SIG and Amcor unite in commitment to responsibly sourced aluminum

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13 Mar 2018 --- SIG and Amcor – two of the world’s largest packaging companies – have formed a value chain partnership which commits to using 100 percent certified sourcing of aluminum. The pledge aims to meet the performance standards as recommended by the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI). Amcor is one of SIG’s main suppliers of aluminum in Europe.

SIG is one of the world's leading solution providers for the food and beverage industry within the field of carton packs and filling technology, with more than 5,000 employees worldwide and a 2017 turnover of €1.66 billion. SIG uses a razor-thin aluminum layer in most of its carton packs to protect the food from light, oxygen and external odours. SIG’s commitment to 100 percent certified sourcing of aluminum is part of the supplier’s WAY BEYOND GOOD initiative, which commits to using only responsibly sourced direct materials.

Amcor – who supply aluminum to SIG in Europe – is a global leader in responsible packaging, developing innovative flexible and rigid packaging that has a focus on environmental sustainability. The company employs more than 35,000 people worldwide, operating in 40-plus countries across 200 sites, with 95 percent of its sales coming across the food and beverage, healthcare, and tobacco industries.

The new ASI performance standard reveals principles that must be met along the supply chain of aluminum and covers the main sustainability risks and potential impacts on the environment.  ASI has recently launched a new Certification programme for the aluminum value chain, which focuses on responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of this popular industrial metal. The new program aims at addressing and reducing the impacts of aluminum production: from mines, smelters and casting to semi-fabrication and manufacture of products containing aluminum.

SIG and Amcor are early supporters of the initiative, welcoming the third party verification body, DNV GL, to conduct pilot assessments of their manufacturing processes.

A representative of Amcor spoke to WorldPackagingOnline about the trials and tribulations of creating sustainable aluminum value chains: "Responsible sourcing of aluminum is a priority for Amcor and our sustainability experts have been involved with the development of the responsible aluminum standard from the beginning, before 2010.”

"Aluminum is a functional and valuable packaging material that provides an absolute barrier at high efficiency, and we’re committed to using these benefits at the lowest environmental impact and best social outcome. The practice of producing aluminum, from bauxite mine to smelter, can vary – and we are working to make sure we have a reliable supply of low-carbon and socially-responsible aluminum.”

"As an aluminum converter, the main obstacle is often availability of source-certified material – because the standard is very new. This is why we were proactive in already assessing the social and environmental performance of our supply chain, and selecting suppliers accordingly.”

Dr Christian Bauer, SIG Manager Environmental Affairs and Product related Sustainability stated: “Our aim is clear. This is not a pass/fail exercise, but a collaborative approach to share industry best practices and ensure we are at the forefront of sourcing aluminum foil that will meet or surpass the ASI performance standards, ensuring continuous environmental improvement as well as best in class ethical practices.”

The DNV GL pilot looks at the value chain of aluminum foil all the way to the bauxite mines and is intended to provide a snapshot of performance against the ASI Performance Standard. Dr Colin Morgan, Principal Consultant at DNV GL, said: “Engaging suppliers on improving sustainability performance from mine to manufacturing is a challenging task. We are proud to work together with SIG and Amcor to bring visibility to their supply chains, build capacity and help all stakeholders to get ready for ASI through our pilot audits. This is a pioneering approach to multi-tier engagement that delivers value and benefits for all involved.”

In 2017, collaborative assessments with value chain partners were completed in Europe and Asia for the manufacturing of aluminum foil and foil stock. The pilots provided a readiness check to close gaps against ASI standard requirements, and acknowledged any existing certifications the sites already have – ensuring a streamlined approach and value creation for all stakeholders.

Dr Gerald Rebitzer, Sustainability Director at Amcor said: “What we found was that the performance of the assessed sites generally aligns very well with the requirements of the ASI performance standard, and we are already working with the suppliers to close any gaps. The results are very encouraging.”

In 2018, SIG and Amcor will go further down the value chain. With this ongoing program and the subsequent planned ASI certification, both SIG and Amcor are confident that they will be well prepared to be at the forefront of offering packaging with responsibly sourced aluminum foil. SIG has been at the forefront of sourcing from responsibly managed forests with 100 percent of its liquid packaging board from paper mills with the FSCT Chain of Custody certification and 89 percent made with wood from FSC certified forests. Since 2017, SIG is also certified according to ISCC PLUS in view of sourcing of renewable feedstock for polymers.

By Joshua Poole

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