Peter Smit on Sustainability
At the start of this year, Smit Visual owner Peter Smit announced that he wanted his production process to be fully CO2 neutral this year. That goal has now been fulfilled. How? We asked him.
Peter, sustainability and Smit Visual, is that from the heart?
Absolutely. I don’t want my company to play any part in destroying the world, at any rate. We must all bear our responsibility. And that’s what I’m doing. For that matter, I’m not just concerned about the environment. I’m also concerned about my people and the Dutch manufacturing industry. Next year will be our 40th anniversary and in all that time we’ve kept our production in house and in our own country. That’s unique for a company that delivers to over 50 countries. But to continue doing that in the future, you have to dare to be different from your fellow producers. You have to dare to lead, and this is how we’re doing that.
Is this step really unusual in the Whiteboard market?
We are absolutely the first and only manufacturer in this market that doesn’t just talk the ‘striving
to achieve sustainability’ talk, but actually also walks the talk. At this moment, we can proudly say: “Our production is 100% CO2 Neutral and we are one of the few to have the FSC® quality mark!”
Can sustainability be profitable too?
Listen, we are a family-run firm. Of course I want to leave behind a clean world for following generations, but also a profitable company.
And yes, in my vision sustainable production is definitely profitable. Think of waste reduction, energy savings, etc. Not to mention the fact that you sell more with a unique proposition in the market.
100% CO2 neutral. How do you achieve that?
We’ve been trying to further limit our energy consumption and improve our sustainability for some time. As far as that’s concerned, we actually regard sustainable manufacturing as a condition for modern entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to achieve fully CO2 neutral energy consumption, for example by installing solar panels. Until then, we compensate our emissions by planting forests. Yes, we plant trees. We do this through the globally recognised certification of Trees For All. We have now compensated our emissions in 2016 and we will be doing the same for 2017. Through our reduction measures, the number of trees we need to grow will keep getting smaller; this is how we recoup our green investments.
What does FSC involve?
It means that the wood that you use comes from responsible forest management. But you may only use the quality mark if the whole chain from raw material to delivery to the customer fulfils the requirements. So we are actively encouraging out suppliers to change too.
We are doing this together!