Ireland-based corrugated packaging manufacturer Smurfit Kappa has announced it has achieved a 25% reduction in its CO2 emissions three years earlier than expected.

The firm published this information in its annual Sustainable Development Report, in which it analyses its overall performance for the year 2017/18.

Despite Smurfit Kappa’s packaging being paper-based, renewable and recyclable, producing it is energy intensive, resulting in high carbon emissions. In a bid to decrease this consumption, the company said it focused on energy efficiency and on using renewable sources of fuel including biomass.

Smurfit Kappa said in its report it also achieved two other targets in 2017, namely a decrease in the chemical oxygen demand in its water and a drop by 9% in its year-on-year lost time accident frequency rate over the five-year period of 2013-2017.

Smurfit Kappa group chief executive Tony Smurfit said: “2017 was yet another year with a strong performance on sustainability metrics for Smurfit Kappa and I am confident this will continue into the future. In the next five years, we plan to allocate significant capital to projects that will contribute further towards lowering our environmental footprint and we will continue to invest significant resources in the development, safety and wellbeing of our people.

“This report is also evidence of our industry-leading transparency and demonstrates how Smurfit Kappa is making progress in supporting the UN’s 2030 Sustainability Development Goals.”

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One of the targets the company is yet to achieve is a 90% certification of Chain of Custody—certified deliveries to packaging customers across Europe and the Americas.

The Sustainable Development Report also showed Smurfit Kappa has been ranked in the top 1% of the EcoVadis Sustainability ratings and was listed in several investor rating systems including the FTSE4Good, Euronext Vigeo Europe 120, Ethibel and STOXX Global ESG Leaders.

Smurfit Kappa group vice president Steven Stoffer said: “For Smurfit Kappa, sustainability is not only about mitigating climate change and reducing inefficiency. For packaging to be truly sustainable, it must be produced and designed in a sustainable fashion and be biodegradable within a relatively short time after multiple usages. This results in minimal impact on the planet.

“Paper-based packaging is uniquely positioned to do this, and we strongly support the growing concern and efforts to put an end to the increasing mass of non-biodegradable, primarily plastic packaging floating in our oceans. This is why we believe that paper is the future of packaging.”