Two case studies were analyzed to find their best practices and KPIs, which were compared with the ones identified in the literature review. At this point, it is important to underline that the proposed case studies are limited to only two companies, which is insufficient to cover all SDSC behaviors, and more case studies might allow for more precise indications.
5.1. Case Study A
The first case study concerns a soft drink company, which has four plants and more than 20 production lines. The company covers one-third of the Italian market; it mainly produces and bottles carbonated and non-carbonated drinks, diet drinks and water.
In our research, we focused on this specific company because:
It is the leader in the Italian market.
It has a large global market share.
It seeks continuous improvements.
It has an excellent record in safety and quality of the products.
The group has stringent controls throughout the supply chain: from the purchasing of raw materials to the production processes, and from the monitoring of products on sale to the development of an effective system of traceability and quality control.
To better adapt to local situations and regulatory constraints, the company has adopted an operating structure divided into three areas: (i) Europe; (iii) America; and (iv) Asia, Africa, and Australia.
With this perspective, the company believes it can accelerate its response to the needs of each market and use all its synergies more widely, reinforcing the group’s position in the global market.
The company has two main objectives. The first is to satisfy consumers taste. Quality and nutrition are an absolute must and are always motivated by the desire to create new flavors. Its work in safety, nutrition, environmental sustainability, and people’s wellbeing is far-reaching, and this pushes the company to design new business models. The second is to increase revenue while continuing to reduce the impact on the planet and promote healthy drinking habits.
The company’s processes have been re-engineered to be as energy efficient as possible while also reducing fossil fuels to a minimum.
The interview with SC Manager allows us to understand the structure of the company, which is composed of four different plants:
Plant 1 produces and bottles carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks in PET, glass, cans, Pre-Mix and Bag-in-Box.
Plant 2 produces and bottles carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks in PET, Pre-Mix, and Bag-in-Box.
Plant 3 produces and bottles carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks in PET, glass, and cans.
Plant 4 produces and bottles water in PET.
Therefore, the two primary objectives of the company with respect to packaging are:
The primary objectives of the water, which is used both in producing beverages and preparing bottles for cooling and cleaning equipment, are:
The interview conducted with the R&D Manager gave us a better understanding of the packaging components and its features. One hundred percent of the packaging produced (primary and secondary) is recyclable (glass, aluminum, cans, PET, RefPET and Tetra pack).
The design of packaging aims at reducing and recycling materials for the preservation of natural resources. The company considers packaging as one of the main objectives of its environmental management; indeed, it pays close attention both to the design of the packages, and their recyclability.
Thus, the company re-designed bottles to reduce their weight/environmental footprint as follows:
Type 1 uses 25% recycled PET.
Type 2 allows 57% saving of PET.
Type 3 is biodegradable and developed from natural resources (fibers).
Additionally, consumer participation is encouraged by:
Returnable packaging increases consumers’ environmental awareness leading to better product choices.
Post-consumer actions use bottle and can compacting machines that attract customers by monetary compensation or discounts.
Packaging is considered fundamental to the company; all operations are focused on weight reduction and recovery of packaging and glass recycling. Package recovery and recycling consists of processing, washing and re-inserting the bottles in the production line. Discarded bottles, which do not pass quality control, are sent to the ecological islands of each plant to be recycled.
With respect to the second objective, water, a system of capturing and storing rainwater has been developed, which allows the re-use of water for auxiliary services such as fire protection and sanitary services of the plants.
The company also has cleaning system that reduces energy and water consumption. It is an automatic system, which stores the last rinse water from the cleaning process and reuses it in the first rinse of the following cleaning process. This reduces the water used by 60% and also provides reductions in energy consumption, alkaline detergents and steam, lowering costs.
The company also protects reservoirs in the surrounding area, given the importance they have in facilitating water infiltration. Regarding the evaluation of water management, water levels are monitored daily and compared and adjusted according to the monthly objective. Water consumption is measured by liters of water consumed per liter of manufactured product and each plant has a different requirement as different flavors imply greater sanitation and therefore more water consumption.
shows the wastewater treatment adopted by the company. This water is generally sold to agriculture suppliers, who use it for irrigation. This is a clear example of industrial symbiosis, earning a value from waste, and at the same time increasing environmental effectiveness [63
In summary, the process of water treatment allows the company to:
reduce water by 60% in the washing processes;
capture and store rainwater for fire protection and sanitary services of the plants;
reduce energy consumption and alkaline detergents;
lower costs; and
and Table 7
summarize the best practices and KPIs adopted by the company regarding packaging and water. Regarding KPIs, the company monitors nine specific metrics in addition to the company’s own KPIs, thus controlling sustainable issues.
5.2. Case Study B
The second case study concerns a bottling company. It bottles different products such as fruit juice and carbonated drinks; however, in this case, attention was focused only on the process of bottling water. The Italian company is a leader in the water bottling industry; it has four main brands and operates all over the world.
In our research, we focus on this specific company because:
It is a leader in the water bottling process in Italy.
It pays great attention to safety and quality of the products.
It is customer orientated.
Packaging is a critical aspect of the company, representing a huge part of the waste production.
