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Sustainable innovation

SIG’s packs offer the most sustainable packaging solutions in each relevant market segment and we are innovating to reduce their environmental impact even further.

Independent life-cycle assessment shows that aseptic cartons – made from around 75% renewable liquid packaging board – offer significant reductions in life-cycle environmental impacts compared with other types of packaging, such as glass, plastic bottles or cans. SIG’s most sustainable product innovations – our SIGNATURE portfolio – lower their life-cycle impact even further.

The addition of bag-in-box, spouted pouch and chilled carton solutions to our portfolio through acquisitions this year extends our offering of the most sustainable packaging solutions across more market segments. This enables us to significantly extend our overall net positive impact by helping customers get more food to consumers around the world in more settings – all in a safe, sustainable and affordable way.

Our packs’ strong sustainability credentials are an increasingly important differentiator, helping customers and retailers meet growing regulatory requirements and achieve their own targets on sustainable packaging. We are further enhancing these credentials through sustainable innovation.

Across our portfolio, our product innovation includes a strong focus on optimising material use, replacing virgin fossil-based polymers with renewable or recycled alternatives, and designing packaging solutions to be fully recyclable. By innovating to make our filling machines even more efficient, we can also enable customers to reduce resource consumption, emissions and running costs from packing products in their factories.

Sustainable innovation supports our Way Beyond Good commitments to reduce the carbon footprint of our packs and filling machines (Climate+), regenerate resources and contribute to a circular economy (Resource+), use more materials from sustainably managed forests (Forest+), and support customers with ways to deliver more nutritious food and minimise food loss and waste (Food+).

Our commitment

We are committed to investing in research and development to better meet the needs of customers and consumers, including enhancing the environmental performance of our packaging solutions.

Sustainability criteria are core value drivers in our product development. We consider the environmental impacts of our packaging innovations through robust life-cycle assessments carried out by independent experts using the ISO 14040 and 14044 international standards and critically reviewed by an independent panel.

Our standard procedures mandate that new packaging designs must demonstrate optimised resource use compared with previous models, while continuing to deliver the quality and functionality that customers and consumers demand. The innovative RS structure for SIG carton packs and the exceptionally high product-to-package ratio of bag-in-box and spouted pouches (see Widening our portfolio of sustainable packaging solutions and Demonstrating our packs’ environmental credentials) already optimise material use in our existing solutions.

All our beverage cartons are designed to be fully recyclable and we are introducing tethered closures across our portfolio to help ensure that the caps get recycled together with the carton.

The cardboard box of bag-in-box solutions is fully recyclable in paper recycling streams and the mono-material polymer bags used in bag-in-box solutions for dairy are already recyclable. We are innovating to make more of our newly acquired bag-in-box solutions fully recyclable via mainstream recycling channels through the development of mono-material polymer structures. The closures for bag-in-box solutions are tethered by design and several of our spouted pouches also include tethered closures, including the LinkCap for retail applications.

A priority for our sustainable innovation is to find ways to introduce renewable or recycled alternatives to virgin fossil-based polymers. We have already launched the world’s first packaging materials for aseptic cartons that are linked to up to 100% renewable materials1SIGNATURE 100 and SIGNATURE FULL BARRIER. We also offer the world’s first packaging materials linked to post-consumer recycled content2 for both aseptic cartons and the bags of bag-in-box solutions, which will support customers in meeting forthcoming EU regulations that are expected to increase focus on recycled plastic.

We link the polymers in these solutions to renewable or recycled materials via an innovative mass balance approach, independently verified through ISCC PLUS or Redcert2 certification, that ensures the same amount of renewable or recycled raw materials that we use to make the relevant packs is physically mixed in with conventional fossil-based feedstock to produce polymers to the required grade, and recorded separately to ensure full traceability through the supply chain. The mass balance system supports a transition away from virgin fossil-based materials within the conventional and highly efficient polymer industry. It is endorsed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a valid way to support the circular economy.3

We have led the industry with the first solutions for aseptic cartons with no aluminium layer. combibloc ECOPLUS and SIGNATURE 100 are for use with oxygen-insensitive products, such as white UHT milk. With our latest innovation, SIGNATURE EVO, we have launched the world’s first aluminium-free4 packaging material for aseptic cartons that maintains the full barrier properties required to preserve oxygen-sensitive products, such as juices, without the need for an aluminium foil barrier layer. We are now working to achieve cost parity of aluminium-free4 cartons with standard SIG carton packs to support increased uptake. Where we still use aluminium foil in our cartons, we source aluminium that is certified to the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) standards – an industry first – and we offer customers the opportunity to include the ASI label on their packs to demonstrate the aluminium has been responsibly sourced. As of January 2023, we procure 100% of our aluminium foil for our aseptic carton packs with ASI certification (see Responsible culture: our supply chain).

