The Life Of A Banknote

The Life Of A Banknote: Sustainable management, assuming responsibility

More sustainability in banknote production – with „The Life of a Banknote“ Louisenthal is launching its first sustainability campaign – and one that is unique in the industry to date. At the same time, it shows that sustainability and business don’t contradict each other, but could be a win-win situation for everyone.


Sales Louisenthal

The awareness for a sustainable, environmentally respectful way of acting and managing resources is constantly increasing – certainly also because the fundamental priniciple of sustainability initially seems as simple as it is obvious: to use a resource in a way that it does not suffer a permanent damage and remains available to future generations. Thus sustainability becomes the direct counterpart of a ruthless exploitation of a resource and therefore requires a moderate behavior, a self-reflection and self-discipline.

Which also means that sustainability cannot be a sure-fire success, on the contrary. In particular corporate sustainability requires an honest inventory of what is.

Which sounds easier than it is, because where to start if you want to be more sustainable? As an answer, Papierfabrik Louisenthal GmbH will be launching its first sustainability campaign, which is unique in the industry to date, at the Currency Technology Symposium in mid-July 2019. Under the motto „The Life of a Banknote“, an exhibition will show, among other things, where sustainability already plays a role today – and which steps are planned and have to be taken to make the life cycle of a banknote more sustainable, using the entire value chain of banknote substrate and foils.


Does money have to be organic?

Louisenthal has therefore analysed its entire value chain and subjected it to an honest review: What is going well? What is even better? It has been shown that there are a number of factors that can be taken into account for sustainable banknotes: green energy, fairtrade-cotton, reusable packaging or sensible recycling.

How clean should our money be? Does money need a new morality? Does money have to be organic? „With these core questions, we are pursuing a communication strategy that is as challenging as it is transparent in order to discuss the topic of „sustainability in foil- and paper production“ honestly and at eye level,“ says Clemens Berger, Chairman of the Management Board of Louisenthal.

However, it is also clear that the campaign can actively and practically support the sustainability goals of central banks and banknote printers beyond the mere discussion: “The more sustainably a banknote is produced, the more positively a central bank can position itself vis-à-vis the population when issuing a single note or an entire series”, Berger continues.

By opening up new customer groups, maintaining the brand and at best strengthening one’s very own reputation sustainability becomes more than just a buzzword. „Many companies have recognized that when they focus specifically on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, their products, processes and business models are seen in a new light,“ says Stefan Schaltegger, Professor of Sustainability Management at Leuphana University Lüneburg.


Sustainabilty and success go hand-in-hand

The Louisenthal campaign, both in the exhibition and in the sustainability journal published on the occasion, presents a large number of positive examples, but also deliberately addresses potential for improvement and what is economically feasible: By using hydropower and combined heat and power generation the Louisenthal site at Tegernsee produces a significant proportion of homemade electricity, namely 10 gigawatt hours per year. This covers approximately 25% of the yearly consumption, which corresponds to the needs of 16,000 single-family homes. The use of the company’s own wastewater treatment plant helped Louisenthal to reduce the water consumption by 40% compared to 2010.

„This is not being done with the intent of greenwashing, but instead to demonstrate impressive stories along the entire value creation chain,“ continues Berger. „It requires courage, but it also emphasizes and enhances the credibility and sovereignty of the Louisenthal brand.“ And it needs an awareness that sustainability and business are not opposites.


Ambitious and feasible

This is ambitious, not always easy, but feasible. Especially when Louisenthal works in concert with its customers who consciously demand more „green banknotes“. In concrete terms, this could mean: Why not specifically include the goal of sustainability in public tenders?

After all, the more weight the issue is given to, the faster the idea of a completely „green banknote“ becomes reality and literally „valuable“: New values are created that increase the attractiveness of the banknote and finally of the manufacturing companies, that motivate and can become the driving force for employees and customers alike – right up to the question of why companies should not also make a contribution beyond their core business out of their social responsibility? „Because if you want to shape market conditions today, you can no longer rely solely on the responsibility of others – you have to assume responsibility yourself,“ says Louisenthal Chairman of the Management Board Clemens Berger.