Investors and other stakeholders are showing more and more interest towards corporate responsibility in all areas of business. It has become a known fact that responsible operations are a requirement for profitable business.
Nevertheless, the level of commitment to sustainability is higher in some areas of business and in some companies than in others. Klaus Barduna, Responsibility Senior Vice President at Stora Enso Paper, believes that the paper industry is a forerunner in responsible business.
"Sustainable thinking is in the nature of forest industry. At Stora Enso, we are committed to sustainable forestry. Our most important raw material, wood, is renewable, our operations are using an extraordinarily high share of biomass energy, and our products can be recycled many times over or ultimately burned for biomass energy," Barduna explains.
A close watch on development
Barduna has worked for Stora Enso for 14 years so he has had a front-row seat to the development of the forest and paper industry. Before that, he worked as a management consultant and as an auditor for environmental, health and safety and quality issues.
"I was already familiar with the sustainability standards when I started at Stora Enso, but I keep learning all the time. Part of my job, for instance, is to closely follow new legislation and regulations being set by the European Commission as well as at the national and local level."
Apart from supporting the paper mills of the Paper division, Barduna and his team are responsible for providing sustainability information to customers and other stakeholders.
"Our customers' interest in sustainability issues and the origin of paper is increasing. They are not only asking for sustainability information more frequently, but also for more details," Barduna says.
This reflects a growing concern towards and an awareness of environmental and social issues. High expectations are levied on global companies like Stora Enso; these companies are not only expected to follow the rules, but to go beyond, to listen, to learn, and to continuously improve.
Exceeding the requirements
Notwithstanding the proven sustainability track record at Stora Enso and other companies, Barduna feels that the public image of the forest industry and paper as a product is not as good as it should be.
"The younger generation in particular seems to have the wrong perception of the environmental impact of the paper industry. I see this as a challenge for the whole industry. We must become even better in communicating our sustainability-related credentials and achievements, be it with raw material sourcing, energy efficiency, water utilisation, waste management or other environmental issues around our operations."