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  • Writer's pictureRanveig Mari Fagerli

Old knowledge is not enough

A huge title for an important subject: How Sykkylven Stål work with sustainability.

The “work” towards a more sustainable future should not only take place in communication and marketing form. We actually have to do the job to make a sustainable future a possibility. We must live up to the ideal and monitor it closely. We at Sykkylven Stål talk a lot about sustainability in various forums, like client meetings and conferences, but we write very little about this in our marketing communication. So we thought we would give it a go.

What is sustainable development?

According to Norwegian Encyclopedia sustainable development is: "development that satisfies the needs of the people living now, without destroying the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs". Discussions revolve around environmental problems, poverty, and deprivation. One can quickly become overwhelmed by all the information floating around, overwhelmed by the responsibility one might feel and afraid of any consequences if measures taken are not sufficient to reach set goals. Sustainability is a massive subject, it's challenging, it's tough and overwhelming.

Where to begin? What can a company in Western Norway with around 40 employees, with postcode NO-6230, ACTUALLY do to help fight climate, poverty and need?

Sykkylven Stål has worked with sustainability for many years, - from several angles.

In such an extensive, overwhelming and green topic, one can quickly feel that one is drowning in everything one should have done to build and promote a sustainable organization. Here's what we actually do:

One of many approaches is to produce products in THE RIGHT quality. Quality is often referred to as a product's functionality and ability to satisfy requirements or needs. It is all about finding the right materials, the right thicknesses and the right production methods that together create the right quality of the product. If we use materials that is not strong enough, too small dimensions, or whatever it may be, the products often have a shorter lifespan than what the requirements indicated. If we use materials that are stronger or thicker than intended, this can be seen as wasteful and a direct unnecessary, negative, impact on the environment. In addition, it can have negative impacts on the product itself and its properties.

Furthermore, we talk a lot about Production Methods and Technology. This relates directly to the above point – quality. Robots and standardized processes ensure the best possible utilization of raw materials and production time. The technology we possess delivers the same results time after time, eliminating the dangers of "human error" and variations in quality. In the case of new products, we have a team of product developers who handle the analysis and the testing to find the right methods and machines for production. They do this in order to get the technology to produce so that we achieve the right quality in the most efficient way possible. If we can avoid an inch of cut-off on a pipe, then yes, we'll go for it. It may not sound like much, but in the long run, it could mean that we have saved meters of raw materials in just a year.

Working towards achieving certifications is another approach. We want to have to live up to someone else’s standard, not just our own. Working towards demands from an outsider helps us stay focused and help us innovate. Our certifications tells us how we should operate, produce, work and recycle.

  • ISO 9001 Quality System Certification: Our policy is to deliver products and services to specified requirements, at the agreed price and on time through proactive competence development and process-oriented performance management. We work with quality assurance to detect and avoid errors in products and to satisfy quality requirements from the customer. The quality management system describes the responsibilities, authorities and duties of management and employees within quality management and assurance. This is used as a management tool to achieve our and our customers' goals.

  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Certification: Like all value-creating companies, we have an impact on the environment, but we do what we can to minimize this impact. We work to lessen the environmental impact in all parts of the value chain by preventing and reducing resource consumption, emissions and waste.

  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health And Safety Management System Certification: We run targeted measures and continuous work to develop and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. Research shows that employees who thrive in their jobs cope better with their workdays and tasks and deliver better results than those who don't. We work to ensure that our employees thrive in their jobs. Both to ensure the quality we deliver, but also to retain the valuable skills these people possess. Our employees should thrive at work.

  • In addition to our ISO-certifications, we supply a number of products to the school and education market that have been awarded the prestigious Nordic Swan Ecolabel. We are a member of Grønt Punkt Norway, which facilitates environmental management of packaging such as cardboard and plastic.

  • We have identified some of the UN's Sustainability Development Goals that we relate to and feel we can make a difference. These are goal number 8. Decent work and Economic Growth. Goal number 9. Build solid infrastructure and promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation. And goal number 12. Ensuring responsible consumption and production patterns.

  • We also have employees who are certified to produce EPDs on our products. An EPD is a product declaration that can tell stakeholders about the environmental footprint of specific products.

It all comes down to "mindset". Norway, and the rest of the world, needs organizations (and people) that have the ability, and willingness, to realize the responsibility we have to safeguard the environment, society and the economy now, and in the future.

We cannot run the country forward on old knowledge alone.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we are searching for new knowledge and input for what we do not fully understand. No, we can't save the world alone, but it's a bit like they say. "A penny here, and a penny there, it quickly becomes money." The same goes for sustainability, every little drop counts.

We support the claim that people and organizations striving to achieve environmental goals are the true builder of community and society. We as a company, and we as human beings, have a shared responsibility to create value for both society and the business in such a way that it does not harm our surroundings, not now nor in the future.

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