by Andrew Coulsen, CEO
The extreme weather events around the world throughout 2022 have been a stark reminder of the impact of climate change and the urgent need for us to act fast for the future of our planet.
As a business leader I take seriously my responsibility to drive positive change within Spandex. Since I joined the organisation in 2021, I’ve been working closely with the leadership team and our Head of Sustainability to explore the positive steps we can take, and to set out a clear roadmap.
When we rebranded in May 2022, one of the sentiments behind the concentric circles in our new logo was our aspiration towards a circular economy. By that, we mean looking for ways to reuse and recycle the materials we make and distribute. We also have a firm commitment to sourcing and developing environmentally responsible products and solutions that will help our customers to build more sustainable businesses.
To inform our stakeholders – and also to hold ourselves accountable – we’ve added a sustainability section to our website. I invite you to visit, to read about our five-point sustainability strategy and discover some examples of the progress we’ve made already.
This is not a straightforward journey for any business, but it’s an essential one. In Spandex’s case, we acknowledge that many of our materials are made of plastic, so we’re well aware of our environmental impact. The flipside is that our products can deliver sustainability benefits for customers. Decorative films can play a role in minimising use of raw materials in architecture and interior décor, while functional materials such as sun protection window films can help customers to reduce energy consumption. The arguments are rarely black and white.
We also distribute a broad range of third-party products as well as our own, so our path towards sustainability is closely tied to those of the brands whose material and equipment we sell. We applaud our partners for their own efforts: many are making great progress in this area.
In the case of our own products, we consider sustainability in design and development, for example using recycled PET in some of our textile products. And with full control over the raw materials we use, we can buy locally or regionally where possible.
Launching ImagePerfect EverGreen
This year has been a hugely exciting landmark in our environmental progress, as we launched ImagePerfect EverGreen (to be released 2023 in Australia), our own range of print and signage films that are 100% PVC free and use a water-based, solvent free adhesive.
Created and produced by Eikon, the product development and manufacturing arm of the Spandex Group, IP EverGreen offers visual communications businesses an appealing alternative to PVC, with a holistic approach to environmental responsibility from the lining paper to the adhesive to the product packaging.
As I commented when I returned from FESPA 2022, we know that our visual communications customers are actively looking for solutions that can truly help them and their clients make more environmentally responsible choices, and we want to be ready to support them.
Now, ImagePerfect EverGreen is available to customers worldwide through the Spandex distribution network, and it’s priced competitively with conventional PVC-based alternatives, so signmakers and graphics producers can make this positive choice without being drawn into a discussion about cost.
Aside from this major product innovation, we’re made some really positive strides in our operations too. 47% of the electricity used by our businesses is from renewable energy sources, and our investment plan makes provision for installing solar panels at some of our facilities, which will decrease our reliance on fossil fuels even further.
In Switzerland, where we are headquartered, we’re offsetting the carbon used by our delivery companies, and where our logistics are concerned, we intend to go a lot further. In the UK, where our own manufacturing facility is located, we consciously minimise deliveries between the factory and our warehouse to reduce our carbon footprint.
We’re also actively analysing our Scope 1-3 greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water usage, which will enable us to set a baseline and identify where we can improve.
Individual actions, collective commitment
Ultimately, sustainability is not about numbers and targets – it’s about people. The first pillar in our sustainability strategy acknowledges that our employees are our biggest asset, and it enshrines their health and welfare as a key business priority.
Equally, with considered investment in training and strong leadership by example, all our people can be agents of change, by making small everyday adjustments at home and in the workplace and calling it out when they see a better way of doing things.
Our progress toward environmental responsibility won’t be made with statements and policies, but with the positive actions of every individual in our business.
Author – Andrew Coulsen
Andrew Coulsen is the CEO of Spandex Group, one of the world’s leading suppliers of materials, sign systems, displays and equipment to the sign making, graphics, architectural and vehicle wrapping markets.