Smurfit Kappa sets sights on net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
10 Nov 2020 --- Corrugated packaging giant Smurfit Kappa is ramping up its CO2 reduction targets significantly, aiming for a 55 percent drop in carbon emissions by 2030 and at least net-zero emissions by 2050. The Science Based Target (SBT) initiative is currently validating the company’s targets in line with the UN Paris Agreement.
“We offer our customers optimized packaging solutions that help them to reduce CO2 emissions in their value chain. Our suite of tools, including the SupplySmart Service, help us determine the carbon footprint of our customers’ packaging, and are on average, utilized 11,000 times a day,” Steven Stoffer, group VP of development and sustainability at Smurfit, tells PackagingInsights.
“We are proud to support the EU Green Deal objectives to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. We have made good progress on our existing targets, and these new targets underline the organization’s continued commitment to sustainability,” says Tony Smurfit, CEO of Smurfit Kappa.
“Sustainability has been at the core of our business for decades. We want to lead from the front and raise the bar for the paper and packaging industry by setting ambitious targets.”
Smurfit Kappa has already achieved a 32.9 percent reduction in carbon emission intensity en route to its 40 percent reduction by 2030 target. Based on this success, the company has increased its carbon reduction goal by 15 percent.
“More than 92 percent of our packaging is Chain of Custody certified, meaning that our stakeholders can rely on our commitment to ensure the sustainable origins of our raw materials,” continues Stoffer.
“We have also achieved a 35 percent reduction in Chemical Oxygen Demand intensity since 2005, and 7.1 percent less waste to landfill since 2013.”
In 2005, Smurfit Kappa began committing to sustainability innovations, including carbon reduction strategies, and has since worked against the 2005 baseline.
The corrugated packaging supplier’s new targets will be validated by the SBT initiative, a partnership of organizations helping companies set and keep environmental sustainability goals. The validation, which Smurfit Kappa is expecting soon, will help ensure the company achieves the targets set out in the global Paris Agreement.
Smurfit Kappa is also building on more than a decade of providing full CO2 disclosures by supporting the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This global body develops climate-related financial risk disclosures, providing information for investors, lenders and insurers.
The improved carbon reduction targets are encouraged by the successful implementation of critical projects forming part of Smurfit Kappa’s medium-term strategic plan.
One such project was installing a recovery boiler at the company’s Nettingsdorf Paper Mill in Austria, which began operating in June of this year.
The new boiler is set to cut carbon emissions by 40,000 tons, translating into an additional 1.5 percent reduction in carbon emissions throughout the company.
The sustainability argument
This year, Smurfit Kappa conducted a survey on environmental sustainability in the packaging industry, highlighting that most packaging businesses (83%) see it as an opportunity.
The 18-page Sustainability and Profitability Survey also found a third of packaging companies state that sustainability is the key driver for R&D and NPD, and 72 percent view sustainability as a “lasting trend.”
Collaborations and innovations
In 2018, Smurfit Kappa joined Two Sides, a global organization that promotes paper's attractiveness and sustainability.
A nationally representative survey of UK adults conducted by Two Sides found paper and cardboard are the most preferred packaging material for environmental friendliness, recyclability and practicality.
However, this research also showed that consumers perceive paper and cardboard as causes of forest loss while failing to appreciate the industry’s high recycling rates. Smurfit Kappa has since increased the transparency of its paper sourcing.
In a recent eco-friendly innovation, Smurfit Kappa unveiled the Banabag. This plastic-replacement paper-based wrapping covers the fruit to protect against insects and diseases while acting as an insulator against overheating.
By Louis Gore-Langton
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