In conversation, Oliver Grüters (Managing Director and Head of BA Boxon Bulk) gives gives an in-depth insight into the philosophy and strategy of the company.
How did Boxon become active in climate protection?
At Boxon the climate protection idea came from our general understanding of corporate responsibility. For example, as long as 30 years ago we started to implement international standards for employees based on the ILO (International Labour Organisation) Conventions, as well as local environmental targets, in our Asian production plants. This was not requested by customers at the time, but was based on our own understanding of responsible business management. For the same reason, Boxon is actively engaged in the Corporate Responsibility Initiative of the UN Global Compact and committed to the ten principles.
We also consider the environmental sustainability of our products: More products are now being sent to private households or around the world as industrial shipments than ever before. The amount of packaging material required is increasing and with it the global challenge to protect resources and to reduce emissions.
While plastic packaging makes a large contribution to product protection and in Europe also to recycling revenue from packaging, it is under pressure from the public around the world; for example, we are all familiar with the pictures of plastic waste in the oceans. The global impact of the beginnings of climate change is already being felt. As a responsible company we want to create opportunities to keep the impact our products have on the environment as low as possible.
Why does Boxon GmbH want to position itself as a climate protection pioneer in the industry?
We have a long history in the packaging sector. Boxon has experienced many changes in the market and in 1965, for example, became the first Swedish company to include corrugated cardboard in its portfolio, a complete world first on the European market at the time. With tailored products for the automotive sector, intelligent traceability and labelling systems, the integration of augmented reality and Industry 4.0, we are continuing to focus on progress and innovation. In 2018 this particularly means in the packaging sector, but also progress through sustainability.
Due to the key role that packaging plays in virtually every value-added chain, we consider ourselves to be particularly responsible for promoting the topic of sustainability and creating our own innovative solutions. This is a consequence of our promise: "Adding value beyond the box".
What makes your products particularly climate friendly?
FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) or Big Bags are made of homogeneous polypropylene. This is a plastic which is very easy to recycle.
Through technological development, we also have the opportunity to use significantly less raw material now than we did just a few years ago, due to weight reduction. The Big Bag currently makes up on average around 0.1% of the total weight of our customers' products and is therefore far superior to other packaging. There are also optimised production processes and solar energy is used in manufacturing.
In addition, we design Big Bags as reusable packaging according to customer needs and help our customers to implement recycling systems. At the end of the life cycle, efficient collection and recycling processes ensure that our Big Bags can be recycled efficiently as homogeneous packaging.
However we know that a certain amount of greenhouse gas is produced in the manufacture of this and other types of packaging, which we cannot avoid, despite optimisation processes. For this reason we have decided to work with myclimate: The partnership enables us to offset the remaining emissions. This means the Big Bags are climate neutral and at the end of their life cycle, if they are fed into recycling systems, they leave a considerably reduced ecological footprint.
What will Big Bags be like in the future (in 10, 20, 30 years)? What role will your company play?
For us, the trend in the packaging of the future is primarily moving in the direction of additional functions, beyond purely protecting the product.
In addition to purely protecting the product, the packaging of the future will perform many other functions, while getting smarter: More than ever, it will store and provide variable information, enable traceability and digital location, display indicators for influences such as heat or spoiled content, and make digital content and augmented reality available. The possibilities are almost endless.
At the same time, there is a growing expectation for packaging to be sustainable and resource-saving. As a leading provider, we are testing the use of alternative raw materials, from bioplastics to renewable or recycled materials, as well as further optimisation within our company and those of our customers.
What vision do you have when you think of the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030? What opportunities do you have as a company to contribute to the goals?
Every company has a duty to shoulder its responsibilities for the impact of industrial production and global transport. For us as a company with production locations distributed throughout Europe and Asia, this means focusing on climate protection when it comes to our product itself. However, it also means putting people first and ensuring that global standards are implemented, in the field of human rights and business ethics, for instance. We achieve this through strict audit procedures conducted by neutral and certified companies, for example.
Why is myclimate a trustworthy partner for you?
We deliberately chose myclimate. What really counts is that, with myclimate, we are bringing an independent partner on board which conveys the necessary integrity that we also want to communicate to our customers. The information provided holds water and is not just superficial. With myclimate, it is about more than impressive images. We have also gained a partner that can be consulted about many issues and develops new concepts that go beyond the actual project.
We support the "Solar Energy for Education & Jobs in Tanzania" project because it has so many positive effects, solely by replacing fossil fuels with solar energy.
In this way, we can offset CO₂ from our production process and offer climate-neutral products, while at the same time supporting a project that creates immediate social and economic benefits for the local population. It could hardly be any more sustainable.
We already have plans with myclimate for the coming year that go beyond offsetting the PCF. For example, the topics of further training and raising awareness will play an important role for us. Ideally, we will create a dialogue between all involved, which goes far beyond the project management and raises the awareness of employees, stakeholders and business partners of the role of sustainability in the packaging sector.