As a packaging and protective solutions company, our products are made primarily from paper and plastic. Concern about plastic use continues to increase, and statistics about its persistence in the environment abound.
At IPG, we acknowledge this reality and take steps to drive changes, both within our walls and in the industry, to realize more sustainable solutions. In 2020, we adopted our Sustainable Product Design and Development Vision Statement, which places the precautionary principle outlined in the Compact and the C2C design principles as central pillars to guide our aspirational sustainable product lifecycle goals. 102-11
Also in 2020, we began the development of a goal to have a percentage of the products we manufacture certified by C2C by 2025. To achieve this goal, we will integrate C2C Certification into our new product development and procurement processes, assessing all inputs used in manufacturing IPG products and prioritizing optimization opportunities. To date, four products have achieved certification; two at the Bronze level (water-activated tape and Nova Shield structure membrane products), and two at the Silver level (ExlPlus performance shrink films and SuperFlex and StretchFlex stretch films). Together, our certified products represented 21% of total IPG sales in 2020. For 2021, we have identified ten additional products for certification and already submitted two of them. We will also be prioritizing alternatives to PVC packaging. In 2020, reusable, recyclable, and compostable products generated 28% of our revenue. RT-CP-410A.2
We manage our research and development (R&D) efforts at the product level, overseen by the IPG R&D Leadership Team. Our approach is to design for next-use, and the following sustainable product design criteria and development guidelines are used throughout the enterprise wherever and whenever possible:
- Measure and assess our products per the C2C Certified Product Standard. Target C2C Certified Product Standard Silver status for new products and evaluate our current product lines to implement measures to achieve Silver status for existing products.
- Eliminate the use of toxic substances from new and existing products, as well as our manufacturing processes.
- Incorporate recycled and renewable materials in product design and purchasing.
- Reduce raw material usage without compromising the integrity and function of the product.
- Improve the recyclability of existing products and design with an aspirational goal of 100% of our products being recyclable.
- Minimize the environmental impact across all products’ lifecycle and design products to facilitate positive environmental impacts through the rest of the supply chain.
In 2019, we established cross-functional teams charged with setting sustainability goals for IPG to fully integrate sustainability as a driver for IPG’s businesses moving forward. Our Materials and Product Innovation team, headed by the Director, Product Management and reporting to the Senior Vice-President, Supply Chain and Global Sourcing, focuses on utilizing the C2C Certified Product Standard to drive and measure our product innovation process. For certification, the standard assesses environmental and social performance across five critical sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Over time, more sustainable options (e.g., renewable or natural materials, renewable energy) replace less sustainable options (e.g., nonrenewable or harmful materials, fossil fuel-based energy use). The standard encourages continuous improvement over time by awarding certification based on ascending performance levels and requiring certification renewal every two years. Products can be certified as Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. 103-2
The inventory and assessment process is complex. The first step is an inventory of the product, including identifying all its material components. Suppliers must share the components in their products, which we accomplish through a third party. Our Global Sourcing Team assists by facilitating C2C material assessments of our suppliers and fostering engagement with key suppliers. Once identified, we assess the components to identify improvement opportunities, including exploring natural products to replace petroleum-based materials. Once the team completes the selected improvements, they submit the product for certification. RT-CP-410A.3
Sustainable Packaging Coalition/How2Recycle® In partnership with How2Recycle, IPG offers consumers information on the opportunities to recycle our products. How2Recycle is a voluntary, standardized labeling system that communicates recycling instructions to the public. At the end of 2020, a total of 10 IPG product lines have been approved to use the How2Recycle labeling system.
The global economy’s established manufacturing processes are predominately linear—extracting the raw materials needed, making a product, and then disposing of it at the end of its useful life. This Take-Make-Waste model is unsustainable, becoming even more so as the population of the planet increases and the need to provide a sustainable life for all becomes a universal goal. For a global company such as IPG, the impact can also be global.
But there is an alternative. Called the “circular economy,” it emulates natural lifecycles, and eliminates the concept of waste so that all products and their components become “food” for other systems—either biological (returning to nature) or technical (returning to industry).