Our highly efficient filling machines for aseptic cartons already offer the lowest waste rate in the beverage carton industry, and we aim to improve efficiency with each new generation by reducing the amount of resources needed to run the machines at our customers’ factories. This includes energy for heating and sealing the packs, and compressed air, hydrogen peroxide and water used in cleaning, sterilisation and packaging processes.

We provide technical service upgrades together with support to help customers optimise the operational and resource efficiency of existing machines – which often remain in use for decades at their factories – and minimise downtime for repairs. Through our Fill Beyond Good programme, we help customers improve the sustainability of their factories, for example by reducing energy and water use.

We also offer highly efficient filling machines and sealing equipment for bag-in-box solutions and spouted pouches that require minimal inputs of energy, compressed air and hydrogen peroxide.

Our strong focus on sustainable innovation has already enabled us to deliver significant enhancements in the environmental credentials of our packaging solutions, including a host of industry firsts (see graphic). Through our marketing and sales, we aim to increase customer uptake of our most sustainable solutions to help amplify our net positive impact across our Way Beyond Good action areas.

SIG NEO, our next-generation filling machine (photo)
SIG NEO, our next-generation filling machine, is designed to reduce overall use of utilities (hydrogen peroxide, compressed air and water) by 30%, plus a carbon footprint reduction of up to 25% for filling and packaging per pack compared with our third-generation filling machines.

Our sustainable innovation journey so far

Our starting point

Standard SIG aseptic carton and third-generation filling machine

  • Packs made of, on average, 75% FSCTM-certified renewable paperboard, 21% polymers and an ultra-thin layer of aluminium foil
  • 28–70% lower carbon footprint than alternative packaging, such as plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans7
  • Industry-leading waste rate (<0.5%) through highly efficient filling process


combibloc ECOPLUS

  • World’s first aluminium-free1 packaging material for aseptic cartons
  • 82% renewable liquid packaging board
  • Up to 27% less carbon than standard SIG packaging material for aseptic cartons3
  • For use with dairy products
Combibloc ECOPLUS package (graphic)


Combidome package (graphic)


  • Looks and pours like a bottle
  • Environmental benefits of a carton


RS structure

  • Optimises use of materials while improving the robustness of our aseptic cartons during processing and distribution
  • Over 40,000 tonnes of polymer avoided since launch



  • World’s first aseptic carton linked to 100% renewable material2
  • Aluminium-free1, for use with dairy products
  • Up to 58% less carbon than standard SIG packaging material for aseptic cartons3
SIGNATURE 100 package (graphic)



  • Polymers linked to 100% renewable material2
  • Ultra-thin aluminium foil layer to protect oxygen-sensitive products, such as orange juice
  • Up to 45% less carbon than standard SIG packaging material for aseptic cartons3



  • World’s first aseptic carton that can be heated in the microwave
  • Enhanced barrier film and pigmented laminated layer replace aluminium foil


Paper straw solution

  • World’s first paper straw for use with aseptic carton packs
  • Straight, U-shaped and telescopic options
  • FSCTM-certified paper


ASI-labelled packs

  • The world’s first aseptic carton packaging materials with ASI-certified aluminium foil
  • The only cartons that can carry the ASI label
ASI-labelled packs (graphic)




  • First aseptic carton solution offered with post-consumer recycled content
  • Polymers linked to 100% recycled plastics4



  • Next-generation filling machine for family-size carton packs
  • 25% less carbon for the filling and packaging per pack5
  • 30% less consumables (hydrogen peroxide, compressed air and water)5



  • World’s first full barrier aluminium-free1 solution for aseptic cartons
  • For use with both liquid dairy and oxygen-sensitive products, such as fruit juices, nectars, flavoured milk or plant-based beverages


