Hitting the paper trail at SCASeptember 2014
Kersti Strandqvist is the senior vice president at SCA, the global hygiene and forest products company, in charge of Group Function Sustainability. She leads the company’s corporate sustainability team and is a member of the SCA corporate senior management team. Kersti talks to Ethical Performance about her responsibility for the group’s sustainability strategy and the integration of targets for environmental, social and public affairs. She has been with SCA since 1997, previously holding leadership positions in both the global feminine and baby care business.
What does sustainability mean to you?
For me, sustainability means that we can all live well and within the planet’s natural boundaries; including people in both established and emerging markets, not just now, but also in years to come. It means we have to find new and creative ways for the development of mankind, without depleting the Earth’s resources. From SCA’s perspective, it means creating value for people and nature. We create value for our company but also for our stakeholders – from customers and consumers to employees, investors and society. With our incontinence products, consumers can continue to lead an active life even if they have a leakage issue. When buying our solutions, our corporate customers are encouraged to achieve their own sustainability targets and they can feel assured they are commercially involved with a robust supplier who treats its employees fairly. As Europe’s largest private forest owner, our sustainably managed forests absorb 2.6 million tons of CO2 annually.
How did you get interested in the field?
Social and environmental issues have always been close to my heart and throughout my career I have found it rewarding and interesting to seek new solutions and concepts on how to create value, not only in terms of profit and growth, but also for society, people and the environment. In my opinion, this is a positive way to make a difference. For SCA, both social and environmental concerns have always been part of our business model. In the last five years we have taken steps to reinforce this approach by placing emphasis on innovation and focus on delivering growth and profitability while creating value for people, our society and nature. This approach gives us a competitive edge, allows cost-efficiency, minimises risk and raises the level of attraction as a company for existing employees and new recruits as well as customers and investors.
What are the most interesting innovations in sustainability that we’re seeing at SCA right now?
In 2013 we launched TENA Identifi, a sensor product in elderly care that registers an individual’s urination patterns. This gives caregivers entirely new opportunities to optimize care, both from a qualitative and financial perspective. The individual gets the right product at the right time which enables a more dignified existence and more time for care, not just treatment.
We continuously work with Life Cycle Assessments to minimize the environmental impact from our products. During the 2008-2013 period, for example, we have reduced the carbon footprint in our Libero open diapers by 24%.
SCA Energy, is a business division entirely dedicated to renewable energy. It includes wind farms on our forest land and extracting biofuels from felling residue such as branches, crowns and stumps.
Thanks to innovative solutions, SCA converts by-products into valuable energy. Our tissue mill in Ortmann, Austria is one example where we produce biogas based on wastewater.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re faced with?
The biggest challenge, and opportunity, is to continue to develop innovative technologies, products and services that minimize resource utilisation and help improve hygiene standards in emerging markets.
What are some of your short-term goals?
In total we have 13 People and Nature targets. We have three targets related to combatting climate change; we will reduce our CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 (2005 as reference year); we will triple our production of biofuels from our forests (2010 as reference year); and our wind power production will reach 5 TWh. Employee health and safety is a major priority and we will decrease our accident frequency rate by 25 per cent between 2011-2016. There has been an increased focus on supply-chain management the last couple of years and we will use our SCA Supplier Standard in all our supply chain contracts by 2015.
And long term?
We have set up a number of People and Nature ambitions which describe our long-term views on what kind of company we want to be. We want to improve hygiene standards worldwide and support women empowerment across the world by giving them access to education about hygiene solutions. We aim to combat climate change, minimize our impact on the environment and care for the forests.
Does sustainability ever feel unachievable?
No it doesn’t, although there is always a better way do things and we can be proud of the steps we take to improve every day. Being able to help people live a healthy and dignified life, and helping society is very rewarding. We need to recognize that there is no “perfect world”, and that we will never be finished, but as long as we are moving in the right direction we should be satisfied.
What sustainability statistics at SCA are you most proud of?
We have many achievements, such as reduced accident frequency rate, delivery on reduced CO2 emissions and water usage targets and our sustainable forest management practises. However, I am most proud of being able to break taboos on incontinence and menstrual hygiene with education and through our products and services. This combination of work and innovations truly make a difference in people’s lives!
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