Mr. Kümmerle, is there nothing more important than sustainability in times of crises and upheaval?
No, especially in times of crises, both coming and going, we must not lose sight of the permanent dangers of the world and must counteract them sustainably. Certainly, at present many companies deal with a multitude of global challenges and they do that by putting the urgent before the important. But I am convinced that it will remain the topic of the decade and with it its core questions: does sustainability really matters to companies? What is the business-related, strategic rationale?
And the answers are?
That the overall system that's bigger than us gives feedback: there's that “great equalizer", the earth, raising more and more awareness for sustainability. Indeed, a major part of ESG growth has been driven by the environmental component of ESG and responses to climate change. But other components of ESG, in particular the social dimension, have also been gaining prominence. I think it's relevant to everyone now, so it calls for clear standards and benchmarks.
What exactly are the most meaningful criteria for sustainability?
First and foremost: actions! Corporate actions have significant consequences for people who are not directly involved with the company. Externalities such as a company's greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on labor markets, and the consequences for the health and safety of suppliers are becoming an ever-greater challenge in our interconnected world. So, externalities are on the rise. This pressure is also a sign of social responsibility – so it is only logical that it increases the more urgent the external effects become.
Bernd Kümmerle, Managing Director of the Banknote Solutions division at G+D Currency Technology
»No company alone can save the planet«
Which are also reflected within a company?
Of course. Especially within a company! The ‘how’ of a company’s environmental, social, and governance proposition starts with recognizing what companies should be solving for: maintaining and reinforcing their social license to operate, in the face of rising externalities. But this task is so big that no company can do it alone. No company alone can save the planet.
So where to start?
For us at G+D, given the worsening climate crisis seen in recent years, climate protection – i.e. our contribution to limiting global warming – is one of the most important goals of our sustainability strategy. We achieved our previous climate goal, which had a deadline of 2022, ahead of schedule in 2020. In addition, 85 percent of electricity purchased across the group will come from renewable sources by 2030. And at Louisenthal and Königstein – our two large banknote paper mills in Germany, which use considerable amounts of water – we already treat 40 and 58 percent of the water, respectively, and feed it back into circulation. See: we're setting our targets, we have our sustainability agenda, and we've raised the issue of sustainability to the strategic level.
A strategy that is also supported by customers?
More and more, yes. In our industry, we are leading the way with our sustainability goals and with the way we promote them – see our Green Banknote Initiative, for example. And we don't encounter any resistance from our customers with this approach, quite the opposite. We continue to see extremely high potential because our strong commitment to sustainability is not limited to our business activities.
»We always ask ourselves:
What do we contribute to the society that no one else can?«
This means: cooperation is key?
Indeed, we also work closely with our suppliers to help them achieve higher ESG standards. As a global leader in security solutions for the payments, connectivity, identity, and digital infrastructure markets, we have great opportunities to help customer companies achieve their own climate goals. We can even show our customers new perspectives or prepare them for something that is just being added as a requirement.
What does that mean specifically?
That a robust approach is more critical than ever, therefore we take a holistic view of sustainability across the entire cash cycle and invite our customers and partners to join us in looking in this direction.
Our Green Banknote Initiative with our Green Banknote, for example. With the Green Banknote, we are contributing to greater environmental protection and sustainability. This meets the demand for less plastic and supports our customers and partners on their way to green banking. At the same time, we are always asking ourselves questions such as: What do we contribute to society that no one else can? What are the areas of dissonance, where we need to change practices to align strategy with our societal impact? What do we do that is irreplaceable?
And what is it that’s irreplaceable?
That no one can tackle the issue of sustainability alone. Sure, investing in green technologies is something each company can do on its own. But to achieve our goals of a greener cash cycle, we must work hand in hand. We support our customers and partners with all our knowledge and skills on their way to green banking. We are constantly evolving and always ready to share our expertise with you.
Because we know the path that needs to be taken and we have proven the feasibility. Of course, operationalizing ESG is much easier for companies when there is a clearly articulated corporate purpose. One that is anchored with the business model. For our industry this means that we as well as our customers can achieve a win-win situation, when we take a holistic approach, acting like forward-looking companies that actively engage with each other. We want to walk this path together and further with our customers, our suppliers, and our partners in the industry. Because it is a viable and conceivable way to make our industry greener overall.
The Green Banknote Initiative
As a leading company in the industry, we take sustainability seriously. Based on a study that took a close look at banknote substrates, we have broadened our focus on the subject of sustainable banknotes.