Our customer-centric and sustainability-oriented approach and capabilities continue to help us navigate challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emerging concerns around supply chains and inflation, and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. We are confident in our people, processes, and strategy as we reflect on our sustainability performance in 2021. We aim to continue leading in sustainability in our industry and look forward to great next steps in the evolution of our business.
Our people are at the heart of all we do. The safety and well-being of IPG’s employees has always been a core principle driving decisions across IPG. We have learned that safety and well-being extend beyond the four walls of our organization into the community and to the greater global presence IPG has in various parts of the world. I am proud of the work we continue to undertake as we seek to reduce our carbon footprint and further commit our management team to achieve world-class performance in the design, production and use of our products in the marketplace.
For IPG, the last year has seen remarkable milestones. Maintaining the spirit of “doing the right thing” IPG proudly signed The Climate Pledge and is actively tracking to meet our commitment as we continue to put our products through the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Products Program. As we measure what we manage, we have implemented EcoVadis scoring to quantify our success and to measure that of our suppliers. We have signed the CEO Action Pledge and the CEO Water Mandate. We have made our CDP Climate disclosure and are actively working on our CDP Forest disclosure. We have adopted the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as part of our ambitious corporate climate action and remain focused on TRUE Zero Waste as well as Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) Blue initiatives. We signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion as evidence of a commitment to foster and develop a respectful and equitable work environment where all feel welcome. Our scorecards and formal commitments are made public to offer a measure of transparency to our employees, our customers, and all other stakeholders.
This report summarizes our sustainability performance and organizational structure in 2021. In June 2022, IPG was acquired by an affiliate of Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. (Clearlake). Our commitment to sustainability and our capabilities to address customer needs and grow through sustainable solutions were characteristics that attracted Clearlake to IPG. We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to our sustainability journey with Clearlake.
We continue to uncover new and innovative ways to make our products better for the planet and in the process, we are finding new ways to solve old problems. We remain focused on growth opportunities such as investing in product innovation, sustainability, market expansion, and above all, our people and communities. Our journey in sustainability has led us to set bigger goals, chart new destinations, and always do what is right so we can be proud of all we do for our business, people, and the planet.
When asked to describe IPG’s philosophy around sustainability in a single word my answer is this—commitment. At no time was this commitment more evident than in 2021. In a year that saw us challenged with COVID-19, supply chain issues, weather events, and labor shortages, we doubled down on our commitment to being a sustainability leader in packaging and protective packaging solutions.
We demonstrated this commitment in a number of ways including: becoming a signatory to The Climate Pledge and SBTi, increasing our family of Cradle to Cradle Certified products, signing the CEO Action Pledge and CEO Water Mandate, and committing to zero waste strategies in all our manufacturing facilities. None of this progress would have been possible without the buy-in from our Board of Directors, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Committee, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and all our other senior leaders.
How did we act on those commitments? As Benjamin Franklin said, “never confuse motion with action”. Often times companies will sign on to initiatives that look or sound good or make lofty promises around long-term goals but then fail to act. There is a lot of motion, but not a lot of action, so let me lay out some of the actions taken by us in 2021:
- FULLY ADOPTED the Cradle to Cradle® design principles
- CREATED a publicly available Zero Waste Policy and began a pilot project to obtain the TRUE Zero Waste certification
- RECEIVED the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year: Sustained Excellence award for the 7th straight year, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to energy efficiency
- INCREASED the number of Cradle to Cradle Certified product lines to eight, which is by far the most in the industry
- INCREASED our usage of renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy certificates while investigating additional renewable energy procurement options
- REDUCED our overall carbon footprint via several energy efficiency projects
- REPORTED to CDP Climate and received a score of B, above both the global average and our specific industry average
- PROVIDED unconscious bias training for our Board of Directors and management team
- CREATED strategies and roadmaps to continue to improve and increase our positive environmental footprint
None of these achievements would have been possible without the hard work of our Sustainable Value Networks, or SVNs. Our SVNs are teams made up of 10-15 cross-functional IPG employees and overseen by a member of our senior management. We modeled our SVNs after the key pillars of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program, namely: Material Health, Product Circularity, Clean Air & Climate Protection, Water and Soil Stewardship, and Social Fairness. Our SVNs, and their missions, are as follows:
- PRODUCT AND MATERIAL SVN Mission: To use the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program to certify products, assessing and optimizing the building blocks used in our products to fit into the circular economy of the future.