Bag-in-box and spouted pouch solutions join our portfolio

  • High product-to-packaging ratio
  • Less carbon than alternatives, such as plastic and glass bottles, tubs and jars
  • Recycle-ready mono-material spouted pouch
  • First APR6-recognised recyclable bag-in-box
  • World’s first bag-in-box linked to recycled content4

1 With no aluminium layer.

2 Linked to wood residues from paper making via an independently certified mass balance system.

3 Results based on ISO-compliant life-cycle assessment CB-100732c for Europe.

4 Via an independently certified mass balance system.

5 Anticipated savings compared with our third-generation filling machines, to be confirmed through field testing.

6 Association of Plastic Recyclers.

7 Based on life-cycle assessments for UHT milk, non-carbonated soft drinks and long-life food.

Our targets

2025 target


Progress tracker

Launch a full barrier carton linked to 100% renewable materials (also a target for Resource+ action area)


Further reduce the amount of non-fibre materials in our carton packs to increase the share of renewable materials and enable SIG cartons to go into paper recycling streams where relevant by 2030 (also a target for Resource+ action area)


Reduce energy use by 20%, hydrogen peroxide use by 35% and water use by 25% per hour of runtime in our next-generation filling machine for mid-size format packs (by 2022)1


Reduce use of consumables by 25% for the next-generation filling machine for small format packs



Target date extended to 2024 due to further delays in field testing that is required to confirm whether the target has been met.

Our progress

In 2022, we launched our award-winning SIGNATURE EVO solution, the world’s first full barrier packaging material for aseptic carton packs with no aluminium layer, which extends our aluminium-free5 solutions for use with oxygen-sensitive products, such as juices, as well as dairy. Uptake of existing solutions in our SIGNATURE portfolio has continued to increase and we have expanded our range of tethered caps to more of our pack formats. The addition of bag-in-box, spouted pouches and chilled cartons to our portfolio through acquisitions this year extends our offering to include the most sustainable packaging solutions across more segments, and innovation is under way to further enhance their sustainability credentials.

Kris Huygh – CEO, Olympia Dairy, Belgium (portrait)
Kris Huygh
CEO, Olympia Dairy, Belgium

“Following our installation of SIG’s fast and flexible CFA 812 filling machine last year – the first in Belgium – we were able to open up a new retail distribution channel for our liquid dairy products. Now we are playing another pioneering role in the European dairy market by being the first in Belgium to choose SIG’s SIGNATURE 100 packaging material with no aluminium layer. This sets a new benchmark in offering the most sustainable dairy products, which meet the needs of both retailers and our environmentally conscious consumers.”

Expanding our range of tethered cap solutions for SIG packs

First launched in 2021 for combidome, tethered cap solutions are now available for a wide range of SIG carton formats – including combiblocSlimline and combiblocPremium, and our next-generation family-size combivita packaging – with more in the pipeline.

Tethered caps for SIG packs are designed to be compatible with our existing filling lines and closure applicators, and market research shows consumer acceptance is strong with no compromise in convenience. The pack can be opened and closed easily as needed until it’s empty, with an easy-to-use ‘parking mode’ that keeps the cap out of the way for pouring, then the cap and the pack can be recycled together.

Our initial focus is on supporting customers in Europe to meet the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive requirement that all single-use beverage containers must come with attached caps by July 2024. Three of the tethered cap solutions we have already launched – tethered domeTwist for combidome, and tethered combiMaxx and combiSwift options for our core family-size carton portfolio – together account for around 90% of SIG’s European closures by volume.

In 2022, FrieslandCampina became the first customer to put our combiSwift tethered cap on retail shelves, launching the solution in Germany for its Landliebe (“Love for the countryside”) UHT milk in combiblocSlimline carton packs.

“Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy as well as of Landliebe’s brand values. Optimising the design of our packaging for recycling is a top priority for us, that’s why we didn’t want to wait until 2024 to introduce tethered caps. Being the first to market globally with SIG’s combiSwift closure with tethered cap means we are already now providing our consumers with a convenient drinking and pouring solution, which they can then dispose of and recycle with the carton pack. We have dedicated one side of the carton pack to easily explain the usage and environmental benefits of the new tethered cap.”
Carola Knorr
Marketing Director, DACH, FrieslandCampina

Packages with tethered cap solution (photo)

