Last week we spoke to Mike Noldus, CEO of Akarton innovative packaging, to discuss their work and positive impact on the environment. Akarton is a European development and production company of cardboard packaging within the industrial and commercial industry. With over 30 years of experience, Akarton is a very reliable partner to ZeroPackaging.
‘As Akarton, we develop and produce for the commercial market shelf-ready packaging and in-store counter displays. Next to that, we also focus on the industrial market.’
How does the collaboration with ZeroPackaging work?
‘Together with ZeroPackaging, we did several projects during the last couple of years. ZeroPackaging designs the packaging and we produce it. For instance, our last project together was for a company which specialized in plants.’
Akarton has been in the commercial market for quite some time now. How have the last two years impacted your business?
‘There has never been this high demand for cardboard packaging since last September, the demand has skyrocketed. As a result of the increasing demand, lead time has quadrupled and raw material costs have grown a lot as well.
Next to that, in many countries the recycling process for cardboards is not in order. A lot of materials end up in the hearth. That’s really a waste, because we really need it.’
So talking about sustainability, what do you think is the most important improvement regarding reducing impact on the environment?
‘100% global recycling which also contributes to a better CO2 and reuse of materials. However, it is a really big challenge to switch all operations to recycling - but it would have a big impact.’
And is there also a role for external parties like governments or customers?
‘Yes, our customers are really progressive. Sustainability is a popular topic nowadays, so the demand for more sustainable products is increasing’.
What is according to you the biggest misconception about sustainability?
“It has become a realy hype: sustainability. For instance; “I have solar panels so I am sustainable”. That is not because of sustainability but because you save money. It is also about the things that do not immediately yield commercial gain. Next to that, it should help people to get the right mindset. Sustainability also has something to do with giving people opportunities that normally don't get the chance. We are consciously working on it for the long term. The misconception is that sustainability is sometimes too short-sighted and marketing driven:"I drive electric, so I'm sustainable"
Within your company, sustainability is an important topic. Can you explain about how you embed sustainability in Akarton?
‘It is actually our history. We have always worked with natural products. Next to that, one of our major costs is energy. If we are vigilant on energy spendage, then the costs would be too high. That’s why it’s really important for us to invest in renewable energy.
However, sustainability is more than just the environment; it is also the commitment for your employees. We give our employees workplace opportunities that they would not have gotten so easily elsewhere. We have a team of 12 nationalities and we offer everyone equal opportunities, for instance Dutch and Integration courses. Akarton offers the possibility to work here, but also to live.’
How do you stay progressive?
We strive to seize all possible new and sustainable resources, provided they are both commercial and environmentally positive for us. Then you can maintain a progressive and impactful process for the long term.
What do you think will become a trend that is going to have the most positive impact in terms of sustainability?
Electricity is a popular topic in many places now, for instance increasing charging stations. However, I expect a lot from hydrogen, that would be even more sustainable. In addition, we should also look at our staff. Sustainable use of personnel: robot technology and automating technology. This allows you to deploy your employees longer. As a result, the employee no longer has a physically demanding job, but can focus on other activities such as efficiency
Akarton is a company that works on the world of tomorrow. Taking responsibility and disseminating it is in our heart.
Through extensive energy and CO2 reduction programmes, responsible choices of raw materials such as FSC® C108057 or Next board/Next Fiber and respect for our (fellow) people, it contributes daily to a better world. Akarton also expresses this explicitly with our own internal social workplace. See www.karton.nl for more information.