The packaging manufacturer

The story of Norman Gierow, European Marketing Lead SIG.

Who are you and what is a fact that little people that know you know?

My name is Norman, I am from Germany and work for SIG for over 13 years already. I worked in different roles in marketing and product development. In the last 2 years I am the lucky person that leads the European Marketing Team. SIG is the proud supplier of the packaging of B-Better. Our pack is FSC® certified (Forest Stewardship Council®)*, ASI certified and 90% plant-based.

A special thing about me is that I am a competitive sportsman, I have always done a lot of swimming, lifeguarding and I participated in a triathlon. In my kids’ days I collected a lot of medals and somehow as I got older, I lost that spirit a bit. I still live healthy, try to work out and eat healthy. That is also why I like B-Better. I also like to cycle a bit, but I am not as good as the Team Jumbo-Visma yet…

 

What is the relationship between B-Better and SIG?

Our relationship started with the partnership on the sustainability arena and on the alignment to drive sustainable packaging solutions. This was about to years ago.. Great to see that B-Better water chose SIG as a packaging supplier foremost for sustainability reasons, and secondly for the convenience and differentiation of the packaging.. We’ve worked very closely together to get the most sustainable package, and to collect new information regarding the lifecycle of the packaging.

Together with B-Better we performed a lifecycle analysis at an independent research organization. I believe this is an example of a good way to work together with a brand team and a packaging supplier

 

What does sustainable packaging mean to you?

I am personally very convinced about the sustainable journey of SIG. We got a program developed which is called ‘Way beyond good’, which is basically our roadmap to move towards a net positive and fully circular world. We as SIG strive to be the first to take steps on sustainability and try to implement these steps as soon as we have them.

For example, we started as one of the first with FSC certification, we started with ASI certification and we were the first ones who used plant-based plastic in our packages. We set standards in the market and I am personally very proud of this. Especially because we practice what we preach like with the new packaging of B-Better, this was developed to stay and not as a once off. Therefore, we try to find more and more brands to work with this new sustainable packaging material.

In the end it is our goal to lower the carbon emissions; be more bio-based then ever before; and remove everything that is bad from our packaging. We look at this as a journey with a step by step approach and want to lead the change. I don’t want to say that we have the best packaging today, this will always be something we strive for and what drives our development.

 

Why did B-Better choose your packaging?

The complete pack is thought through, with FSC cardboard, ASI certified Aluminum, and the highest percentage of plant-based materials. I therefore believe B-Better chose us because of the environmental credentials that we could offer and the fact that the carbon emission is 66% lower vs plastic bottles*(*Life-cycle assessment water packaging, the Netherlands, format 750ml). Finally, in combination with a super convenient and differentiating shape. We tried to bring those 2 worlds together in 1 pack.

 

What was the biggest challenge to develop this packaging type and how did you tackle this?

To bring a package together like this is quite a big effort even for a company like ours. We have 3 certification schemes that we have to manage, the FSC, ASI and ICC+. Next to testing this technically, it is the question do you have the right suppliers, or do we have to change some suppliers who could not offer this certified material? Is it possible to fit this material in our own supply chain? Plus, we needed to get the tracking systems and certification process in place. Indeed, this is a challenge, it still is. It is a new level of management you have to bring in. It is a level which we didn’t have in our IT-systems before. We have to manage the tracking very carefully via our IT to be able to have all information ready when we need to show where our materials are coming from and to proof that these materials are indeed certified.

With the ASI certification we are the first ones to use this, so we partnered a lot with the ASI organization to help them to improve the material. The same counts for FSC where we were the first and for ICC+. We put all this in place because we want to be sure the material is really sustainable and no tricks in the bag as I call it. So indeed, it is a challenge in terms of certification, organization, implementation, execution and development to make sure that the certification works.

 

How do you start creating sustainable packaging solutions?

Sustainable packaging is in our DNA, because – as our name might suggest – carton beverage packaging mostly consist out of carton which is originating from a renewable source, wood.

Even before we create sustainable packaging solutions, we have to be clear about the long-term strategy, for example that we don’t use food crops. And that we in turn stick to this strategy. For this we first have big discussions internally about what sustainable material choice we believe fits our packaging best. Then we make a choice, then we go out and try to find suppliers of this material. Then we see how we can make it happen and then only the certification comes into place and then we execute it and then we have to manage it. Therefore, we can completely stand behind the use of the Signature material, because it is not just a combination of material, it is the result of a long-term strategy and based on what is most sustainable and most responsible to do.

So, a lot of prework went into the choice of this packaging and then we have to make sure that it is true what we’re doing, proof it and then certification comes into place. And again, we were the first ones to do all this, so there was no standard before. We had to invent all solutions ourselves and make it suitable for our industry. It wasn’t already available in a ‘packaging supermarket’ or whatsoever. We really developed this ourselves and it helped that we have the strategy in place which tells us the boundaries about what sustainable and responsible packaging is and what is not.

 

How do you see the future of B-Better?

I see it as an innovative and modern brand, and I like it how you connected the brands’ communication to the sustainable values it stands for. It seems like a good fit and it seems like more and more people are looking for this mix of the two worlds of sustainable packaging and health. At SIG we really like your brand because you present the benefits of the packaging to consumers in a very nice way.

 

*License code: FSC® C020428

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