At the end of February, the Koehler Group submitted its first sustainability report. In contrast to publicly traded companies, the company is not obligated to submit one, but decided to do so anyway on its own initiative. In this first sustainability report, Koehler informs on the way in which it is aligning its services with a financially, environmentally and socially responsible vision. In addition, this type of report covers the need for information of financial markets, customers and other stakeholders while also ensuring both internal and external transparency.

Koehler makes a contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations agreed on 17 global goals that are known as its Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs for short. Kai M Furler, CEO of the Koehler Group, highlights: “At the Koehler Group, we firmly believe that it is also our responsibility as a company to help make the SDGs a reality. That’s why we’ve identified 11 of the 17 UN goals as areas where we think we can make a contribution to sustainable development both today and in the future.”

The concept of sustainability has always been central to the decision-making process in the family-run enterprise. Accordingly, the Koehler Group makes decisions based not on short-term shareholder value, but on sustainability and long-term prospects instead. Over the company’s 210-year history, acting sustainably has always been viewed as a responsibility towards future generations. And that is because the things that today’s generation does will always come with consequences for the generations that follow – both positive and negative.

Climate strategy derived from sustainability strategy

In order to ensure that it remains successful in the future, the Koehler Group tries to stay ahead of the times and take proactive measures. For example, the company started investing in renewable energy generation all the way back in 2002. Today, this business area is an essential pillar of the Koehler Group. On top of this, companies are experiencing an enormous challenge in the form of current carbon pricing and high gas and coal prices, and Koehler’s longstanding goal of producing more energy from renewable sources than is required for its paper production operations by 2030 is sure to help overcome that challenge.

Against this backdrop, the coal-fired power stations at the Koehler sites in Oberkirch and Greiz are set to be decarbonised, with a view to moving away from coal and lignite, and towards renewable energy sources. This endeavour is costing the group around €70m. However, the power plant conversions alone will cut around 174,000 metric tons of CO₂ a year. And in addition to this, the company’s production facilities for paper are being switched over to the use of green energy as well. For example, the electricity provider for Production Line 8 in Kehl was changed at the end of 2021, cutting another 45,000 metric tons of CO₂ annually.

A circular economy as the key to greater sustainability

Koehler’s product portfolio is also being continuously realigned towards greater sustainability. Accordingly, the company is strategically channelling its investments into sustainable products and business areas based on a long-term perspective.

With Koehler NexPlus®, Koehler is already meeting the rapidly growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions. Customers such as Ritter Sport and Südzucker have been among the first to seize upon this shift in consumer behaviour and switch to our Koehler NexPlus® papers.

In addition, Koehler has revolutionised the receipt market with its pioneering Blue4est® product. Most people across Europe have already encountered the blue receipt paper at Edeka, Lidl or Kaufland. This paper is produced without using chemical colour developers and can be recycled with other waste paper.

Wood, which is ultimately the starting point for all our paper production, is a renewable raw material. Koehler Group Sustainability Manager Jens Kriete, says: “Koehler products are eminently reusable, as waste paper is an important and highly sought-after secondary raw material. This is a true circular economy in action and a key to sustainable development.”

Koehler sees its transformation as both a challenge and an opportunity

Given the importance of the company’s workforce in achieving the aforementioned transformation into an even more sustainable company, ‘people as the key to success’ is the central area of activity in the Koehler Group’s sustainability strategy. Kai M Furler adds: “Making the transformation to a sustainable company is an enormous challenge for me and my colleagues here in Baden, as well as those at all our sites in Germany and across the world. But at the same time, it represents an enormous opportunity, as we all want to leave a strong and successful Koehler Group to future generations.”

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