Good for society, good for business
Magnus Groth looks back on an eventful first year as President of SCA. When he and SVP Group Sustainability Kersti Strandqvist discuss the current and future role of SCA, they both agree that long-term value can only be created if the company simultaneously creates value for its operating environment.
There are many different interpretations of what sustainability really means. What is your interpretation?
MG: If we succeed in turning social challenges into business opportunities, we will create the conditions for profitable growth. Global warming is one of the most serious problems in the world today, and SCA is committed to finding climate-change and energy-efficiency solutions. Our investment in a new biofuel plant in Nokia, Finland, is a good example of how we create value both for SCA and for society (see chapter Climate and energy). The investment is increasing operational efficiency and reducing our energy costs, while carbon emissions have fallen by 40%.
KS: Sustainability is part of our business model and an integral part of our business strategy. We must have systems and processes to integrate sustainability into the operations. We do this, for example, by including our targets for people and nature – as well as our financial targets – in our business plans. We have also introduced a procedure for reporting data for carbon emissions and health and safety at our Executive Management Team meetings, which places a new focus on these issues. Safety is always at the top of the agenda and we held our first global Safety Week this year, which was also a great success (see chapter Health and Safety).
How does SCA create value for society?
MG: The link between health and hygiene and growing prosperity is crystal clear. The United Nations, for example, claims that every dollar invested in water and sanitation has a return on investment of nine dollars from a socioeconomic perspective. Our incontinence solutions improve people’s quality of life, while freeing up time for caregivers and relatives. If people can work, or receive care at home instead of an institution, costs to society are substantially reduced.
We will revise our objectives and priorities based on even more ambitious goals than before.”
KS: Handwashing is an effective and cheap way to prevent the spread of disease. In some countries it is actually critical and we conduct regular educational handwashing initiatives. For example, SCA and Vinda implemented a program in China during the year that used the “Ella’s handwashing adventure” app to teach preschoolers and households about the importance of hand hygiene. We also teach young girls about menstruation and puberty. This helps to break the taboo around menstruation that prevents girls and women from going to school or their work in some countries.
2015 was a year with a focus on sustainability. The UN adopted 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development and, at the COP 21 climate change conference in Paris, the global community agreed to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. What does this mean for the business sector and for SCA?
MG: No government can achieve the global development goals on its own. Businesses, organizations and authorities must find new ways of working together. All 17 UN goals are relevant to SCA, but particularly those related to health, well-being, sanitation and responsible consumption and production.
KS: It is very positive that the global community could approve a climate-change agreement, but only countries, cities, business and people can reduce emissions – not an agreement. SCA has clear targets for carbon emissions, biofuel production and wind power. At the climate-change conference in Paris, SCA drew attention to the unique ability of the forest and forest products to store CO2 and how active forest management helps to limit global warming.
Business ethics is an increasingly important area. During the year, suspicions emerged that SCA had participated in cartels in Chile and Colombia. Would you like to make any comments on that?
MG: Firstly, I would like to point out that we do not tolerate any form of illegal price fixing. In reference to these particular cases, we are cooperating with the authorities and providing all of the requested information. We have worked, and continue to work, intensively to minimize risks of unethical behavior in our operations and during the year, we worked hard with anti-trust training.
KS: We have committed to supporting the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, which also entails a major responsibility. We have also taken further steps in our work related to supplier assessments by delving deeper into the supply chain.
The number of people who have to share the earth’s resources is increasing.”
Any thoughts about 2016?
KS: The number of people who have to share the earth’s resources is increasing, which is why the EU’s proposed action plan for a circular economy is welcome. SCA works continuously to improve resource efficiency, with programs such as ESAVE (see chapter Value creation for nature – Climate and energy) and life cycle assessments, but we must be even better at identifying waste solutions, particularly for post-consumer waste.
MG: We will continue to develop innovative solutions that make life easier for as many people as possible, and where the new product is better than its predecessor in terms of sustainability and functionality. We achieved our targets for health and safety as well as those we set for water, and we reduced our carbon emissions by 17.4%. We have developed new targets for health and safety, water usage and fiber sourcing and, during 2016, we will revise our objectives and priorities and raise our ambitions ever further.