The company is focused on delivering sustainable long-term growth while leaving a positive impact on society and the environment. The goal is to re-think its product portfolio, making beverages more sustainable.
The SC Manager describes the structure of the company, which is composed of seven different plants, which are placed near wells or water springs, all over Italy. The bottling process is very important so the following steps must be followed in this order to prevent contamination:
Blowing the preform for the PET bottle
To reduce the environmental impact, the company takes issues of design, analysis and process of packaging very seriously. The main material used for packaging bottled water is PET, which is 100% recyclable. These common practices are adopted:
Light weighting reduces the package weight by using less PET; this process is done for the primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.
Design of bio-plastic bottles uses PET produced from sustainable renewable materials, in this case sugar cane.
Recycled PET is used.
Post-consumer actions are based on special events or alliances, to sensitize consumers.
It is important to clarify that the lightening process is carried out under methodical test procedures to ensure that the quality and function of the packaging are not altered in the process.
The company is a leader in the PET recycling process in Italy. PET recycling reduces consumption of raw materials, production impact and waste. Every year, the company has the possibility to reduce bottle weight on certain production lines leading to a substantial saving of resin per year.
The latest labeling process includes nutritional information to help consumers make informative choices on products.
The packing strategy is based on:
expanding the use of returnable bottles;
raw material reduction;
recycling of raw materials; and
reverse logistics and consumer education.
The recovery of bottles is one of the biggest challenges to waste management. The value chain and consumer awareness and participation are key. For non-returnable products, the strengthening of existing recovery chains in the different communities is fundamental, which leads to the development of public–private partnerships. The company is working closely with its suppliers: (i) to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources used in primary and secondary packaging; and (ii) to develop agreements with industrial scrap recyclers to improve the competitiveness of recycled resin.
In summary, the process of PET recycling allows the company to:
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19% per liter of water produced;
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% on the packaging phase; and
reduce non-renewable energies by 8%.
One of the main goals of the company is to defend water for the next generations by protecting water sources and the ecosystem. Water sustainability signifies customer wellness, water quality enhancement and environmental impact reduction. The water used to clean bottles is extracted from the sea and goes through a desalination process with no impact on the environment. In the event of a failure or excessive consumption, there is also a backup system which uses mountain water. The production plant contributes to the promotion of a culture of good use of water educating consumers to the fact that water is a scarce good. These policies linked to water sustainability are mainly viewed from the social perspective, which focuses on:
water source protection;
responsibility for water production;
enhancement of local communities;
educational activities conducted to make people aware of their responsibilities and the importance of water; and
educational activities with respect to the importance of hydration for health.
and Table 9
summaries the best practices and KPIs adopted by the company regarding packaging and water.
Regarding KPIs, the company monitors six specific metrics in addition to the company own key performance indicators with the aim to control sustainable issues.
5.3. Comparison between Literature Data Analysis and Case Studies
In this section, a comparison between the best practices and KPIs selected through the literature review and the two proposed case studies is presented. Concerning packaging, the case studies show there is a harmony between literature and real implementation. Indeed, the best practices derived from the literature review find an application in the industrial reality. Specifically, lightweight, using recycled material and design of “plant bottle” are the most employed, while the upcycling practice and adoption of more efficient technologies are not implemented. It is also important to underline that both companies adopt “post-consumer actions” such as special events or alliances to sensitize consumers. This best practice was not detected through the literature review.
With respect to water, we can notice a partial application of selected activities. While the first case study shows a good inclination to water issues, the second case study treats it with a more social perspective, mainly adopting actions for sensitizing consumers. Table 10
and Table 11
show the comparison between the two proposed case studies and the comparison with the literature with respect to best practices selection, respectively.
Finally concerning KPIs, measuring the sustainability of a process implies the identification of issues and potentials, and support the visualization of benefits from improvement measures [64
]. The development and application of sustainable indicators depend on the purpose for which they will be applied. The comparison between the literature analysis and case studies establishes that current approaches to measure, control and improve sustainability in manufacturing processes have shortcomings in addressing industrial needs in a comprehensive and suitable manner. The adoption of standardization and a clear framework industry specific can be significant enablers for supporting the measurement, control and improvement of sustainability in SDSCs. Table 12
shows that there is a partial application of the selected KPIs, particularly there is a shortage in adopting specific metrics to measure emissions, while both companies embrace metrics such as “client satisfaction”, “use of raw material”, “product quality”, “packaging quality”, “efficiency in water consumption” and “efficiency in energy consumption”.
SDSCs demonstrated support for the promotion of energy efficiency as an important driver for the industrial competitiveness, while reducing emissions to air, land and water represents a missing area. SDSCs are characterized by relatively low energy intensity compared with many other industrial sectors, where sharply rising energy prices have become a notable cost factor. Enhancing the utilization of low-carbon electricity in the SDSCs has significant potential to reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions but also air, land and water pollution created from the mining and burning of fossil fuels. Thus, we conclude that emission to water, air, and land are not directly measured but are indirectly considered in other KPIs such as efficiency in energy consumption and recycling of solid waste.