Achieving a circular economy is not easy and requires a global change in how we make our products. But at IPG, we believe we can get there. IPG’s Manager, Research and Development reports to our Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing and oversees our Circular Economy Solutions SVN. This SVN has a mission to direct the development of IPG products to better align with the Circular Economy by improving their recyclability, increasing their recycled/renewable content, decreasing their reliance on virgin raw materials, and improving their recycling processes with the overall goal of designing or redesigning products that fit in a circular economy. 103-2
The primary raw materials used by IPG include resins, adhesives, paper, additives, color concentrates, and reinforcements, along with lesser amounts of several other materials. We are exploring long-term goals to increase our products’ recyclability, committing that IPG’s Packaging Products will be recyclable, reusable, or compostable by targeted percentages. We have classified all product families as recyclable or non-recyclable, and if non-recyclable, identified why. IPG has set a goal to establish and implement a How2Recycle labeling strategy for all eligible products by the end of 2021. For those that are not recyclable, we are working to improve their recyclability. At the end of 2020, 47% of our packaging products, by sales, were recyclable, reusable, or compostable.
Other paths to increase our products’ circularity are to explore the use of renewable materials as potential replacements for non-renewable material sources and to drive demand for recycling by including post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in our products. Both of these efforts are underway.
Our goals explore ways to increase the externally- sourced recycled material in our products, committing to IPG’s protective packaging products containing a targeted percentage of recycled content, of which a specified amount will be post-consumer. For plastics, our challenge in achieving this goal is obtaining the recycled materials at the quality level needed for our products. The market to provide these materials is lacking, though demand is increasing. As a result, quality post-consumer recycled materials are difficult to produce and costly to procure. We are working with multiple PCR manufacturers who are driving quality improvements in the PCR industry, and in 2020 successfully identified viable sources for PCR resins, purchasing over 38 metric tons of plastic resins comprised of PCR content.
For paper, the challenge is meeting the quality performance requirements for our products with recycled fibers. In 2020, we purchased wood-fiber-based raw materials from sources considered to be renewable, or from certified sources, but none containing recycled content. RT-CP-430A.1
In 2020, we purchased approximately 260,000 metric tons of primary raw materials, compared with approximately 186,000 metric tons in 2019* and 191,000 metric tons in 2018*. Of this amount, 23% is from renewable resources, while 77% is from non- renewable resources. 301-1 In 2020, the percentage of recycled input materials (raw materials from recycled content) used to manufacture our primary products was 0.01%, 23% from renewable resources, and 23.01% combined. 301-2, RT-CP-410A.1
IPG Becomes an APR Recycling Demand Champion
IPG became an Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) Demand Champion in 2020. The APR Recycling Demand Champions Campaign helps drive investment and increase post-consumer recycled resin supply (PCR).
IPG has adopted a Sustainable Product Design and Development Vision Statement, which places the precautionary principle as outlined in the Compact and the C2C principles as central pillars to guide our aspirational sustainable product lifecycle goals. Our vision commits us to eliminate the use of toxic substances from new and existing products and our manufacturing processes and incorporate recycled and renewable materials in product design and purchasing while maintaining product performance. At its core, our vision will allow us to apply “safe and circular” concepts to our design and development of our products.
Our Product and Materials Innovation SVN will use the C2C protocol to certify products, assess, and optimize the building blocks used in our products to fit into the circular economy of the future. Using our C2C process, we intend to assess our products (all new and existing) for material health. According to the C2C protocol, the material health review generates material assessment ratings based on the hazards of chemicals in products and their relative routes of exposure during use and end-of-use product phases. The C2C protocol drives a continuous improvement process, requiring review every two years, so materials for which no alternatives are feasible during one review may be reassessed and improved in a subsequent review cycle. Find more information about the Material Health Assessment on the C2C website. RT-CP-410A.3
Assessing all of our products for material health is not a simple undertaking. The Product and Materials Innovation SVN, headed by the Director, Product Management and reporting to the Senior Vice – President, Supply Chain and Global Sourcing, focuses on utilizing the C2C Certified Product Standard to drive and measure our product innovation process. 103-2
The C2C material health protocol also includes an extensive list of banned substances and targeted threshold levels, including lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, phthalates, phenols, and formaldehyde. We aspire to remove these C2C banned substances from our products and manufacturing processes. RT-CP-250A.2
As discussed in the Product Design & Innovation section of this report (see page 13), four products were certified in 2020 using the C2C process.
We make our products to perform for our customers, for business growth, and increasingly for the good of the planet. We balance innovation, material health, and regulatory requirements, as well as C2C principles.
In 2020, we were incredibly pleased to have had our products perform to our usual high standard, continue our sustainability journey with respect to our products, and have our products be essential in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as described below.
E-Commerce Lifeline: As the pandemic unfolded, we mobilized our supply chain to keep our customers’ (major online retailers) e-commerce moving with a full array of domestically available packaging sup- plies to keep up with an unprecedented demand for shipped goods.