- CIRCULAR ECONOMY SOLUTIONS SVN Mission: To direct the development of IPG products to better align with the circular economy by improving their recyclability, increasing their recycled and or renewable content, and improving their recycling processes.
- OPERATIONAL FOOTPRINT SVN Mission: To eliminate the concept of waste.
- PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES SVN Mission: To align IPG’s activities to create a better future for our people and communities.
The SVNs are the engine that drives our sustainability program forward and are what enable us to turn motion into action. The journey will not be easy as we have set out some very aggressive timelines and goals, but if the past is any indication of the future, I am confident we will get there.
Our Approach to Sustainability
- MADE significant strides in operationalizing our sustainability approach and embedding it in every aspect of our operations, from product design and innovation to manufacturing and supply chain.
- ESTABLISHED a Charter for the ESG Committee on our Board of Directors of Intertape Polymer Group Inc. (Board of Directors).
- ESTABLISHED a Zero Waste Policy that commits us to have all manufacturing facilities Zero Waste Certified by 2030, and to divert at least 90 percent of the solid waste headed to landfills and incineration from our manufacturing facilities by 2030.
- SIGNED The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net- zero carbon by 2040, joining more than 200 other companies that have committed to the program co- founded by Amazon and Global Optimism.
- SIGNED the CEO Action Pledge, committing to a specific set of actions aimed at increasing inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
- SIGNED the CEO Water Mandate, a United Nations Global Compact (the Compact) initiative that mobilizes business leaders on water, sanitation, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Endorsers of the CEO Water Mandate commit to continuous progress against six core elements of stewardship and in so doing understand and manage their own water risks.
- ADOPTED a Sustainable Sourcing Policy and
announced additional sustainability goals, including:
- 50% of the energy used by IPG, at a minimum, will be renewable by 2030.
- IPG’s workforce will be reflective of the demographics in the communities in which it operates by 2030.
- REVISED our Energy Policy.
- CONDUCTED virtual energy and sustainability summits.
- EXPANDED our sustainability reporting to additional frameworks, including CDP and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
- LAUNCHED implementation of EcoVadis, a global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rating tool based on international standards, to conduct individual sustainability performance assessments of our key supply chain partners.
- SET GOAL to achieve Cradle to Cradle Certified status for at least 75%, by revenue, of products manufactured by IPG, by 2025. Collectively our certified products represent 50% of IPG products by revenue, putting us on track to meet our goal of 75% by 2025.1
- SET GOAL to reach 75% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging products manufactured by IPG, by revenue, by 2025 and 100% by 2030. At the end of 2021, 65% of our packaging products, by revenue, were recyclable, reusable, or compostable.
- MET GOAL to establish and implement a How2Recycle labeling strategy for all eligible products by the end of 2021.
- EXPANDED the number of Cradle to Cradle Certified product families/lines; adding two at the Bronze level and two at the Silver level.
- CONTINUED to realize improvements in our safety performance with a focus on the elimination of high potential incidents while realizing a downward trend in our Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), for the third year in a row.
- CONTINUED to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.
- CONTINUED focus on health & wellness, with increased focus and communications company-wide.
- COMMUNICATED to our suppliers IPG’s participation in the Compact and our expectation that our suppliers abide by its commitments, even if they are not signatories themselves.
- COMPLETED actions stemming from the 2019 employee engagement survey, including more frequent and interactive virtual employee meetings, new feedback mechanisms, engagement training for supervisors and managers, and recognition programs.
- CONDUCTED a 2021 employee engagement survey and formalized action plans to address issues identified by our employees.
- CONDUCTED Leader Standard Work and core leadership training for supervisory employees.
- CONDUCTED unconscious bias awareness training with the Board of Directors, human resources and senior management.
- UPDATED our Charitable Giving and Sponsorship Program.
