Small Talk: Matters of importance

The heads of two very different alliances were recent guests on OPI Talk – Interaction’s Jan Van Belleghem and Sam Moncada from COPA. Their priorities are different, but their focus is similarly sharp.

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The evolution of Q-Connect…

Jan Van Belleghem: After 25 years, we felt the need to clarify the brand values of Q-Connect. We embarked on a brand identity exercise and it became clear that sustainability was one of the elements needing more focus. It was also very much on the agenda of our board.

Some of our members – such as EVO, Wulff and PBS Holding – had acquired businesses from Staples Solutions which served large customers with sustainability written into their general purchasing policies. Therefore, it was important to position Q-Connect as an environmentally sound brand. 

However, all members are aware that this is a train everybody needs to catch – you don’t want to be left on the platform – and there’s broad support for sustainable initiatives.

Q-Conscious explained…

Q-Conscious is our journey towards sustainability. It means being conscious of the people who make our products and the planet we live on – social and environmental aspects as well as the products themselves are the three pillars at the core of our CSR Charter.

Using a team of experts from within our member organisations, we have defined several criteria. These include having a recognised environmental label, using recycled or biodegradable materials, and eliminating plastic packaging. For a product to be part of the Q-Conscious family, it must meet at least one of these criteria.

Q-Conscious is our journey towards sustainability

Progress so far…

Last year, around 600 of more than 3,500 Q-Connect products fell into the Q-Conscious portfolio. This will rise to 700-800 by the end of 2023. We realise not every SKU can be turned into a Q-Conscious item, so our ambition is to reach 80% of the range by 2027. 

Return-to-the-office in Canada…

Sam Moncada: It has been a challenge for employers to get their staff back to work. There is one company that comes to mind which mandated everyone to return to the office full time, with no flexibility. This was not well received, resulting in people leaving and even in legal issues.

My perception is that, in the next 12 months, you will see most organisations offering employees a hybrid environment. They will have no choice.

Beyond ‘office products’…

A few years ago, the Canadian Office Products Association (COPA) began managing the Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association due to its synergies with OP – think vendors such as 3M or Newell Rubbermaid. We’ve since transitioned to the Canadian Home Products Trade Association, partly to appeal to a wider membership. 

COPA is on the verge [of something similar]. Our new learning platform – the Home and Office Products campus – gives a clue as to where we’re headed.