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»Sustainability & Environmental Awareness« are the big issues affecting our society. An increasing number of brands are recognising how vital it is to integrate this thinking into their DNA and align their activities and products with their consumers’ growing needs. This realisation and willingness to change should not, however, pull up short at the retail sector and how it presents itself.
»We want to motivate our partners to act, to take responsibility and thus take a stance. We give brands options as to how campaigns can be staged more sustainably because we are firmly convinced that ecological and sustainably acceptable solutions can be put in place with no compromises in terms of the design aesthetic. We also aim to combat finance-related prejudices with competitive prices.«
We are very eager to curate ecologically meaningful alternatives for our customers and offer them solutions that satisfy expectations in terms of production, avoidance of pollution and disposal. On the plus side we see that there is an increasing understanding among customers that in the long term, retail set-ups must be sustainable. In the past, we frequently heard: »sustainable is too expensive« – but this is usually a misconception. It doesn’t always have to be the expensive high-end glossy, decorative material. There are sustainable alternatives that at first glance cannot even be differentiated from conventional materials, and they guarantee the customary excellent look.
As early as when we start designing a project we are already asking whether sustainable materials can be used and then suggest them to our customers. There are great alternatives, especially for materials frequently used in our industry:
100% recycled acrylic glass is in no way inferior to conventional glass. Although its production also uses energy, no fresh raw materials are consumed. Another example are »EcoBoards«, which consist of agricultural residues and by-products of the wheat harvest. In contrast to MDF, binding agents account for only 3% of these boards instead of the usual 15% and they contain no formaldehyde. The company produces them in a closed-loop system with no CO2 emissions so even manufacture is CO2 negative. When it comes to digital printing, the »Katz Display Board« based on wood pulpboard is a good choice. The raw material comes from sustainable local forestry and the Black Forest-based company pays attention to all steps of production – from raw material to producing its own energy and closed-loop recycling to the disposal of their product in paper recycling.
One great trend is that new materials are constantly coming onto the market. We are very enthusiastic about that and are always happy to sample something new for our material library. We are always on the lookout, and we examine new materials created by start-ups or students up to the point of series production. Together with our partners we are continuously pushing further development without compromising on the material’s look and price.
For us, sustainability in production entails many aspects. Apart from the sourcing of eco-friendly materials, there are many questions around further processing and finishing. That ranges from the origin of the raw materials and optimising their subsequent treatment, to the selection and disposal of coatings and adhesives. With our know-how, garnered from years of experience across many trades and production processes, we see it as a key mission to act as a sparring partner for our supplier network. Fortunately, we have surrounded ourselves with longstanding, reliable partners who are accustomed to breaking new ground with us and letting agile methods flow into their production processes. They are always willing to take the next step with us in order to achieve the best results.
Our main role here is to act as a catalyst. Taking the accustomed route or using the customary material are rarely the most sustainable approaches and by injecting impetus in one place or another, the added expenditure for sourcing or processing are negligible with regard to the overall calculation.
It is however also clear, that we are only at the start of the journey – we’re going in the right direction, but it’s a long trek. Our declared goal is to question every material we choose and every production process in terms of both their meaningfulness and their sustainability and to proactively consider reasonable but more acceptable alternatives. In a market which remains price-driven, it takes both attitude and education to demonstrate that sustainable materials are neither a luxury nor do their durability and reliability preclude serial use.
We are aware that, particularly in international business, packaging and transport continue to play major roles. Even at the start of product planning, we are already trying to produce as little weight and volume for shipping as possible. We back up these efforts by optimising and usefully clustering our packaging planning. Packaging material also offers great leverage. We are delighted that we are already managing without polystyrene or foam fills, even on large-scale campaigns for the global market. 99.9% of our packaging can be sent to paper recycling since our fill material, stiffeners and wrappings are all made from cardboard. Our planning also considers the possibility of modifiable and reusable installations, thus helping to protect our environment.
DFROST will shortly be certified as a »Sustainable Company« which, for us, is a further step in our mindful approach to sustainability. At the same time, we are signalling both in-house and externally how important it is for us to engage with this subject. The participating companies are closely examined in all areas of sustainable activity on the basis of a comprehensive catalogue of criteria, and are assessed by the independent certifying body CO2OL. All relevant parts of a business are taken into account. That makes sense in our opinion because an integrated sustainability strategy embraces both ecological as well as economic and social aspects.
We are also very lucky to have employees who are intrinsically motivated to push this subject and put it into real-life practice. We get a huge number of suggestions and ideas from them. That makes it easier for us to leave certain comfort zones because we are all very eager to make a change. There are so many small things in everyday life that already have an effect. That starts with saying no to plastic cutlery and packaging, reducing paper print-outs, or buying Fairtrade, organic and regional food and extends to switching our motor fleet to electric and hybrid vehicles. For us, however, sustainability also means treating each other respectfully and responsibly, listening to each other, and enabling everybody to work together amicably. There is so much that we could do much better, and that will never stop. While we have employees who are so committed to this subject, we’ll never run out of ideas.
Let’s make it happen.
T +49 711 664817-119