Performance in 2022

Driving sustainable innovation in our carton packs

  • Environmental considerations informed all our product development and were the main value driver for 62% of pre-development innovation projects for our aseptic carton business in 2022. This year, we introduced new guidance on sustainable product design for our research and development teams. The SIG Innovation Board continued to review our innovation pipeline regularly in light of evolving sustainability considerations, such as forthcoming regulations and customers’ sustainability ambitions.
  • We launched SIGNATURE EVO, the world’s first full barrier solution for aseptic carton packs with no aluminium layer. By providing comparable barrier properties to our standard aseptic carton solutions that include a layer of aluminium foil, SIGNATURE EVO extends our range of lower carbon aluminium-free6 packaging materials, already available for plain white milk, for use with oxygen-sensitive products, such as juices, as well as liquid dairy. SIGNATURE EVO was launched in early 2022 in our combiblocMini portion-size format and will be extended to other formats. We also plan to offer a SIGNATURE EVO 100 version of this aluminium-free6 full barrier carton in future, which will be linked to 100% renewable materials.7
  • We extended our aluminium-free6 combibloc ECOPLUS solution to our 500 ml aseptic carton pack. This format is also available as SIGNATURE 100 linked to 100% renewable materials.7
  • We developed and launched tethered cap solutions for more of our aseptic carton pack formats to ensure the cap is kept together with the carton for recycling (see case study above). We will introduce tethered cap solutions for all other pack formats sold in the EU ahead of EU regulatory requirements that are due to come into force in 2024.
  • Our focus on sustainable innovation garnered more awards this year. SIGNATURE EVO was named Best Sustainable Product at the prestigious Gulf Sustainability Awards in 2022. Our next-generation family-size packaging combivita with truTwist tethered closure – for use with our next-generation filling machines – won the coveted German Packaging Award for Functionality and Convenience, with judges particularly impressed by the tethered closure.
  • In addition to continuing our focus on increasing collection and recycling capacity for used beverage cartons (see Resource+), we have set a new target to further reduce the amount of non-fibre materials in our carton packs to increase the share of renewable materials and to enable our cartons to go into paper recycling streams where relevant by 2030 so they can also be widely recycled in regions where only paper recycling streams are available.

Growing uptake of our most sustainable innovations for aseptic cartons

  • Sales of our SIGNATURE portfolio packaging materials for aseptic cartons increased by 13% this year, with further expansion in Europe and North America, as well as market debuts in Australia and the cream product category. We have now sold enough packs with these solutions to fill 2.7 billion litres of food. In 2022 alone, 611.6 million litres of food were packed in SIG packs with SIGNATURE portfolio packaging materials. This accounted for 3.4% of the food packed in SIG packs worldwide – and 8.2% in Europe.
  • Olympia Dairy became the first company in Belgium to launch SIGNATURE 100 for its liquid dairy products. OSM Łowicz in Poland is the first customer globally to use combibloc ECOPLUS in the cream category and in our small 500 ml size.
  • New product launches with SIGNATURE FULL BARRIER this year included: Massel’s liquid plant-based range and First Press’s almond and oat milk iced coffees in Australia; Unilever’s Lipton Ice Tea and Riedel’s Appelsientje, CoolBest and DubbelDrank juice brands in the Netherlands; Intermarché’s Regain Bio plant-based drinks in France; and All Friends’ fruit infusions in the USA.
  • We are promoting our new SIGNATURE EVO solution with customers around the world, and several have already begun testing packs with SIGNATURE EVO.
  • We remain the only carton producer to offer packs with ASI-certified aluminium and, from January 2023, we are sourcing 100% ASI-certified aluminium foil. We sold over 8.6 billion SIG packs in 2022 with the ASI code, showing that ASI-certified aluminium foil was sourced for their production. Of these, nearly 1.4 billion feature the ASI label – almost three times the number in 2021 as more customers opt to include the ASI label on their packs to demonstrate and raise awareness of responsible aluminium sourcing.
  • We have now sold over 1 billion small-format on-the-go packs with our paper straw solutions. We expanded uptake with customers in Costa Rica, Egypt, India and Taiwan this year. We also launched a paper blister for the straw for the first time on the market with our customer Beyti in Egypt.
  • We continued to train sales and marketing teams on our SIGNATURE portfolio to help them engage with customers to further increase uptake. This year, teams in our Asia Pacific South and Middle East and Africa regions completed the training.
  • Our RS structure reduced the amount of polymers used in SIG carton packs by 10,981 tonnes in 2022.

