Get ahead with science-based environmental savings

written by IFCO SYSTEMS, 2nd June 2022, in Stories

ESG are three letters that pack a powerful punch. Team them up with three more – LCA – and you’ve got yourself a solid foundation for sustainable, measurable and purposeful innovation. Together, they create the basis you need to deliver science-based environmental savings across your supply chain.

Why is ESG and LCA on everyone’s lips right now?

ESG and LCA. Doesn’t that have a certain ring to it? A nice rhythm even? The letters work well together, but not just because they deliver a cool sound. Used strategically, ESG and LCA have the potential to deliver so much more than popular sound bites.

In a nutshell, ESG covers the three key areas that can determine how sustainable your operations are now and are likely to be in the future. The three letters stand for environmental, social and governance. It’s quite a mouthful (which explains why the abbreviation comes in handy!), but there’s a good reason for this.

What does ESG mean in practice?

First off, a joined-up ESG program can help our industry make an even more positive impact not only on the environment, but on our society, too. What about that "G"? It may be the last letter but it’s central to running a more responsible business.

The "G" shines a spotlight on the values and standards that shape a company. Good governance leads to ethical business practices. Without the "G", you won’t have the impact you need on the "E" or the "S" in ESG!

All in all, focusing on ESG generates value for employees, customers, investors and communities. Above all, it can unlock amazing opportunities for environmental savings and sustainable growth.

Bringing real benefits with ESG and LCA

The same can be said of LCA, which stands for life cycle assessment. These three words describe a complex process that helps uncover the potential impact of a product or service on our planet and our health.

LCAs are useful tools for identifying possible environmental hotspots. And they are everywhere – including in the production phase, during usage and at the end-of-life or disposal stage of a product. Or a service, for that matter.

While ESG and LCA can stand alone, they work best together. A smart combination of ESG and LCA is imperative to help identify the potential for science-based environmental savings. What’s more, ESG and LCA can meet the growing demand for transparent information on the environmental impact of products and services.

So, what does it take to deliver on transparency and sustainability with ESG and LCA? In our experience, you need a team of specialists equipped with the right tools and talents to tap strategically into both. Crucially, you need to take a long-term view to create innovative sustainable solutions.

ESG supports transparency and sustainability at IFCO

"ESG has created momentum in our industry for impactful change," notes Iñigo Canalejo, IFCO Vice President ESG. "Fortunately, we had a distinct advantage when this wave hit. From the outset, we have always put sustainability and the health of our planet, our people and our business at the heart of everything we do."

ESG is basically just another term for what was already deeply embedded in our circular business model on day one. "For thirty years, we have been running an intrinsically sustainable operation," continues Canalejo. "Our ESG strategy builds on our legacy to deliver tangible benefits for our industry."

What are those benefits? Now, this is where the LCA comes in.

“Our ESG strategy builds on our legacy to deliver tangible benefits for our industry”

Iñigo Canalejo

IFCO Vice President ESG

Why do we need life cycle assessments on top of ESG?

A life cycle assessment provides a scientific analysis of the environmental impacts of a product or service. It covers countless factors that go into the manufacturing process to everything that happens at its end of life: it’s a cradle-to-grave analysis. And as such, it’s no trivial matter. Putting together the necessary data and analyzing it all takes time and effort. But it’s totally worth it.

"The purpose of a life cycle assessment is to inform decision-making," explains Canalejo. "Such studies support businesses in understanding the impact they can make by choosing a more environmentally sustainable product." Just as ESG is nothing new to IFCO, neither is LCA. "Our first LCA was carried out in 2004," highlights Canalejo. "You could say we’ve mastered it now. We know all there is to know!"

We’re also keen to share this knowledge. Which is exactly what Canalejo does in our free webinar (in English): Achieve science-based environmental savings.

Using the best science to inform your decision-making

Ultimately, drawing science-based conclusions on all the potential environmental impacts requires considerable expertise, credentials and customized software. Such expertise is personified by people like Beverly Sauer, LCA Project Manager at Franklin Associates, a division of ERG.

After over 30 years in the field, Sauer can pinpoint exactly how and why companies, customers and consumers benefit from such assessments

Sauer kindly joined our webinar and shares her insights in conversation with Canalejo. As she makes abundantly clear, robust, transparent life cycle assessments help everyone better understand what’s going on behind the scenes.

"An LCA has the value of identifying the main contributors to the environmental impacts for your systems and competitor systems," she says. "With an LCA, you can see how you stack up against others in the marketplace. And you can also target your efforts for improving your environmental profile."

But that’s not all! "When a transparent LCA reveals that the decisions you are taking are having a more positive impact on the environment, that reflects highly on you," adds Canalejo.

Independent studies bring independent insights

Convinced by their expertise, experience and independence, we assigned the in-depth LCA of our IFCO reusable packaging containers (RPCs) to Franklin Associates. We chose this organization because we wanted the study to look at our impact on the environment across multiple levels and, crucially, for the results to be independently verified.

The LCAs on our RPCs were therefore carried out according to established and recognized international standards. Most notably, the LCAs performed by Franklin Associates are ISO 14044 compliant and peer reviewed by a panel of experts to guarantee credibility.

We weren’t disappointed with the key findings – and believe you won’t be either.

Passion and commitment to sustainability pays off

"The LCA confirms that our customers not only reduce their CO2 emissions when they switch to our RPCs, but they also cut down on water consumption, energy use, solid waste and food waste," highlights Canalejo. "This reduces the overall environmental footprint of their supply chain operations."

So, there you have it. Independently confirmed in black and white. Our reusable packaging containers bring the environmental savings and benefits over single-use packaging that the modern supply chain needs. Above all, the LCA shows that our passion and commitment to sustainability is paying off. We’re helping to make a mark on the industry that will be far-reaching in a positive way.

ESG and LCA support our circular economy model

How exactly do we tie together all these factors from ESG and LCA to get the results that support your sustainability goals? We incorporate both fully into our circular model for pooling RPCs. Your first big step to greater sustainability is our end-to-end durable and reusable packaging solution.

Our circular approach centers around the Learn more IFCO SmartCycle™, a unique, closed-loop "share-and-reuse" RPC pooling system. By embracing circularity, our model ensures that you reduce your emissions in the global fresh grocery supply chain. By driving resource efficiency in production, usage and recycling, we are helping our partners reach our common goal of making the supply chain sustainable.

All the expert insights you need on ESG and LCA

Crucially, taking a holistic look at the fresh grocery supply chain through an ESG and LCA lens can help identify potential areas for science-based environmental savings. Gradually, a picture forms in front of you on the impact of a product throughout its life cycle. Exactly how you can create such a picture is explored in more detail in our latest webinar.

Hear from Beverly Sauer and Iñigo Canalejo as they take a deep dive into the ins and outs of ESG and LCAs and share why they both matter for the fresh grocery supply chain. Better still, using concrete examples from our own kitchens, Sauer successfully demystifies the whole process. Her insights highlight how important life cycles assessments are to inform decision-making for sustainable operations.

Curious how this all fits into the LCA on IFCO RPCs? Canalejo has you covered. He’ll explain the very tangible environmental savings and benefits our RPCs bring. You’ll also learn how we ensure these results are achieved and improved. Getting it right is no mean feat.

We’re positive you’ll gain new and useful insights from this webinar and will enjoy the conversation. It’s one that everyone who is involved in the fresh grocery supply chain needs to be having right now about the environmental impact of their operations.

Curious how ESG and LCA can benefit your modern supply chain?

Watch our ESG webinar (in English):

Achieve science-based environmental savings

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