Patricia Siebel, responsible for environmental management and CR coordination refers to edding as a purpose-driven company that wants to empower people to be daring, caring and fearlessly authentic – with sustainability at the very heart of their approach.
OPI: What is edding’s core priority right now in terms of its sustainability values?
Patricia Siebel: Total customer satisfaction and the saving of resources is a main and continuous focus for us. The two combined enable us to offer only products that match demand and align with our sustainability policy. We are currently investing heavily into reshaping our admin, production and supply chain processes for a carbon neutral future. Our aim is to take our business partners and even our customers with us on this path in the coming years.
We’ve arrived at a decisive turning point towards a real sustainable mindset
OPI: How are you going to achieve your goal of becoming climate neutral by 2025?
PS: Initially, we will do this with the help of offsetting. A first step was taken in 2020 when the edding EcoLine product range was certified as climate neutral.
In order to further reduce our overall carbon footprint, we’ve initiated numerous measures at our production sites, including more energy-efficient machines or using less or different packaging materials. The remaining, inevitable CO2 emissions are at the moment offset through investment in global climate protection projects.
That said, carbon offsets cannot be a long-term solution and we want to be climate neutral as far as possible without offsetting by 2050. The principle is always: first, to avoid emissions, then to reduce and, finally, to offset them.
OPI: You mention your EcoLine. Tell me a bit more about that product range.
PS: The edding 24 EcoLine highlighter was the first and so far only marker to be awarded the Blue Angel ecolabel. Its cap and barrel, for instance, are made predominantly from renewable raw materials based on sugarcane from a certified supplier. The residual, unavoidable carbon emissions are offset through climate protection projects, specifically the reforestation of the Brazilian rainforest.
In general, it is important to acknowledge that the best way to be sustainable is to minimise the consumption of resources and materials wherever possible. Up to 90% of the plastic parts used in our permanent, whiteboard and flipchart markers are made of recycled material, most of which – 83% – being post-consumer recycled material recovered from different types of plastic waste, such as old yoghurt pots. This means a saving in new materials, enabling edding to avoid up to 83 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
OPI: Another edding initiative I recall is the ‘return box’. How is that scheme going? I believe it started in the German market.
PS: This has long been a crucial topic for a writing instruments manufacturer like edding – what to do with empty markers and writing implements? They contain valuable materials that should be recycled so just throwing them away seems unnecessary and wasteful.
The initiative is going very well. And you’re right, after a launch in Germany, the boxes can now also be used internationally. They can be ordered on the websites of our international edding branches. The filled boxes are then sent to a workshop for pre-treatment and after that are moved to a recycling company.
The return box is for any empty products regardless of the brand – single use or refillable. Together with a specialist plastics recycling expert, edding has developed an approach whereby some of the plastic recovered can be used for the production of high-quality items such as new EcoLine products, for instance.
OPI: Finally, what do you believe COVID-19 has done in terms of where sustainability is placed on the agenda currently by businesses as well as end consumers?
PS: Overall, the pandemic has increased sensitivity for health and environmental issues. We’ve arrived at a decisive turning point towards a real sustainable mindset and believe that edding can support this development with new actions, processes and products.