Spotlight on DS Smith’s climate change strategy

Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges of this century. It presents businesses of all sizes and in all industries with a unique range of challenges and opportunities, and is certainly high up on the DS Smith sustainability agenda.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took over the media headlines around the world a few weeks ago. The world’s leaders in government have been provided with strong recommendations by the IPCC on how to restrict warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and that all stakeholders must act fast with significant and rapid action, if we are to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

As reported in the DS Smith Sustainability Review 2018, the company has made significant progress in recent years. After meeting our original carbon reduction target for 2020 two years early, the company is now dedicated to meeting a new, more challenging target:

  • 30 per cent reduction in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions per tonne of production by 2030, against 2015 baseline.

Our approach to achieving our ambitious emissions reduction target is split into two areas, with approximately 15 per cent of carbon reduction to be achieved through each of:

  • fuel switching
  • energy efficiency initiatives.

Investments continue to be made in biomass boilers and Combined Heat Power at our paper mills and the LED lighting programme is making significant progress with the roll-out completed for the UK and Italy. 

Energy efficient LEDs light up Italy

DS Smith Packaging sites across Italy have successfully made the switch to LED lights as part of a company-wide energy efficiency project. The installation of over 5,000 lamps across 13 sites will save approximately 1,290 tonnes of CO2e over the 2018/19 business year. Many sites have also reduced the number of light fixtures and achieved an energy reduction of over 50%, whilst improving the light levels across the factory floor.

“By transforming the Italian plants from different technologies to LEDs, we can show that our attention is on health, safety and environmental aspects but also show our aspiration to make our factories the most advanced and sustainable in the market,” said Leonardo Matteucci, Deputy General Manager, Southern and Central Europe Cluster.

Shining a light on the future

Sites in France and Spain are currently installing their LED lights and will be followed by the rest of DS Smith’s European operations. As a business, the estimate is that these activities could reduce energy consumption equivalent to 12 Packaging sites and save 18,360 tonnes of CO2e a year - the emissions equivalent to driving a car around the Earth over 1,800 times!

Advocacy for a low-carbon future

Although DS Smith’s efforts as a business are commendable, many of our future plans depend on the decarbonisation of the grid and technological innovation across the energy sector.

The required change will only come from strong, legally enforceable, global policy.  

In October 2018, Group Chief Executive Miles Roberts met Lord Peter Mandelson at Kemsley paper mill in the UK to discuss policy and highlight our investments in anaerobic digestion and combined heat power plants.

As a business operating in 37 countries around the world, DS Smith is in a position to influence policy-makers, through organisations such as CEPI, CPI and FEFCO, to focus on the development of a low carbon, circular economy that addresses the unsustainable “take-make-dispose” consumption models that have contributed to the global climate change issue.