The importance of sustainable business has never been felt more.

2015 was a significant year for our planet, with the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the COP21 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN. Moreover, the need for global companies to close the loop on supply chain models and embrace corporate social responsibility are quickly becoming vital to their corporate reputation.

Change has been seen on a regional level, too. There has been a significant shift in the commitment by the Obama administration to deliver a clean energy economy, as well as the ambitious Circular Economy Package and the reforms to the Emission Trading System from the EU.

Against this backdrop, Smurfit Kappa, one of the world’s leading providers of paper-based packaging solutions, reports its progress this month in delivering business value through sustainability with the publication of its 9th annual Sustainable Development Report.

The report, “Sustainability in Every Fibre,” highlights Smurfit Kappa’s focus on designing and enabling environmental responsibility, circular business models and social responsibility, with a unique commitment to using only 100% sustainably sourced fibres in its products and processes. Having been recognised by the FTSE4Good index and the Euronext Vigeo Europe 120, Smurfit Kappa understands its importance as a global corporate citizen to lead by example across all areas of sustainable development.

With 370 production sites across 34 countries, Smurfit Kappa continually aims to serve the sustainability objectives of its customers by working in close partnership in every market, in addition to being valued by consumers for ambitious sustainability targets, and an attractive investment for investors. This is particularly prominent this year as they move their primary listing to the London Stock Exchange.

Innovation focuses on sustainability

Sustainability truly sits at the heart of its business, used as a lens through which to focus innovation, strategy and processes. Each of the key areas for development ladder up to overall targets set for 2020, with considerable progress made in 2015, as outlined in this year’s report.

As any global corporate will understand, the need for a clear and consistent segmentation to business objectives is key. Smurfit Kappa is doing this in three ways: making processes more sustainable through the power of innovation; delivering products and services which increase the efficiency of its customers’ value chains; and investing in the development of the employees and communities in which it operates.

By the end of 2015, the business achieved a reduction of 22.6% in relative CO2 emissions compared to 2005, on its way to an overall reduction target of 25% by 2020. It also improved the energy usage per tonne of paper produced at its paper and board mills by 10% between 2005 and 2015.

With the certification of remaining production sites, Smurfit Kapa has achieved its target to Chain of Custody certify the entire global production system. This makes the business the first paper-based packaging company with a global capacity to provide customers with full transparency and a unique guarantee that the fibre used for their packaging has a sustainable origin.

With regard to water usage, a direct investment in the standard of water treatment plants around the globe resulted in a completely new facility commissioned in Forney (USA) and significant improvements in Pitea (Sweden) and Saillat (France). In line with a distinct commitment to its paper and board mills, there were also comprehensive water impact assessments at sites to ensure sufficient water availability for surrounding areas. It also has a commitment to reducing the organic content of water (COD) returned to the environment from its mills by one third by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, and has now achieved a 29% reduction against that benchmark.

Furthermore, globally it introduced a target to reduce waste sent to landfill from its paper and board mills by 30% by 2020, with a 13.8% reduction since 2013. This was bolstered by a company-wide waste to landfill assessment during 2015, a first of its kind and a clear step in achieving its objectives in the next four years.

Communication, recognition and career opportunities are key in employee relations

In the corporate social responsibility space, Smurfit Kappa have made over €4 million euro of social investments to local community projects in the regions they operate. Further to the global employee survey ‘My Voice’ conducted in October 2014, more than 1,000 local actions are being implemented. In addition, there will be Company-wide actions with a focus on communication, recognition and career opportunities.

It is this distinctive mix of focussing on key sustainability issues, as well as business and community objectives that has led to Smurfit Kappa trailblazing its way amongst competitors and in the eyes of investors.

In 2015, the world set the strategy to tackle the environmental and social challenges we face. In 2016, the business community has the opportunity to show leadership in taking on those challenges. Smurfit Kappa successfully introduced five strategic priorities in order to measure change and improvements to the way they do business sustainably. Nine years on from the beginning of the Sustainable Development Report, it is now possible to directly track progress against these priorities, leading the industry towards a brighter future.

With significant positive improvements in the commitments made by governments and industry bodies across the globe, there is more hope than ever before on the ability to meet the required investments and objectives and continue on the sustainability journey, one step at a time.

This article is a sponsored feature on Smurfit Kappa

sustainability  COP21  CSR  circular economy  Environment  London Stock Exchange  sustainable development 

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