On the way to a circular economy: The ‘Sustainability Report 2022’ by LEONHARD KURZ
Fuerth/Germany, June 14, 2023: LEONHARD KURZ, a global leader in thin-film- and finishing technology, recently published its Sustainability Report 2022 and is thus underlining that responsible corporate governance is one of the most important goals. On more than 100 pages, KURZ shows what matters to the company in the value chain, labor and human rights, and environmental protection, among other areas.
KURZ joined the UN Global Compact Network as early as 2021, reaching another important milestone in its sustainability activities. The Group is now following up with the publication of the ‘Sustainability Report 2022’. CEO Dr. Andreas Hirschfelder is pleased with the goals the company has achieved in recent months and points out that the path will be consistently continued: “The willingness to change ensures that we remain a pioneer in the industry in terms of innovation and sustainability. Since our founding more than 120 years ago, we have continuously provided new answers to exciting questions about the future and will not stop constantly questioning the status quo. We are at the beginning of this evolution.”
The KURZ motto ‘Be a green leader’
The claim ‘Be a green leader’ summarizes all company activities leading to more sustainability. On the one hand, this message has an internal impact and makes clear to employees the importance of responsible business practices for humans and the environment. On the other hand, it is an offer to all KURZ customers. Dr. Andreas Hirschfelder: “We are working hard to become the most sustainable company in our industry. However, product innovations and our constant push towards a circular economy not only help us but also give our customers a sustainable lead.”
The thin-film specialist is already on the way to achieving this goal: The Sustainability Report 2022, for example, sets out central requirements and environmental directives – including those relating to selecting raw materials and handling. All KURZ sites worldwide are bound to comply with these guidelines. Environmental management systems ensure that standards are always met and continuous improvements are guaranteed. As far as technically possible, efficient use of all raw materials as well as PET carrier materials with recycled content is mandatory. While around 30 percent of the raw materials used in KURZ decorations are currently of organic origin, the company is working on increasing this figure to as much as 80 percent.
To ensure that KURZ, together with its partners and customers, achieves its ambitious sustainability goals in the long term, this year’s sustainability report also formulates short-term goals intended to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Among other things, expanding the company’s own photovoltaic systems, using the latest and more efficient cooling equipment, and reducing certain environmentally harmful chemicals in surface finishes are planned by the end of 2023. The annual sustainability report will transparently document progress on these and numerous other initiatives.
The values of a family business
At KURZ, the values of a family-owned company – for example, employee protection, work-life balance, and further development based on personal strengths – are at the heart of everything the company does. The offerings for employees include support in the areas of eldercare and childcare, the promotion of job-related and in-service training, and a company health management system. Ethical standards in dealings with employees, customers, suppliers, government agencies, and authorities are governed by the KURZ Code of Business Conduct. CEO Dr. Andreas Hirschfelder: “The core of our success lies in our dealings with people – both inside and outside our company. When we succeed here, outstanding performance, great innovations, and successful customer cooperation automatically set in.”
Innovation for the sustainability balance sheet
KURZ’s RECOSYS® take-back and recycling program has already demonstrated to customers, the industry, and partners that the thin-film expert is scrutinizing all processes regarding sustainability. Since the RECOSYS® introduction, PET transfer materials can be returned to KURZ. They are then processed into new raw materials at the company’s own recycling center – a new benchmark has been set in terms of environmental compatibility. The second evolutionary stage RECOSYS® 2.0, which was presented to the global public at interpack 2023 in May, now allows an even greater variety of transfer carriers to be recycled and expands the range of possible applications for the recycled material. Until now, KURZ’s recycling process has yielded the so-called post-industrial compound RECOPOUND®, which, for example, could be further processed as injection-molded granules into durable containers saving 40 percent CO2 compared to virgin material. RECOSYS® 2.0 now opens up completely new possibilities: For the first time, production residues from the graphic arts industry can be processed into recycled PET (rPET for short). This, in turn, can be used to manufacture plastic bottles or packaging. With the help of RECOSYS® 2.0, Scope 3 emissions, i.e., greenhouse gas emissions along a company’s entire value chain, can be reduced by up to 90 percent.