Uptake of SIGNATURE portfolio packaging materials for SIG aseptic beverage cartons (million litres)









Total since launch

combibloc ECOPLUS (launched 2010)









SIGNATURE 100 (launched 2017)


















All SIGNATURE portfolio










Previously published data restated in line with restatement policy.

Making our filling machines more efficient

  • Our SIG NEO next-generation filling machine for family-size carton packs, launched in late 2021, offers significant improvements in efficiency and sustainability. SIG NEO reduces our industry-leading waste rates even further, with almost no waste during production, and is designed to reduce overall use of utilities (hydrogen peroxide, compressed air and water) by 30%. By reducing energy use, it is designed to offer a 25% lower carbon footprint for the filling and packaging process per pack compared with our third-generation filling machines. Field tests planned for 2022 have been delayed and we now expect to be able to confirm whether we have met our reduction targets for energy, hydrogen peroxide and water use in 2024.
  • Development of our next-generation filling machine for small-format packs has been delayed. We plan to conduct a study on market requirements in 2023, building on field tests of our mid-size SIG NEO filling machine.
  • We continued to offer and roll out technical service upgrade kits that offer sustainability improvements for our third-generation filling machines. These include our water reduction upgrade kit, designed to cut water consumption during production by up to 50%, and our SureBrite semi-automated cleaning machine that can cut water use by 54% and energy use by up to 82% compared with manual cleaning. This year, we extended our water reduction kit to another SIG filling machine format and launched new upgrade kits to reduce use of energy and compressed air.
  • We continued to support customers in identifying ways to improve the sustainability of their filling machines and factories as part of our Fill Beyond Good initiative. For example, we helped a major dairy group in Germany save 15 million litres of water and avoid 14 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year through a programme that included installing our water reduction kit on all its SIG filling machines. Other Fill Beyond Good sustainability optimisation initiatives for 20 customers this year collectively contributed to annual reductions of 7.5 million litres of water, 111.4 MWh of energy, 230,000 m3 of compressed air and 33 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Innovating in spouted pouch and bag-in-box

  • The addition of bag-in-box and spouted pouches to our portfolio through the acquisition of Scholle IPN this year extends our offering to include the most sustainable packaging solutions across more segments (see A broader universe 
    of opportunity and Bag-in-box and spouted pouch). We have begun integrating these into our sustainability marketing strategies to extend the range of solutions we offer customers.
  • We launched our first recycle-ready mono-material spouted pouch solution with our largest pouch customer this year. In 2022, the customer, one of the world’s largest fruit puree brands, used 182,000 m2 of our mono-material RecShield® polymer film, enough to make over 8 million pouches and fill more than 680,000 litres of food. We aim to roll out this innovation to more customers in 2023.
  • Our bag-in-box for water is the first bag-in-box to be recognised as 100% recyclable by the US Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), based on a third-party verification process. APR issued a letter in 2021 to confirm that the polyethylene-based film bag (made up of a RecShield® outer layer and a 2Pure™ inner layer) and the polyethylene closure meet or exceed the most strict APR Polyethylene (PE) Film and Flexible Packaging Critical Guidance protocol, FPE-CG-01. As the cardboard box part of the solution is already 100% recyclable in the paper recycling stream, this means that consumers simply need to take the bag out of the box and put each element in the appropriate recycling stream.
  • The Coca-Cola Company rolled out our 250 litre nylon-free recycle-ready bag-in-box for its beverage concentrate in 12 markets in Europe in 2022.
  • We worked with supplier Sabic on a bag-in-box solution made with polymers linked to post-consumer recycled content this year.8 Following trials in 2021, customers began using the solution for a 20 litre bag-in-box in 2022. The polymers are linked to post-consumer recycled plastics via the same independently certified mass balance system that we use for our SIGNATURE Circular solution for aseptic carton packs, which was also developed with Sabic. Like SIGNATURE Circular, chemical recycling is used to process post-consumer recycled plastics into food-grade polymers that offer the same properties as polymers made with virgin fossil feedstock.

1 Linked to wood residues from paper making via an independently certified mass balance system.

2 Via an independently certified mass balance system.

3 The Ellen MacArthur Foundation Mass Balance White Paper.

4 With no aluminium layer.

5 With no aluminium layer.

6 With no aluminium layer.

7 Linked to wood residues from paper making via an independently certified mass balance system.

8 Via an independently certified mass balance system.

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