4 experts on sustainability and the upcoming CSRD

Written by
Jasper Akkermans
October 10, 2023
8
min read

The world of corporate sustainability is constantly evolving. You’ll want to make sure to stay on top of trends and act well ahead of upcoming regulations. Yes, this is challenging, but no need to worry. 

To help you get to grips with corporate sustainability, we interviewed 4 sustainability experts at forward-thinking organizations and asked them to share their expertise on the subject. 

From following CSDR guidelines, understanding your company’s environmental impact to general advice for other sustainability managers. Read up on what the experts had to say in the interviews below.

1. Isabelle de Wolf - HelloPrint

Hey Isabelle! Please tell us, who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Isabelle, working for HelloPrint - a leading infrastructure for customisable printed products - as VP Sustainability. At HelloPrint, I’m responsible for sustainability in its broadest sense.  

How do you go about developing a comprehensive understanding of your company’s environmental impact at HelloPrint?

In my opinion, there are a few steps you need to take to understand the (environmental) impact of one’s company. It starts with looking at your company’s place within the value chain and how it interacts with different stakeholders or other players within that system. 

Next to that, it’s important to gather information from different perspectives through a materiality analysis. The cherry on the cake is of course a corporate carbon footprint analysis.

In November 2022, the EU introduced the CSRD guideline. How are you preparing yourselves at HelloPrint for the consequences of the CSRD taking effect? 

Well, first of all, let’s perceive these ‘consequences’ rather as huge ‘opportunities’. Greater transparency is needed and the CSRD plays an important role in creating such. 

We already developed our first sustainability report, based on GRI guidelines, meaning some parts are not completely new to us. In addition, reading about it helps and many big consultancy firms are providing seminars about this topic. 

What’s your advice for upcoming sustainability managers?

Networking! Reach out to other sustainability professionals to gain insights and inspiration. It is so nice to see that within our field people are always willing to share experiences, tips and tricks. Try them out and finally choose what works for you. 

2. Vanessa Saenen - Arvesta

Hey Vanessa! Please tell us, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Vanessa Saenen. In spring 2023, I had the pleasure of joining Arvesta as an external relations & sustainability manager. Arvesta is Belgium’s largest full-service partner for farmers and horticulturists with a strong international network that continues to grow. 

We are active in animal feed, agriculture and horticulture, machinery, and flour and are known for our 200 Aveve shops and 3 Eurotuin shops. 

How do you go about developing a comprehensive understanding of your company’s environmental impact at Arvesta?

Sustainability is very important for Arvesta. Reconciling economy with ecology? We believe that this is possible. In fact we already prove this is possible!

Arvesta has formulated an overall sustainability strategy based on the Arvesta mission, vision and ambition. With concrete ambitions in 3 pillars we focus on farmers, growers, the planet as well as our employees and consumers. 

We have translated these ambitions into 36 commitments. From these commitments, 10 ambitious priorities were then launched in which major steps have already been taken. 'We care, We act' is our leitmotif. 

Through our many innovations we are constantly looking for means to help farmers, horticulturists, our consumers and our employees become more sustainable. And we will continue to do so in the future. 

Recently we reviewed and updated our priorities through a process called ‘double-materiality’, which allows us to even better comprehend and cover those topics where we can make a difference.

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In November 2022, the EU introduced the CSRD guideline. How are you preparing yourselves at Arvesta for the consequences of the CSRD taking effect? 

Our focus on innovations and sustainability is not new at Arvesta. Indeed we have been setting this as a priority for years.

For 3 years in a row Arvesta has published its Activity Report in which we document amongst other our strategy, mission, vision, our strategic framework and prioritized sustainability engagements. 

In doing so we prepare ourselves for the mandatory CSRD reporting which Arvesta will have to do by 2026.

What’s your advice for upcoming sustainability managers?

One step at the time: the topic of sustainability is vast and can be overwhelming. Continue making progress, have a good strategy in place, take it one step at a time and you’ll manage.

Connect with your colleagues and your ambassadors to involve and inform them as much as possible in the sustainability journey!

You would be surprised at how many creative ideas and engagement you’ll encounter with your employees to make your company more sustainable. This will help to make sustainability even more at the core of your organization. 

Because don’t forget: sustainability is an exciting topic and it can create valuable opportunities rather than being a complex burden. 

Network! Seek interaction with peer companies - the CSRD guidelines are new to all of us and exchanging ideas and experiences can help all of us to prepare ourselves best for the CSRD guidelines.

3. Jemuël Wilkes - Syncasso

Hey Jemuël! Please tell us, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jemuël Wilkes and I am co-owner and COO at Syncasso. Syncasso is a Dutch collections and judicial officers organization. 

Companies ask us for help when customers do not pay a bill. If that happens, the company will forward the bill to us. We believe it is important to help people with debts. We cash. We care.

How do you go about developing a comprehensive understanding of your company’s environmental impact at Syncasso?

Next to very extensive desk research on the meaning of Environment, Social and Governance, we hired ESG expert consultants to co-create our ESG programme. This has greatly contributed to our understanding of Syncasso’s environmental impact, so far.

In November 2022, the EU introduced the CSRD guideline. How are you preparing yourselves at Syncasso for the consequences of the CSRD taking effect? 

In 2022, we set up a baseline measurement on our ESG programme. In the same year, we received a high environmental score of quality label Ecovadis. So far, our preparations are on track for when the CSRD takes effect.

What’s your advice for other people responsible for sustainability?

Read up on sustainability looking at various perspectives and then seek information from expert consultants. Subsequently, translate this knowledge into a tangible and feasible plan.

4. Pui Yi Chan - ORTEC

Hey Pui Yi! Please tell us, who are you and what do you do?

I’m the Corporate Sustainability Manager at ORTEC and I drive the topic of sustainability across the organization.

How do you go about developing a comprehensive understanding of your company’s environmental impact at ORTEC?

We consider the environmental impact of our collective operations and activities - this includes the work we do with our partners in the value chain. 

In November 2022, the EU introduced the CSRD guideline. How are you preparing yourselves at ORTEC for the consequences of the CSRD taking effect? 

We are carrying out a materiality assessment to guide our next sustainability strategy. It is important that we fully understand the sustainability-related risks, opportunities and impact of our work, and chart a path where we can best contribute towards a better world. 

What’s your advice for upcoming sustainability managers?

I think sustainability is a forward-looking role, and while it is encouraging to celebrate wins, it is equally important to challenge the current way of doing things so that we can be better tomorrow. 

How will the CSRD regulation impact your company? 

The EU is introducing legislation that will require companies to report on their non-financial sustainability information.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is considered to be a building block to achieve global agreements to counter climate change in the Paris Agreement and the EU wide ‘The Green Deal’ strategy. 

This can start impacting your company from as early as 2024.By taking steps now, the results will show before the first deadlines set by the EU. 

Do you need help ensuring that you’re fully compliant with the new regulation? You'll probably want to get started by implementing the right CSRD software. Schedule a chat with one of our experts, we’re happy to help.

All the requirements around CSRD compliance summarized on one page

Download our CSRD cheat sheet for 2024 and save it for future use.

All the requirements around CSRD compliance summarized on one page

Download our CSRD cheat sheet for 2024 and save it for future use.

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