Sustainability Survey 2023 | Smurfit Kappa & Financial Times
Sustainability Research report


How is transparency delivering added value in corporate sustainability?

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Smurfit Kappa has partnered with the Financial Times to conduct a brand new piece of research to answer some of the most pressing questions when it comes to sustainability.

In a world where sustainability is increasingly business critical, companies must be both meticulous and ambitious in measuring, disclosing and assuring their efforts.

Find out how measurement, disclosure and assurance deliver added value and strengthen credibility in corporate sustainability.

The transparency edge

Businesses face rising consumer demands, political pressure, new regulatory requirements and evolving investor expectations. There is only one way to respond: with clarity, purpose and action. If they do, they will accelerate their progress on environmental and social targets and benefit from greater trust among their customers and other stakeholders. Transparency gives companies an edge – opening up new opportunities for innovation, growth and the creation of lasting value.

Our new research shows:

  • 50% of businesses claim to have tangible and ambitious plans to achieve net zero by 2050
  • 61% say sustainability is changing the way they measure financial performance
  • 63% have complete transparency on how and why sustainability decisions are made
  • 47% of businesses have prioritised packaging innovation as part of net zero targets

What will you learn from this research report

So, how are businesses using the power of transparency to accelerate true sustainability? And how can they connect their corporate reporting to sustainability goals in order to demonstrate action and prove effectiveness? On the other side of the equation, what do consumers expect from the businesses they buy products and services from? And what impact is transparency having on confidence and credibility when it comes to corporate sustainability?

Our new research sought to answer these questions:
  • Recognise that sustainability is a catalyst for change and creates opportunities for growth. A small group of ‘Sustainability Leaders’– just one in nine of our respondents – claim to have robust sustainability strategies in place. But a majority of businesses have introduced strategies in the past two years or are developing them.
  • The Sustainability Leaders, highlighted in the full report, are ahead on defining the actions they need to take to move towards net zero and on creating transparency around their actions on emissions.
  • The top barriers to becoming more credible on sustainability are inconsistent data access and a lack of supply-chain transparency.
  • Businesses must assure customers, investors and supply-chain partners that their data is robust in order to build confidence among these key stakeholders.

About the research

The data in this report is based on a survey commissioned by Smurfit Kappa and conducted by FT Longitude between October and December 2022. It builds on our 2020 report, 'Sustainability reshapes the business landscape for good', with new questions and an expanded sample.

Respondents included 440 senior and executive business leaders from retail and consumer products industries, including fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and e-commerce. All respondents have oversight of and/or responsibility for their organisation’s sustainability initiatives, and 25% hold C-suite roles. They were drawn from 11 major economies: Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, UK and US. This enables us to analyse regional differences in how businesses are approaching transparency on sustainability – for instance, between Europe and the Americas.

In addition to the quantitative research, FT Longitude also carried out a series of in-depth interviews with:

  • Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Senior Director, Group Sustainability & ESG, Carlsberg Group
  • Nina Hajikhanian, Director, DTC EMEA, Patagonia
  • Amanda Calder-McLaren, Senior Director, Brand and Communications, The North Face
  • Tim Orton, Chief Investment Officer, Aegon UK
  • Claudia Campillo Velásquez, VP Corporate Affairs and General Secretary, Grupo Éxito
  • Robert Eccles, Visiting Professor of Management Practice, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
  • Adrian Sen, Packaging Sustainability Innovation Manager, Colgate-Palmolive
  • Mads Twomey-Madsen, VP Corporate Communications & Sustainability, Pandora
  • Silvia Dávila, President of Latin America, Danone, and Co-Chair for The Consumer Goods Forum in Latin America
  • Cathrine de Coninck-Lopez, Global Head of ESG, Invesco
  • Ken Bowles, Chief Financial Officer, Smurfit Kappa
  • Garrett Quinn, Chief Sustainability Officer, Smurfit Kappa
  • Arco Berkenbosch, Vice President of Innovation and Development, Smurfit Kappa

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