- ESTABLISHED mechanisms to track philanthropic spending and inform baselines for future performance.
- EXPANDED the emission sources we consider in our energy use and emissions profile to provide a more holistic accounting of our energy use and carbon footprint.
- CONDUCTED training with our water conservation team on the CEO Water Mandate, and evaluated additional required actions including exploring opportunities to build closer ties with local and regional civil society organizations and encouraging our suppliers to improve their water conservation practices.
- REALIZED just over 10% reduction in our total water use from 2020 to 2021.
- COMPLETED our CDP Climate Change report for 2020, achieving a rating of B, which exceeds the average score for both our specific sector as well as the entire pool of submissions.
- INITIATED activities required by the CEO Water Mandate.
- ACHIEVED Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) Demand Champion recognition for the second year in a row, signifying our support of increased post- consumer recycled content in our products.
- RECEIVED the 2022 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence award (7th year in a row).
- ACHIEVED the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry at our Carbondale, IL facility in 2021 for the 5th time.
- ACHIEVED the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry at our Midland, NC facility in 2021 for the first time and within one year from its baseline.
- AWARDED the ENERGY STAR® in 2021 for superior energy efficiency for the second time at our Danville, VA regional distribution center (RDC).
- OBTAINED the ISO 50001 certification in Danville, VA and Truro, Nova Scotia.
- CONTINUED participation in the Clean Energy Buyers Association.
- CONTINUED to grow our business despite the pandemic, demonstrating our ability to address the challenges of an uncertain environment.
- MANAGED successfully through COVID-19 and return to work with responsive systems and processes while taking measures to protect employee health and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks and exposures while at work.
- ADVANCED an enterprise risk management structure and governance based on the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) framework.
- ACCOMMODATED the data security and technology needs to support the increased number of remote employees and significant demand on our e-commerce platform.
Our Approach to Sustainability
- INCREASE the number of facilities with ISO 9001, 14001, and 50001 certifications, and expand participation in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)
- ENHANCE data collection and assurance protocols for further transparency in our sustainability reporting.
- INCREASE the number of Cradle to Cradle Certified products.
- DEFINE and step into our role to help address the global challenge of plastic waste.
- CONTINUE to focus on sustainable packaging to help to develop the market for sustainable packaging materials.
- DEVELOP a supply chain for plastic recyclate that performs as well or better than the current raw material supply chain for resin.
- IMPLEMENT sustainable packaging for IPG’s packaged products and eliminate the use of PVC in packaging.
- EXPAND the use of renewable materials as potential replacements for non-renewable material sources and drive demand for recycled content by including post-consumer recycled content in our products.
- CONTINUE to work with our suppliers and third-party assessors to evaluate the human and environmental health impacts of our raw materials and finished products.
- CONTINUE to focus on improving safety performance across all IPG locations.
- CONTINUE to foster and develop a respectful and equitable work environment that allows room for individuals of varying walks of life to feel welcome.
- STRIVE to create a diverse, global workforce that reflects the communities in which we operate.
- EXPLORE ways to better understand the risk for child labor, forced or compulsory labor, or limits to freedom of association or collective bargaining in our operations and supply chain.
- CONTINUE to integrate our culture of community stewardship throughout our global facilities, including our more recent acquisitions.
- INCREASE the number of Cradle to Cradle Certified products.
- CONTINUE our energy and carbon reduction efforts to meet our long-term reduction goals.
- FOCUS on water conservation with an emphasis on operations in high-water risk geographies, where our water use rose by 25% in 2021.
- BROADEN renewable energy purchasing options.
- EXPLORE additional opportunities to reduce our waste generation, and eliminate the waste sent to landfills.
- IDENTIFY and prioritize risks and risk mitigation in support of business strategy.
- IDENTIFY additional risks and opportunities posed by climate change that can generate substantive changes in operations, revenue, or expenditures.
- CONTINUE to innovate to offset physical, regulatory, and reputational risks and meet related market opportunities.
- CONTINUE to maintain the data security posture of our organization to protect our most valued assets both now and into the future.
1 Calculated using the full-year sales of Cradle to Cradle Certified products to better reflect current performance.