need in their local communities.
industry-leading waste rate for filling machines
Our focus on sustainable innovation is driving progress in all four of our WAY BEYOND GOOD action areas.
Sustainability is one of the core value drivers for all our product development. We are guided by independent ISO-compliant life-cycle assessments to ensure we take into account environmental impacts – from sourcing raw materials to making, filling and distributing our packs through to their disposal by consumers after use.
Our mainly renewable, fully recyclable, low-carbon packaging solutions can support the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy. Over the last decade, we have been innovating to cut their life-cycle impacts even further, raising the bar with a host of industry firsts (see For our planet).
This year, we once again led the industry once again with the launch of SIGNATURE Circular, the first aseptic carton solution made from post-consumer recycled material.7
Uptake of our most sustainable solutions – our SIGNATURE portfolio – continues to grow. We have now sold over one billion packs with combibloc ECOPLUS and over 150 million packs with SIGNATURE 100 or SIGNATURE Full Barrier packaging materials that use polymers linked to 100% renewable material.8
Customers such as Riedel, Hartung Nahrungsmittel Produktions and nutpods have extended SIGNATURE Full Barrier to further products in their portfolios. Finnish start-up Juustoportti chose our new combismile format with our SIGNATURE Full Barrier solution for its new range of oat-based drinks. And Ste Laitière des Volcans d’Auvergne switched to our SIGNATURE 100 packaging material for its Les Fayes organic UHT milk in France.
Several customers are now using our paper straw solutions – the first in the industry – for small format on-the-go packs, including Nestlé in Brazil and Ecuador, Tofusan in Thailand and seven customers in Europe. This will save 10 tonnes of plastic a year for Intermarché alone.
We are also continuing to improve the efficiency of our new filling machines and introducing technical upgrades to help customers reduce resource use from existing machines in their factories. Our latest upgrade cuts water consumption by up to 50% and can be combined in a ‘green bundle’ with a kit that can cut energy use by around 85% during production stoppages.
Our technical service solutions have supported sustainability improvements for 37% of our customers since 2016.
Our commitment to go WAY BEYOND GOOD for people and the planet is underpinned by our responsible culture.
We take a responsible approach across the value chain – sourcing certified materials from responsible suppliers, supporting our own employees and keeping them safe, managing environmental impacts from our operations, engaging communities and acting with integrity in everything we do.
In doing so, we are not only supporting our business and WAY BEYOND GOOD ambitions, we can also have wider positive impacts. For example, when we training employees to adopt safe behaviours at work they also take those safe behaviours home to their families.
Transparency is part of our responsible culture. We have published detailed disclosures on our commitments and approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics, with our last full CR Report for 2018 winning the edie Sustainability Leaders Award for Sustainability Reporting and Communications in recognition of its transparent approach.
We train employees on our Code of Conduct, and all our production sites complete regular SEDEX SMETA audits on ethics, labour rights, safety and environmental criteria. We expect suppliers to meet similar high standards, and those supplying key raw materials are required to meet the requirements of relevant certifications.
We offer the only aseptic cartons with all three key materials from certified sources – FSC™ liquid packaging board, ASI aluminium foil and ISCC PLUS polymers linked to 100% renewable materials9. As of January 2021, 100% of the liquid packaging board used in our packs comes from FSC™-certified forests. We now offer ASI-certified aluminium foil as standard for customers in Europe and North America. And all the forest-based polymers we use are certified to ISCC PLUS or REDcert2.
Keeping our people safe and well is always a priority, and we increased our focus on health and wellbeing to support them through COVID-19. Our lost-time case rate further decreased in 2020, and two plants won our CEO Safety Excellence Award for reaching significant milestones without lost-time cases.
Engagement levels have significantly improved in this year’s employee survey, and outperforming the industry benchmark in every category. We continued to provide extensive training and development opportunities, including more online options for those working remotely during the pandemic, and we established an employee-led focus group to drive our diversity and inclusion strategy.
We also continued to engage with communities, with a particular focus on COVID-19 support. Since 2016, we have increased the cumulative impact of our community engagement programmes nearly tenfold compared with the baseline year.
Our responsible approach is recognised by leading independent raters and rankers, with a Platinum rating from EcoVadis, an AA ranking from MSCI and a low risk score of 18.8 from Sustainalytics. In 2020, we entered into new sustainability-linked loan facilities.
EcoVadis Platinum: top 1% for sustainability
We retained our position among the top 1% of participating businesses with a Platinum rating in the latest assessment on sustainability by EcoVadis. This recognised assessment helps us demonstrate our credentials to customers and drive leading sustainability practices within our business. Our new sustainability-linked loan is also tied to our EcoVadis score. The rating is based on a detailed independent assessment of our policies, processes and performance with regard to environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement criteria.
1 Linked to wood residues from paper making via an independently certified mass balance system.
3 Linked to wood residues from paper making via an independently certified mass balance system.
7/8 Via an independently certified mass balance system.
9 Via an independently certified mass balance system.