According to Korsnäs there is no doubt that consumers tend to become increasingly aware of environmental issues and more demanding with brands.
“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, their brand image - and to their competitiveness,” explains the Swedish supplier of cardboard packaging solutions.
In such a context, Korsnäs deems that to be distinctive and strong, a luxury brand has to address current environmental issues in a clear way and to deal with this matter in their communications. The choice of a responsible packaging solution is obviously a good start.
The advantages of wood fibre
As a cardboard maker, Korsnäs is convinced to benefit from a natural competitive advantage. Based on a report published by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute last year, Korsnäs explains that packaging based on wood fibre is the most environmentally friendly alternative. “It is better than plastic, which is derived from oil. Better than glass, which is heavy and energy intensive from a life-cycle perspective. And 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. Products made from fibre-based material, such as carton packaging, thus appear as a highly valuable sustainable option.
However, Korsnäs does not intend to limit itself to this natural asset. Actually, the carton maker is working at improving the sustainability of its entire manufacturing process. Sustainability is considered at all stages – including sourcing, forestry, production, energy utilisation and transport systems.
The company’s first goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, the main cause of climate warming. This goes for transport modes as well: Korsnäs’ recent shift from sea to rail transport alone has led to a 20-30% reduction of fossil carbon emissions.
Another area of progress includes waste heat projects. For instance, waste heat from the Korsnäs plant in Frövi replaces heating with fossil fuels in the local district heating system, delivering an annual 100 GWh 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 570-million SEK investment in a brand new evaporation plant at Korsnäs mills in Gävle. This investment will mean a 50% reduction in oil consumption for that part of the production process.
As many Nordic carton makers, Korsnäs has a leg up on the others with regard to sustainable development. There are several explanations to explain this situation: the sensitivity to environmental issues in Scandinavian countries, the characteristics of the paper and cardboard industry itself, which has been stigmatized for a long time because of its pollutant processes and which uses raw material that must be carefully managed to remain renewable.
“It takes a tree 70 years to grow to full height, which means that forestry – like any environmental work – is a long-term undertaking.” Consistently, Korsnäs’ forests are certified according to FSC and PEFC standards.
The company wants its efforts to positively impact its results, both by reducing production costs and by the positive image of the company and its products.
“Any brand that works with Korsnäs joins this positive environmental loop,” concludes Christer Simrén, CEO.