We share our knowledge and stories, always with the support of a marketing communications consultant from Circa Twee, our communications agency. For the past six months, this has been Janneke Buitenhuis. Five questions, five answers.
Corporate social responsibility: measure and keep improving
Commitment to corporate social responsibility is strong at Vetipak. The reason? As a family business we always look firmly towards the future. And a growing number of clients are – rightfully – demanding it from us. We are therefore pleased that both SEDEX and EcoVadis give our policy a positive rating. Our QESH Manager Monique Donkers comments on this achievement.
Vetipak has been measuring its sustainability performance for years. For one, we are a member of SEDEX, a global organization dedicated to driving improvements in responsible and ethical business practices.
Monique explains what this involves: “Once every three years, we are audited for continued compliance with the SEDEX standard through a SMETA audit (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit). We first received our Letter of Conformity from SEDEX many years ago, and have had it renewed every time. One advantage of that system is that their audits are conducted right onsite, which always turns out to be a very educational experience.”
EcoVadis is another sustainability rating platform, one that has been growing rapidly in recent years. They assess businesses based on a total of 21 sustainability criteria, which are subdivided into four areas:
- Labor and Human Rights
- Sustainable Procurement
Monique: “Both these systems can exist alongside each other and even complement one another. Although it would of course be great if, down the line, only one system were to be used worldwide. That would make things more clear and more efficient in terms of organization.”
Having found that a growing number of our clients had been asking us about our EcoVadis rating of late, we decided to take up the challenge. But the requirements for EcoVadis Silver are not easily met. “We had to answer literally hundreds of questions and collect a lot of ‘evidence’ for our assessors. It involved a ton of work. But it was all worth it in the end, as the results speak for themselves. We have been awarded this predicate twice, by the way: for our Confectionary location in Veghel and our Personal Care location in Oss.”
“There’s a whole slew of questions you need to answer”
Monique is pleased with the silver ratings and sees the positive SMETA and EcoVadis ratings as a confirmation of Vetipak’s achievements in terms of corporate sustainability in recent years: “We place a premium on workplace health and safety, but at the same time we also remain firmly focused on our core business: developing and manufacturing sustainable packaging and everything that involves, including logistics.”
She continues: “Take environmentally friendly packaging. You could, for example, decide to use less packaging – by reducing the size of a bag, say – but you could also consider using a thinner material or an alternative option, which could mean substituting paper for plastic. Other options include improving the recyclability of the foils you use or changing the sizes of boxes in such a way that you can fit more of them onto a pallet, which reduces your transportation footprint. We are always looking for these types of solutions, together with our employees, suppliers, and clients. And I can say that approach has paid off many times over.”
Plenty to improve
The QESH Manager continues: “Having said all that, there’s always room for improvement. We’re always looking for new ways to make our products more sustainable, preferably through effective metrics. How energy-efficient will a measure be? How can we quantify this? And how do you use documents to prove that these measures make your work more sustainable or more responsible? That’s what it’s essentially all about.”
Monique, concluding: “And that also happens to be exactly what the EcoVadis system assesses. That’s why we’re very pleased with our positive ratings: they’re a great incentive for us because they tell us we’re on the right track. But we’ve still got some way to go: as a QESH Manager, I feel our job is never done when it comes to sustainable business. We’re always evolving, and that’s what makes this such a great field to be in!”
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