Today’s customers are aware. They are used to placing personal demands on brands, and they are sensitive to how brands handle their environmental responsibility. A typical tell-tale sign is the packaging because packaging is not only about design and function, it’s also about the management of the planet’s resources and the impact on the environment.

Packaging has become an increasingly important part of the overall brand experience, a factor that determines selection or rejection. In an age of climate consciousness, consumers dislike over-packaging and wastefulness while preferring smart and economical solutions. Brands that have learned this lesson add to their credibility and brand image – and to their competitiveness.

For Korsnäs, a leading Swedish supplier of packaging solutions, this is self evident. Any brand, whether in the luxury segment or not, has to relate to current environmental issues in a clear way. Brands have to deal with this matter in their brand communications. To be distinctive and strong, a brand has to make a statement. The choice of a responsible packaging solution is a good start.

A report published by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute on 3 September 2009 states that packaging based on wood fibre is the most environmentally friendly alternative. It is better than plastic, which is derived from oil, and better than glass, which is heavy and energy-intensive from a lifecycle perspective. It is also better than aluminium, which is expensive to recycle and whose supply is questionable. Wood fibre comes from a renewable source, has a limited environmental impact and can be recycled up to seven times.

Fibre-based material – the sustainable packaging option

In other words, this report arrives very much at the same conclusions as previous reports. Fibre-based material is your sustainable option. At Korsnäs, environmental work has always been an integrated part of operations. Sustainability is considered at all stages – including sourcing, forestry, production, energy utilisation and transport systems.

Global warming is an urgent issue these days. Korsnäs has worked consistently and persistently for many years to reduce our use of fossil fuels. This goes for transport modes as well: Korsnäs’s recent shift from sea to rail transport alone has led to a 20%-30% reduction of fossil carbon emissions.

Furthermore, there are the waste heat projects. Waste heat from the Korsnäs plant in Frövi replaces heating with fossil fuels in the local district heating system, delivering an annual 100GWh to 4,500 flats, schools, industrial buildings and public buildings. Similarly, the Korsnäs plant in Gävle supplies waste heat for district heating 20,000 households in that municipality.

Another example of good thinking in energy utilisation is the use of dry wood bark in the production process. Moist or wet bark consumes more energy in the bark boiler. Since 2002 the bark used in Korsnäs boilers is dried by the sun’s rays. It is a simple but effective technology that has reduced the boiler’s oil consumption by 90%. Other recent achievements include a SEK570 million investment in a new evaporation plant at one of Korsnäs’s mills that will mean a 50% reduction in oil consumption for that part of the production process.

It takes a tree 70 years to grow to full height, which means that forestry – like any environmental work – is a long-term undertaking. A growing, healthy forest is in itself part of the solution to the carbon problem. The more it grows, the better it binds up carbon dioxide. A well-managed forestry operation is beneficial from an environmental point of view. Korsnäs’s forests are certified according to FSC and PEFC standards.

“Any brand that works with Korsnäs joins this positive environmental loop,” says Christer Simrén, CEO Korsnäs. “Our sustainability work reflects favourably on your brand because you become part of the same value system and you take advantage of the same environmental improvements. You can stand tall, look anyone in the eye and know that you are doing the right thing.”