Grete Justesen from Environment Forum Fyn handing over the diploma to Claus Skotte Lange, Production Coordinator, Eldan Recycling.
[Article from ScrapBook Autumn 2011]
Decisions on targeted environmental measures often also result in increased operating and fixed expenses. Many companies therefore reject such ideas, believing that larger companies are only doing this to better their own image. However, environmental thinking in a company doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Eldan Recycling has found that environmental awareness not only improves a company’s reputation, but can also save the company money…
People, planet, profit
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a way of integrating social and environmental concerns into business activities. The goal is to take responsibility for the company’s actions, and to encourage a positive influence through its activities on e.g. the environment or the community. CSR strategies or intentions are often stated in the company’s business plan and in press releases, to improve the company’s reputation. The reasoning behind involvement in CSR is to maximise the returns on the three pillars: people, planet and profit.
For a company adopting environmental measures, this usually means incurring greater expenses, for example when switching from regular paper to recycled paper. Because of this, many smaller companies consider these targeted environmental measures to be unnecessarily expensive activities, useful only to larger companies.
Environmental work as part of production
At Eldan Recycling, environmental thinking is part of the daily routine of employees and management. Not only due to the fact that the company’s main business is producing recycling equipment, but also because there is a major focus on paying close attention to material flows within the company. Eldan has no environmental department or specialist employed, yet has still received a diploma for four environmental statements, and is working on a fifth statement this autumn. Environmental statements mean that the company map the consumption of materials, as well as their flow, in the production. Basically, the aim is to track what enters the facility and what leaves it, this in regard to e.g. electricity, gas, water and hazardous substances. “As a company in the recycling industry, we’d really like to make a targeted effort for the environment and not just focus on our own production - this way we’re closing the environmental circle. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reduce our CO2 impact on the environment, and the fact that we also saved some money in the process was a really nice surprise for us, and of course it makes the project even more satisfying” says Claus Skotte Lange, Production Coordinator at Eldan.
Although Eldan employs almost 100 people, the company organisation is too slim to maintain a whole department focusing solely on environmental management. At Eldan this is instead done by Claus, who is responsible for getting everyone in the company to consider the environment in their work. “Instead of having a formal department and employees working solely on this, we’ve integrated environmental consciousness into our production. Just by making fairly small changes in work routines we’ve already seen considerable overall results” says Claus.
Small changes and investments result in big savings
One of the changes Eldan has made is turning off the ventilation system at times when there is no production, or when there is no one in the factory. “Being a manufacturing company we need a lot of ventilators, compressors and lighting to ensure a good working environment for employees. We came to realise however, that the ventilation system providing fresh air was always on, even when production was not running, and when there was no one in the buildings. At the moment we only run the ventilation system when it’s needed” says Claus. “Most of our investments and changes might seem small. The investments we’ve made will pay for themselves within 18 months, which makes them easy to implement. We’re also using systematic surveillance of the gas furnace, which has lowered the Co2 emission by 17 % for heating (28 tons). By using an intelligent control system with motion sensors that turn off the lights in rooms that are not being used, we save about 30% Co2 emission for light (27 tons).”
Environment Forum Fyn
Environment Forum Fyn is a private-public network that aims to promote sustainable development. The stated wish of the network is to strengthen the competitiveness of Fyn companies through their environmental and corporate social responsibility efforts.
The municipalities of Fyn and the member companies run this network jointly. The municipalities support the network financially, and by engaging in dialogue with the companies about their environmental efforts. Member companies share experiences gained from participation in groups, workshops and courses. The network is driven by its members, and there is a commitment to continuously work on improving and documenting efforts, which results in an annual environmental statement.
Eldan has been part of the network since 2000, and Claus is a board member of Environment Forum Fyn (Industry). He believes that membership has been a turning point for the company; “We are specialists in manufacturing recycling equipment – we’re not general environmental specialists. The knowledge we’ve gained and are still gaining from network members in Environmental Forum Fyn is invaluable. This knowledge has led to us lowering our consumption of a wide range of materials and commodities. Above all, we’ve gained an increased awareness for environmental thinking.”
Competitive international advantage
As the absolute majority (about 99%) of Eldan’s customers are located abroad, the name “Environmental Forum Fyn” is unknown to them. However, the environmental report and certificates have already increased the company’s reputation internationally. “Many of our customers are very environmentally aware, and they often ask me about our environmental policy. They’re very impressed when I tell them about the network and the fact that environmental thinking is a part of daily routine at all levels of the company” comments Claus. “There are both environmental and financial reasons why we’re members of Environmental Forum Fyn, but it’s worth every penny and every hour.”