Sustainability has been one of the hot key trends in 2018 and it is set to continue for the next years ahead as United Nations member states work towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
At Virospack CSR has been one of the cornerstones of the business since it began in 1956, with its team of employees the company's greatest asset. For over 60 years the Spanish Dropper Company has been working to ensure that every member of the team feels at home, whilst respecting the environment as the home of the business, to ensure minimal impact. As the family business has grown, so too have the measures which the company assures for both a happy workplace and healthy planet for future generations to enjoy.
Aïda, you are the 'Environment Manager' at Virospack. How does your role impact the company?
Since the company began in 1956, Virospack has been a family-run company and its traditional family-style values have remained unchanged - they've just been updated according to the times in which we live.
As the Environment Manager, I actively get everyone directly involved in the physical consequence which Virospack places upon the environment, in addition to working alongside other departments to ensure that society within Virospack —our team— and locally to our premises benefit from a positive environment.
I'm one of the new generation of managers within the company and I have actively been part of the company's expansion during the last few years, pushing and investing to apply the latest innovations in sustainability as part of our processes, and integrate the new methodologies and good practices into everyone's daily routine in order to innovate at Virospack. The expansion has enabled us the opportunity to realize many changes — some simple, some more complex — and in turn we are benefiting a new zest for creativity as the entire Virospack team has been united in looking for 'out of the box' solutions that benefit both the team and the company.
In addition to enhancing the production machinery and facilities at Virospack, the expansion also afforded the opportunity to purchase machinery that both maximized results as well as offering a lower carbon footprint.
What does CSR mean to Virospack?
CSR is a broad subject area, but ultimately it is our responsibility to our society, both within and outside of Virospack, as well as the environment. A significant part of the Corporate Social Responsibility culture at Virospack is that we're looking at things in new ways, and many aspects have multiple benefits, such as reducing contamination and enhancing worker satisfaction for increased productivity.
Many parts of CSR are inter-related or have a significant impact upon another area. We are very open about what we do and what we have done in the past as this transparency gives a true reflection of how we work.
Virospack's CSR can be interpreted as a triangle of society, economy and the environment. No one part is strong without the others, and the culmination of all three has made the company stronger than ever.
How does being a family-run company affect Virospack's business model?
Virospack is, and always has been, a family-run company and this is very much reflected in the company's strategies. Family values are at the heart of the company and consideration for the team is integral for the continued success of the company. Our team is valued highly and this has been at the core of Virospack since the company began.
A happy and motivated team is a results-driven team which is why the opinions of all our workers are taken into account. At Virospack, we have always welcomed opinions and ideas from across the team, and there has always been consideration for all the workers. As a result, we benefit from enthusiastic staff - some of which have worked their entire working life at Virospack.
We currently have some team-members who joined the company aged 16 and are due to retire shortly. These people have spent their entire professional life at Virospack and feel like part of the family as they have grown and learnt with the company. Many companies are seeing the benefit to treating staff as part of the family, but at Virospack, this has always been the case and the company's continuing success is a clear indicator that this is a good business model.
What sustainability measures has Virospack incorporated?
In June, Virospack achieved ISO14001 certification, the award for effective environmental management systems. One of the key measures which helped in this certification was the establishment of an environmental committee at Virospack, exploring ways in which each individual could play a part in the company's development of 'green' measures.
This certification has an implication on the entire workforce and benefits everyone too. The company's suggestion box has proven to be particularly effective as it allows workers to share ideas at any time of day or night. Some of the suggestions which have been incorporated at Virospack include more natural light which saves on electricity, plus recycling bins which make it easy for everyone to participate.
Within production, Virospack only utilizes 100% renewable energy, and has significantly reduced its waste so that far less is sent to landfill. There are also continuous improvement measures. In the fight against climate change, Virospack is innovating through the use of new decoration resins characterized by their low carbon emissions and less contaminating chemicals, as well as always looking forward to a sustainable future by investing in new materials from renewable sources.
Virospack's collaborations include synergies with local business, enabling a circular economy in the area for environmental and economic benefit. What is waste for Virospack can be of use to other companies and this reprocessing of material is something in which we are increasingly more involved.
Waste is a lack of imagination, therefore Virospack has implicated itself to take advantage of the creative opportunities which this has presented.
How is Virospack pioneering innovation in droppers?
As waste is essentially a design flaw, Virospack incorporates eco-design into all of its services for brands, and the R+D department works hard to achieve new, creative, sustainable developments. The technical department has also been working significantly in the area and has redesigned the secondary packaging in order to reduce clients' waste so that sustainability is taken into account, not only during the production process, but throughout the entire lifecycle.
Because of this eco-design line that the company is following, Virospack has recently received a significant financial subsidy which will impulse a new project - details of which will be revealed shortly.
Virospack's triangular CSR policy has allowed the company to see new processing possibilities and realize them, facilitating more scope for creativity. One of the social responsibilities at Virospack is to motivate the next generation of packaging designers. Virospack has collaborated with ELISAVA design school and this next year will be enhancing its educational collaboration to benefit master's students from 27 universities across Spain.
Equally, the company's transparency in its work and environmental achievements mean that Virospack now has excellent controls for environment now in order to compare results.
Images: Aida Rodriguez, Virospack's Environment Committee