February 13, 2024
Across all industries, sustainability issues have never been higher on the agenda, and SWM International’s customers are no exception. This means that many of them are looking to us to help them reduce their environmental impact and prioritize responsible sourcing – which is why the role of the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Team is so important.
The team currently consists of myself, Christophe Rigoulay (Life Cycle Assessment Engineer), and Sophie Hervé-Dupenher (Project Manager). Together, we’re working hard to integrate ESG principles into all areas of SWM’s activities, from product design to manufacturing and logistics.
Making a Thinpact
We have several areas of focus, which we group under four key pillars: climate change mitigation, natural resource preservation, eco-design, and social responsibility. These all come under the umbrella of our Thinpact strategy – that’s our commitment to reducing our environmental impact while delivering more value to our customers and wider society.
This year, we’re taking our Thinpact activities to the next level. As an independent, privately owned company, we’re now in a better position than ever to drive change on these important issues – starting with climate change. To reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by our operations, we’ve already implemented a plan to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These are the emissions that we cause directly, mainly through the generation of the electricity and steam that we purchase.
However, we’re not stopping there! Our next priority is to set a concrete target for our Scope 3 emissions. This refers to all the GHGs emitted as a result of our wider value-chain impacts. This includes areas such as raw material sourcing, transportation, and the end-of-life treatment of our products. Once we’ve established a clear and achievable pathway to reduce these emissions, we’ll submit this plan for validation by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This will verify that the targets we’ve set align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Preserving natural resources
But emissions are only one part of the story – we also need to focus on how we use natural resources. Everything we do at SWM depends on natural resources, such as the forests where our wood pulp comes from and the water that we use in our papermaking process. And we must play our part in preserving these resources for future generations. That’s where our global waste plan comes in. By reducing the amount of material wasted in the production process, we can ensure that we use less in the first place.
Our next goal is to send zero waste to landfill from our manufacturing sites by 2025. It’s certainly an ambitious target, but we’ve already laid the groundwork. Indeed, our company-wide strategy to reduce energy waste is already showing impressive results, and we intend to use the same approach to tackle material waste. Close collaboration across the company will be essential to ensure that all business areas can fully contribute to this important initiative.
Meanwhile, our zero-deforestation plan is turning the focus further up the value chain to our suppliers. The EU’s forthcoming regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR) will require producers of paper-based products, such as SWM, to demonstrate that nothing they sell contributes to deforestation. We’re certainly on the right track with our goal of achieving net zero deforestation by 2025. And we’ll be working closely with our suppliers to make it happen – just one way we’re leveraging our role in the value chain to drive positive change.
Designing for sustainability
However, sustainability isn’t just about what goes into our products – it’s also about how we design them. More than a year ago, we launched our eco-score principle, which allows us to analyze our products according to the environmental impact of their components. This allows us to identify specific materials or processes that we can change to reduce the overall environmental impact of each SWM product. And when you apply this methodology to all the products that we manufacture, there’s a huge potential to make a positive impact!
Raising awareness of these eco-design principles is therefore another key priority for 2024. The focus in Q1 will be on training our R&D team, product managers, and operations colleagues in the fundamentals of the eco-design approach. The goal is to build a “common design vocabulary” that will make it easier for colleagues to communicate and collaborate, helping us to always keep sustainability in mind when designing and manufacturing products. Giving everyone access to this specialist knowledge is the best way to create lasting change.
Our ambition is also to embark the whole value chain by exchanging good practices and knowledge about broader sustainability issues across the industry. Last year, for example, customers from various fields of activities participated in the “Climate Fresk” educational initiative organized by SWM. This interactive team-building game encourages participants to work together to explore the drivers, mechanisms, and consequences of climate change. It helps everyone understand why even small improvements can have a significant impact. We think that this collaborative approach is more and more important to accelerate the pace and we will be pleased to organize joint sustainability engagement activities again in 2024.
Collaboration for a climate-positive future
Everyone on the ESG Team was drawn to work here by a passion for creating a better future for people and the planet – and it’s hugely encouraging to see that enthusiasm reflected throughout SWM. It’s also great to see that this passion is reflected by our customers. Many are actively involved in their own sustainability initiatives, and we work closely with their ESG teams to ensure that we’re aligned on key issues. After all, it will take collaboration at all levels to drive the kind of change we need to see. By helping to embed ESG thinking at all levels of the company, we can put ourselves in the best possible position to make the most of this growing momentum and develop a more sustainable future. So, thank you to everyone for your engagement so far, and we look forward to more exciting developments in 2024.