Consumers want to make sustainable choices. This can be seen every day in food stores, where customers increasingly pay attention not only to what they should eat but also to the food packaging. Concerns over the amount of plastic waste in our seas and elsewhere in nature have forced both consumers and companies to re-examine their packaging-related choices.
Finnish PEFC certified packaging board is always a sustainable choice: from forest to your home to recycling.
In choosing packaging materials, recyclable and biodegradable paperboard made from renewable raw material is a good choice in many ways. Certified high-quality Finnish paperboard is a recyclable material and the origin of its raw material is always known: the wood material comes from sustainably managed forests that bear comparison to international competition.
Most Finnish forests are PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified. A PEFC certification tells the consumer that the wood used in the product comes from a sustainably used forest that is managed taking nature values into consideration. It also indicates that the working conditions and safety of the people working in the production chain are in order. When consumers buy Finnish PEFC certified fibre-based paperboard packaging or toilet or kitchen paper, they can be sure they have made a genuinely sustainable choice.
Forest certifications and Finnish know-how also have global importance and impact. PEFC is the biggest forest certification system in the world, and 80% of Finnish forests are PEFC certified. The system is partly the reason our forests are growing better than ever and the amount of deadwood, which is important for biodiversity, has increased in our forests. Globally, only 10% of forests are covered by any certification system.
As the environmental impacts of packaging extend beyond manufacture and use, the recycling of fibre packaging is also important. Luckily, in Finland, it is also fairly easy. Through recycling, the fibre will live on in another product. Pure primary fibre is the best, safe option for e.g. food packaging, while recycled fibre has various other uses. Consumers can impact their environmental footprint not only by what they choose to buy at the store but also by recycling.
Kesko and the Swedish ICA have worked together on the sourcing of home and speciality goods via ICA Global Sourcing (IGS) in Asia since 2016. The cooperation concentrates on the sourcing of home and speciality goods sold at K-food stores. The local IGS corporate responsibility team is, together with Kesko, in charge of assuring the social responsibility of factories.
ICA Global Sourcing (IGS) has offices in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, with over 100 employees.
Assuring the social responsibility of suppliers’ factories and securing product quality form a central part of the cooperation. In addition to third-party social audits such as amfori BSCI, IGS has developed its own social auditing tools, the ICA social audit. The pragmatic approach of the ICA social audit allows for easier communications between factory representatives and IGS auditors.
ICA social audit has four steps:
•Factory and dormitory tour
•Confidential employee interview
Social responsibility issues are a challenge in high-risk countries. In India, for example, working at home and subcontracting are prevailing. Therefore, we strive for transparency rather than perfection in our supply chain. We can only demand continuous improvement from the factories if we know their actual situation.
In case any critical findings are identified during the auditing of a factory, the IGS CR team will communicate with Kesko’s purchasing team and CR team within 24 hours. If required, a red alert meeting will be called for, in which all parties will discuss the best possible solution to handling the specific case.
The combination of the ICA social audit and third-party audits has proved to be an excellent way to promote the transparency of the supply chain. The sourcing cooperation enables wider and high-quality selections of home and speciality goods, and, thus, creates added value to Kesko and the customers of K-stores. Thanks to the efficient process, Kesko now has a good command of their supply chain.
Social Compliance Manager of ICA Global Sourcing
An older gentleman comes in and blurts out right away: “I had to come in here to receive some of this toddler energy.” The location is HelsinkiMissio’s social living room, Albert's Living Room, in the Punavuori district in Helsinki, where families with children and seniors can meet and interact with each other. Volunteer seniors serve as hosts. Parents with small children and senior citizens can stop in and meet one another. The main emphasis is on pleasant time spent together. The interior of the space is comfortable and practically invites people to chat with each other and play together. The gentleman who just entered sits down on the couch and immediately a small boy with a book crawls onto his lap. They start reading the book, while the little boy’s mother enjoys coffee with the other mothers.
Photo: HelsinkiMissio / Jani Laukkanen
Many people, young or old, are lonely. Loneliness restricts one’s social circle, and research has shown it is also hazardous to health. Interaction with others in daily life reduces loneliness. We have a lot of spaces that are natural meeting points for people. Libraries have traditionally created a strong sense of social belonging. Art museums gather people together around a shared art experience. In addition to providing experiences, art is associated with powerful social interaction.
In daily life, stores are locations that can well promote social interaction and help reduce loneliness. A K-store retailer in Lahti got the idea to create a social living room adjacent to the store. The space is called Ainon tupa and it is open every Friday. Local volunteers operate this living room, too, and the retailer provides the coffee and sweet rolls. There, many of the residents in the area have found someone to chat with, which has brought joy to their daily lives. This phenomenon has started to spread. In Iivisniemi in Espoo, Kaken kahvila run by the local K-store retailer offers lonely elderly people the opportunity to enjoy coffee and meet other people on Fridays.
But let’s go back to Albert’s Living Room, which brings different generations together. The seniors explain how refreshing it is to be around little children and how it brightens their day to play with them or just watch them play. The young parents are grateful for the children having someone to play with and for the opportunity to take a short break when others are looking after the child. Also the gentleman who came in for some toddler energy goes home feeling joyful.
Have you seen the online video with the human-like animal characters, dressed in coats and carrying purses, demonstrating bad behaviour in stores? A gorilla ploughs into people with his shopping trolley, a rude chicken skips greetings and niceties.
The Let's Behave Ourselves campaign video became familiar to many Finns in December and January when the Finnish Commerce Federation, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Working Life 2020 project, Service Union United (PAM) and Finnish Grocery Trade Association worked together to campaign against bad behaviour.
Many of the people who saw the video online recognised the subject and saw its relevance to daily life. The link was evident in online discussions, social media likes, journalistic interest in the subject and feedback received by partners.
The link to daily life is confirmed by the study conducted by the Finnish Commerce Federation, with 63 per cent of the commercial respondents reporting that foul-mouthing and belittling of personnel had increased. Of consumers, 30 per cent had encountered disruptions caused by other customers in different customer service situations, and 52 per cent of them occurred in stores.
Many are trying to understand why these things are happening. Has the rude behaviour seen all too often on social media been transferred to face-to-face communication? Does the right to one’s opinion also mean the right to be offensive or rude?
The goal of the communications campaign is to make consumers consider their own roles in the occupational wellbeing of sales clerks and other people working in customer service, and to strengthen the positive cycle that comes from employee wellbeing, good customer service and, ultimately, the success of the company.
The campaign was launched in the busiest season for retail trade, Christmas, as it often causes additional stress due to the rush. The discussion will continue in the spring, as the subject is by no means closed. We still increasingly need people to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Let’s create a positive cycle!
You can view the Let’s Behave Ourselves campaign videos at Facebook.com/ollaanihmisiksikaupassa/
Pia Pere-Vanhanen, Communications Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation