28 Jan 2020
In this elproINTERVIEW, ELPRO’s Chief Quality Officer Björn discusses the importance of sustainable thinking and acting at ELPRO. He explains the challenges and opportunities he sees in the pharmaceutical and logistics industries.
Across industries, companies need to ensure efficient processes and supply chains to reduce costs and remain competitive long term. At the same time, they need to implement environmentally friendly practices to minimize ecologically harmful impacts. What is causing the most challenges for the pharmaceutical and logistics industries in this regard?
The logistics industry in particular faces a major challenge in reducing CO2 emissions. It must promote alternative means of transport such as electric vehicles or more environmentally friendly fuels. Transport routes must be optimized, and freightless transportation should be avoided.
Responsible packaging, freight handling and waste reduction are also important. Because of this, adhering to strict regulations is a must. Pharmaceutical and logistics industries produce a considerable amount of packing materials and waste. Currently, many of these are not reusable or recyclable. The challenge is to optimize packaging, develop and use more sustainable materials, and implement effective recycling programs.
In addition, these industries need to ensure their production and storage facilities are energy efficient. This can include using renewable energy, optimizing heating and cooling systems, and implementing smart technologies to monitor environmental conditions—which is where ELPRO's solutions explicitly come into play.
Overall, combining cost-effectiveness, innovation and sustainability is a complex task for the pharmaceutical and logistics industries. All stakeholders along the supply chain must collaborate to execute an economic and environmentally efficient strategy.
In conversations with customers, how do you explain ELPRO’S role in sustainability as a whole?
Across industries, customers are increasingly seeking suppliers and partners committed to sustainability, social engagement, and environmental consciousness. This involves using renewable energy, reducing waste and emissions, promoting social responsibility, and supporting local communities.
Customers repeatedly emphasize the importance of sustainability to us. We want to strengthen customer trust, meet customer requirements for sustainable solutions and, at best, create new business opportunities. For many of our customers, sustainable action is a basic requirement, which is already requested through proof of recognized certificates such as the EcoVadis certificate.
What opportunities do you and your customers see in the development of sustainable solutions for the pharmaceutical and logistics industries?
Acting sustainably has a lot of potential, both from our customers' point of view and from ours. Sustainable behavior is increasingly important for pharmaceutical companies in particular, as it can improve the image and reputation of companies in the pharmaceutical and logistics industries. Customers and consumers are increasingly interested in working with and buying from companies committed to sustainability, environmental protection and social responsibility.
In addition, sustainable solutions, sustainable thinking, and long-term sustainable planning can ultimately lead to cost savings. By reducing energy consumption, waste and emissions, companies can lower their operating costs.
Sustainability also holds great potential for innovation. Implementing sustainable solutions often requires the development and use of innovative technologies and processes. These in turn can lead to new business models and competitive advantages in existing markets by enabling companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. We, too, see this and are actively working on these opportunities.
But sustainable thinking and acting also has its advantages in terms of meeting legal requirements and regulations. The pharmaceutical and logistics industries are subject to increasingly stringent legal requirements and regulations regarding environmental protection and sustainability. Companies that proactively develop sustainable solutions at an early stage can adapt more quickly to new requirements and prevent potential penalties.
Our customers in the pharmaceutical and logistics industries are seeing that their target groups are increasingly demanding alternative sustainable offerings. Companies that can meet this demand early on have the opportunity serve new customers and strengthen existing customer relationships.
What measures does ELPRO take to make itself even more sustainable and support its customers striving for more sustainability?
For many years now, we have been recycling used equipment for raw material recovery and ensuring the raw materials are returned to the material cycle. Customers send old equipment back to us, it is melted down and raw materials are recovered. Recently, we have also started to provide data loggers with recycled components. After a thorough check-up, battery replacement, and new calibration, we return these devices to the market, saving valuable materials and energy.
We will also install a photovoltaic system on the roof of our Swiss headquarters this year. This will enable us to meet many of our energy requirements ourselves. Our building there is built and certified according to the Minergie building standard. We now have electric vehicles in our vehicle pool and consistently encourage our employees to use raw materials, water and electricity carefully. We always keep ecological aspects in focus when developing new products and solutions. For example, our multi-use data loggers can be used significantly longer thanks to replaceable batteries with improved battery life, replaceable be and state-of-the-art technology.
Looking at the topic of sustainability, what concerns you the most personally?
Unfortunately, we still live in a throw-away society. A global, social change in thinking needs to be supported by all of us. We only have this one planet, and we have an obligation to future generations to treat it with care. At ELPRO, we strive every day to do everything in our power to achieve this goal. In doing so, we rely on our suppliers, partners, customers, and all other stakeholders. Therefore, we hope that they will support us in our efforts.