Circular economy provides 'competitive advantage' for packaging firm

"Sustainability drives our competitive advantage", proclaimed international paper packaging company Smurfit Kappa in its 2014 sustainability report, released this week.

Last year recycled raw materials made up 74% of Smurfit Kappa's paper

Last year recycled raw materials made up 74% of Smurfit Kappa's paper

The report expresses a company-wide commitment to ‘closing the loop’ on paper products, which can only be recycled eight to 10 times before they starts disintegrating.

Making sure that paper is recycled to its limit and then then utilising that pulp in innovative ways has set Smurfit Kappa apart, the report claims.

“Being a sustainability leader within our industry creates business value,” the company said.

“By reducing our impact on the environment, the raw materials that we use and by optimising design, resulting in more sustainable packaging, our customers are able to make a positive business choice when choosing Smurfit Kappa as their partner. Sustainability drives our competitive advantage.”

Resource efficiency

Smurfit Kappa claims to have re-engineered the business around a circular economy model, in order to reduce material costs, increase resource resiliency and cut CO2 emissions.

Last year, recycled raw materials made up 74% of the company’s paper. When the paper material is no longer recyclable is can be incinerated to generate energy or used in agriculture.

Nearly a third of the company’s paper mills sent no waste to landfill in 2014, while the Roermond paper mill in the Netherlands has identified uses for 99.5% of its waste. Company-wide waste-to-landfill rates were 53%, but the company says individual assessments have been launched at its paper mills to create specific waste reduction plans.

The company has also embraced the concept of reverse logistics, running a simple scheme with an ice cream manufacturer in France, where old cartons are collected when new deliveries are dropped off. This paper and cardboard is then returned to Smurfit Kappa for recycling and re-use.

The company is also now 98% of the way to a commitment to source 100% of its fibre from sustainably managed forests.

Emissions per tonne of paper produced have fallen by 21% since 2005, while total water intake decreased by 3% between 203 and 2014.

Group chief executive Gary McCann said: “We are proud to say that our people and products have sustainability in every fibre. We use it as a lens through which to focus our innovation our strategy and our process."

Paper, planet, profit

Some of the world’s largest paper producers have pledged to reduce their impact on the planet in recent months.

Indonesia's second largest pulp and paper producer, APRIL, announced earlier in June that it has eliminated deforestation in its supply chain, four years earlier than planned.

Rival firm Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is also making consistent progress towards a deforestation pledge, according to independent analysis from the Rainforest Alliance.

And in related news, the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) was launched earlier this week, with a stated goal of addressing the ethical, social and environmental risks in the timber supply chain.

Brad Allen


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