BillerudKorsnäs works for a sustainable future by challenging conventional packaging

© Elodie Bernollin / Tara Expeditions Foundation

BillerudKorsnäs has been a partner of the Tara Expeditions Foundation since 2016. Henrik Essen (Senior Vice President of Communication and Sustainability) has been with BillerudKorsnäs for 7 years, and started focusing on sustainability 4 years ago. In this interview, he explains his vision and describes the partnership between BillerudKorsnäs and Tara.

How did you start working with the Tara Expeditions Foundation?

Henrik Essen : Sustainability issues have driven our business for 2 years. It hasn’t always been the case, but our involvement is increasing. One of the issues relates to waste management. Plastic waste and other trash is a serious threat to all of us. We noticed there were few research projects focusing on trash, particularly in the marine environment. We started looking for organizations supporting and promoting research on the subject, and that’s how we found the Tara Expeditions Foundation in 2016.

What is your personal opinion about this issue?

Henrik Essen : Marine littering is something I don’t see everyday because I don’t live on the coast. But when I’m out at sea, I see how mankind is mistreating nature and the marine environment. This cannot continue. The problems are so diffused and widespread – it’s no one’s fault and everyone’s fault – making it extremely difficult to deal with. These issues need to be tackled by research and knowledge. That’s where we need to start.

g-10-Crew lowers the sails as we exit the wind window in transit to Fukuoka, Japan_Photo Credit Sarah Fretwell_0Q8A5304Crew lowers the sails as we exit the wind window in transit to Fukuoka, Japan © Sarah Fretwell / Tara Expeditions Foundation

What message do you want to convey through this partnership?

Henrik Essen : We think that the Tara Expeditions Foundation is contributing to research and knowledge about plastic pollution – where it comes from and how it develops. But also, I believe that Tara is spreading this information, talking to students in schools. That’s where it starts for long-term development. We need to inform young people. Without that, there’s no future. This was one of our criteria for starting to work with Tara.

How does this benefit your company?

Henrik Essen : We can’t possibly focus on all the challenges and problems in the world and unfortunately we can’t solve everything. We want to identify the challenges confronting mankind like waste management and climate change and relate them to our daily operations. This doesn’t solve everything, but by doing small things, we can certainly contribute.

For us and other companies that share our vision, we have to be honest in our desire to do better. We will never claim that our businesses are sustainable, because that’s almost impossible for an industrial activity today. But every day we have the ambition to do better than we did the day before. We can change the world. In the long run, sustainability can become a competitive advantage. We already see that it’s working and we’re getting more business, but this isn’t the most important. The essential point is that our employees, customers and partners are enthusiastic and motivated by our actions.

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