Smurfit Kappa celebrates 10 years of sustainability excellence

Paper-based packaging company Smurfit Kappa has celebrated a "decade of excellence" in sustainability achievements, which have placed the firm well on-track to supersede its 2020 target to slash emissions by a quarter.

Smurfit Kappa has achieved a 22.9% reduction in its specific paper production fossil CO2 emissions from a 2005 baseline, according to the FTSE 100 firm’s tenth corporate social responsibility report. The progress has been underpinned by an investment in energy efficiency measures, combined heat and power (CHP) plants and a shift to renewable energy sources, namely biomass.

Smurfit Kappa chief executive Tony Smurfit said: “As Smurfit Kappa’s CEO, I am determined that our company will play its part in creating a sustainable future by building a profitable business based on sustainable principles. Profitability is the engine that propels a company forward, and it is clearly linked to the prosperity of customers, employees and communities around the world.

“The profitable companies of the future will be the ones that align business goals with the needs of the world around them.”

Sustainability in every fibre

Smurfit Kappa recently reached 90% certification for sold packaging. Third party certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and a comprehensive Chain of Custody compliance have all been met across the firm’s 370 production sites.

The firm produces paper and packaging from a mixture of virgin, and predominantly recycled, fibres. As of 2014, 100% of purchases fibres have been brought through FSC, PEFC or SFI certified systems and the latest achievement enhances the end-to-end supply transparency across the firms supply chain.

“Compared to other packaging materials, paper is the most sustainable, therefore sustainability is within the very DNA of our company,” Group vce president of development Steven Stoffer said. “These latest results are a testament to the contribution everyone at Smurfit Kappa makes to reach our ambitious goals.”

Circular dreams

As part of its commitment to understand the risks related to water, 11 of Smurfit Kappa’s 36 paper mills have been audited to prove a ‘well managed risk’ outcome. The packaging giant also achieved a 31.9% reduction in relative amounts of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) in discharge water compared to 2005, and invested £50m in water treatment plants. 

The Dublin-headquarted firm aims to remove all avoidable production waste by closing loops at an individual mill level. A new target was set in 2015 to reduce waste sent to landfill by 30% per tonne of paper compared with a 2013 baseline. The company’s latest report confirmed that a reduction of 13.3% had been achieved in 2016, with five paper mills sending no waste to landfill.

Smurfit Kappa recently invited edie on a behind-the-scenes tour of its pioneering zero-waste paper mill in the Netherlands. The mill produces 600,000 tonnes of brown paper packaging each year, but sends absolutely no waste to landfill. A resourceful packaging process helps to produce less than a kilogram of solid waste for every metric tonne of paper that the mill makes, and that small amount of solid waste is then recycled to make new materials.

George Ogleby

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