New ISO environmental certifications for AFP

AFP recently attained ISO 14001 and 50001 certificates; important internationally-recognised environmental certifications. Harold Gankema, Manager Quality & Compliance, explains what this means and the role that ISO plays in AFP’s sustainability objectives.

Firstly, how it all began: AFP had already been ISO 26000-certified for a number of years. ‘That’s a more informal certificate, where you make the assessments yourself, and it’s about corporate social responsibility’, Harold explains. ‘These new ISOs are internationally recognised certificates, management systems relating to environmental and energy management, which are audited externally. These are not informal. You actually impose a higher goal on yourself.’

So two new ISOs, which are not the same, but which are closely related. ISO 14001 concerns the entire environmental management system of a company, including energy conservation. ISO 50001 only concerns energy conservation, but goes into this far more deeply than ISO 14001. ‘We chose them both, partly because the government is increasingly urging companies to have ISO 50001’, Harold says. ‘That will make it easier for government agencies to monitor us in the future.’

AFP has already taken part in the long-term agreements that the sectoral organisation contracts with the government in the field of energy conservation for many years. These agreements will probably be replaced by an energy management obligation such as ISO 50001. ‘For that reason, we wanted ISO 50001-certification anyway. And since circular thinking and recycling are also high on the AFP agenda, we also opted for ISO 14001.’

High standard

In order to qualify for these certificates, a company must have a clear vision and draw up policy for this with certain objectives. You then have to implement this, and document and monitor it properly.

External auditors visit once a year to check this. ‘This year we had that done by DNV GL, an international audit company’, Harold says. You are certified for three years at a time. After three years, your certificate is renewed.

The official audit for ISO 14001 and 50001 took place in November. ‘The auditors were here for three days, in all the departments involved. And the outcome was very positive. They were surprised that we were already at such a high level for a ‘zero measurement’. We had a few minors, smaller shortcomings, and we have to solve those with an action plan. But that’s not surprising if you’re taking part for the first time.’

Energy efficient

AFP has a clear policy in relation to energy and the environment, Harold explains. ‘We draw up an energy efficiency plan each year, to see where we can make savings on energy, for example with LED for lighting, insulation of our buildings and energy-efficiency modifications of the machines. We have also introduced an energy monitoring system which enables us to see which machines work the most energy-efficiently. And then, where possible, we plan production on the most energy-efficient machines.’

And that makes quite a difference. ‘Energy consumption per kilogram of film has fallen by 25% in the past 15 years. And in the coming three years, it will drop by another 10%.’

AFP also has clear targets in the environmental field. ‘We have sharpened our waste policy considerably’, Harold says. ‘Since then, we have disposed of 400 tons less material, which is quite considerable.’ AFP has also drawn up a plan to reduce emissions of production dust.

Another point for the environmental certification is working with bio-based raw materials for the Katan Ex line. A project for deployment of recyclates from industrial waste is now in progress. AFP already uses increasingly thin film in order to counteract overuse of plastics. ‘We are continually optimising that. We follow the “four Rs” for this: rethink, reduce, re-use and recycle.’

Targets

As Head of Compliance, Harold sets the targets within AFP and monitors these. He considers current trends very closely here. ‘At present, that very strongly determines our developments. That also has to do with the discussion on a CO2 tax, which seems to be in the pipeline. For if that happens, it could hit us hard if we are not properly prepared for it.’ The EU requires all plastics to be recyclable by 2030. ‘So we are already working on that. I think that 90% to 95% of our film is already recyclable.’

AFP has three clear targets that it is working towards:
1. In 2030, the CO2 footprint must be 90% less than in 2018. ‘97% of AFP’s CO2 footprint in the field of energy is due to electricity. So the only way to reduce that is by using renewable energy. We do already use it, but as yet, far from enough.’
2. In 2021, specific energy consumption must be reduced by 10% in comparison with 2018.
3. And in 2021, AFP aims to produce 40% less household waste.

Positive contribution

‘AFP really is on the right track with reducing its CO2 footprint’, Harold concludes. ‘We make film that makes a positive functional contribution to society, despite the negative image that plastic has. Our stretch film ensures security of transport loads, which also means less waste due to broken cargo. And our food packaging film means that food has a longer shelf life.’

This is also good news for customers: ‘In this way, we also try to help them to achieve their CO2 targets.’

So there is reason to celebrate at AFP: ‘Everyone has worked very hard for this, and it has led to a great result.’

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