Containment Solutions: In accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations and mandates by local, state, and national government, our containment solutions meet needs and provide help in times of crisis.
- Social distancing floor marking tape (masking tape, aisle marking tape)
- Economical duct tape for bag sealing in hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers dealing with medical waste
- Duct tape and polyethylene tapes for sealing HAZMAT and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Double-coated tape and polyethylene tapes for quick and easy hanging of poly sheeting and poly drapes
- Structure fabric for COVID-19 temporary testing/ medical structures
- NovaWrap™ Aspire, a nonwoven breathable house wrap, has passed both AAMI level 2 and 3 requirements as a medical/surgical gown material (see sidebar PG 20)
- Heavy-duty, water and UV-resistant poly tape for sealing, seaming, and repair of temporary structures
- Barricade tapes and polyethylene tapes to easily block off areas to ensure government health guidelines
Curbside Pickup & Retail Solutions: We were ready to help businesses create and maintain a steady flow of properly spaced customers with a full array of domestically available tapes and other products to keep up with changing dynamics.
- Polyethylene tapes for marking social distancing areas at business pickup sites
- Aisle marking tapes for traffic management
- Colored masking tapes and dispensers for color-coding takeout containers and food categories and for marking social distancing area, aisles, and hazard areas
- Bag sealing tapes and dispensers for color coding and bag sealing
- Tape shooter 404 dispensers for packaging deli products
- Barricade and flagging ribbons for marking restricted areas
- Double-coated tapes for posting informational signage informational signage
Back to the Classroom Solutions: When it came time to return to schools and universities, our products were ready to help create and maintain a safe and productive learning environment.
Water-Activated Tape: In February 2020, our natural kraft water-activated tape (also known as WAT or Gum Tape) was awarded the first worldwide C2C Bronze certification for a carton closure product. All our water-activated tape is recyclable with the carton on which it is applied, contributing to the recycling stream with corrugate cartons, one of the most widely recycled packaging products.
Exfilmplus® Shrink Film: In July 2020, Exfilmplus® performance shrink films were awarded the first worldwide C2C Silver certification for shrink film. Exfilmplus® films are cross-linked, providing customers with a stronger film capable of working in a wider variety of equipment and sealing systems.
NovaShield® Structure Membrane: In August 2020, NovaShield® Structure Membrane products were awarded the first worldwide C2C Bronze certification for a structure membrane product. NovaShield® Structure Membrane products are used to construct fabric buildings for all climates and feature a patented weave that produces impressive strength-to-weight ratios, and its lighter weight makes for easier, faster, money-saving installations.
StretchFLEX® and SuperFLEX® Stretch Film: In In October 2020, our SuperFLEX® and StretchFLEX® stretch films became the first worldwide C2C Certified Silver stretch wrap products. Stretch film is primarily used to secure pallet loads of products before shipment or warehouse relocation. IPG produces blown stretch film and cast stretch film in our modern stretch production facilities, assuring we will have the right type of product to offer our customers, regardless of the application.
We consider all our products’ material health and safety impacts by applying voluntary and mandated health and safety assessments during the develop- ment and manufacturing process. 416-1 Our goal is to use the demanding C2C standards to assess all our products. See the Circular Economy section of this report on page 15.
We provide technical data and article information sheets with detailed information about our products on our website and respond to regulatory or specific substance queries. When applicable, product labels include information such as safety warnings or recycling protocols. 417-1 For more information, see the Product Design & Innovation section of this report on page 13.
IPG Collaborates with Stanfield’s to Manufacture PPE Medical Clothing
In March 2020, our facility in Truro, Nova Scotia partnered with Stanfield’s, another local manufacturer that makes clothing, and retooled our operations to make coated fabrics for PPE and medical clothing for healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. At Truro, the Research and Development team worked to get our NovaWrap Aspire product, a nonwoven breathable house wrap, qualified as surgical gown material. We supplied this material in large quantities to the clothing manufacturer, and they sewed it into the much-needed protective gowns used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Through a network of several clothing converters we sold enough material for approximately 11 million medical gowns in 2020. Here IPG employee Trevor Arthurs models one of the gowns.
Tuck Tape in Hospitals and the News
During the pandemic, IPG’s Tuck Tape brand sheathing tapes have been used in hospitals to create negative-pressure isolation wards by sealing gaps, doors, windows, ceiling panels, and other air intrusions in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. In Ontario, Canada, a family used Tuck Tape to create a “hug glove” to hug their grandmother safely on Mothers’ Day.