Sustainability is one of the most important things today for most companies. Yet, sustainability as a concept may be understood differently by companies or people. That is why, first of all, every company, organization, institution or person should have a clear and personal definition, as Valer Hancas, Corporate Affairs & Communication Director Kaufland Romania & Moldova at Business Review’s recent Environmental & Sustainability Summit 2020.
”In the last 2 years, more and more companies adopted sustainability as a business model. The problem is that these are economic indicators impossible to detect that send us in a foggy area. But there are certain measures that we take for a sustainable model that will reduce the negative impact on society. The impact can be measured by these non-financial reporting indicators,” says Valer Hancas.
The large amounts of money and human capital needed to implement these model paid off. ”Along with Coca Cola Romania, Kaufland was named the most sustainable company in Romania, a recognition of the thing implemented,” says Valer hancas.
”Implementing some decision that can have a negative economic or financial impact on the company it is not easy. Yet, last year, we convinced the Kaufland Romania board to introduce the measure of selling food bags for a fee and get rid of all disposable bags. Prior to the measure. The consumption of bags was about 80 per month per consumer. We hoped to reduce the degree of disposable bags by 30 percent, which means tons of plastic for the entire Kaufland chain of stores in Romania. The surprise was that two months after the implementation, the degree of use of single-use bags was down by 65 percent. I believe that when we provide consumers with a method of responsible use, they quickly adhere to the idea,” says Valer Hancas.
In order to convince the masses to take responsibility, companies still have to give some incentives. But, as the concept of sustainability expands, it will be easier to understand and accept.
”In our industry there are initiatives going in the right direction. But I still identified a recycling niche. More precisely, the recycling of plastic in Romania means only PET bottles, while the rest of the plastic is thrown away. So we created recycling containers for the plastic packaging of cosmetics, liquid soaps, toothpastes, etc. We now run this program with many partners and can offer those who bring such containers different bonuses, such as a shampoo or toothpaste. Currently, we have five such recycling containers in stores in Bucharest and we want to reach 40 this year,” says Valer Hancas.
AS for general recycling, Kaufland has 50 containers in stores, to which customers can bring PET, aluminum and glass. The number of containers will increase so by the end of 2021 every Kaufland store should have one.
”The Schwarz Group, which Kaufland is a part of, has joined the United Nation Global Compact program, so the values of human rights, sustainability, labor standards and anti-corruption have become part of the DNA of the company. I have been working for the last two years to adopt these values in the company and I am proud that we have managed to become part of the group,” says Valer Hancas.
”We aim to reduce total plastic consumption by up to 25 percent by 2025 and redesign our own brand packaging. The concept of single use should disappear completely from our point of view. We have completely eliminated this concept and everything that can be reused is reused,” says Valer Hancas, explaining also that the company is proud to say 85 percent of the products sold have Romanian origin and 70 percent of the company’s revenues go to the payment of services and products from Romania.