Efficiency & technology

Many opportunities and challenges

The Africa, Middle East and Turkey (AMET) region is currently one of the largest growth regions. ALPLA has therefore significantly expanded its market presence there in recent years by means of acquisitions and partnerships.

Encouragingly, the topic of sustainability is gaining in importance in this region too – something which pleases us greatly as a company. We spoke to AMET Regional Director Christoph Riedlsperger and Bettina Bechter, assistant to the Regional Director and the person responsible for sustainability in AMET, about what exactly is happening there:

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‘We see changes happening in the region on a daily basis’

 

What key factors and underlying conditions are characteristic of the Africa, Middle East and Turkey region?

Christoph Riedlsperger: Something that has been very obvious over the last few months is that the customers’ expectations are increasing in the area of sustainability in particular, in spite of having been overlooked as a topic in this region for a long time. As a company, we obviously see the fact that there has since been a turnaround here as a positive sign. Everyone is currently trying to realise their goals – customers seeking to achieve their carbon emission targets as well as governments that are stipulating mandatory recycling proportions. One of the problems here is that there is not enough recycled material in the market, making it more difficult for us and our customers to realise our goals.

We have therefore set ourselves the goal of addressing the problem ourselves by supporting both the governments and our customers and steering them in the right direction. We have only just started with this in the Africa, Middle East and Turkey region and intend to now make incremental progress.

Bettina Bechter: In Turkey in particular, we regularly get enquiries from customers who are interested in what has already been implemented in the area of sustainability and what they can do to achieve their carbon emission targets. Thanks to the training offered by our Academy and the Sustainability team in Hard, our local employees can assist the customers and work with them on solutions. We have also set up our own Sustainability teams internally and are already working on our own projects.

 

The industry in Europe is talking about a circular economy. What’s the situation regarding this trend in the AMET region?

Christoph Riedlsperger: This topic is already established in some countries, while in others it is on the verge of emerging. In South Africa, for example, an effort is being made to work through and expedite the topic of a circular economy. There are associations and advocacy organisations there like there are in Europe, but collaborating with the government often proves to be difficult. Our task as a company is to mediate and to introduce the key issues to the government via the advocacy organisations or to forge contact with the government ourselves.

The situation is different in other countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In these countries, there are currently no projects based on the bottle-to-bottle principle. Although the topic of a circular economy is, on the whole, still in its infancy in the region, calls in this direction are beginning to be made. However, it is not yet clear where the recyclers’ material will go and who will get how much. A lot of it is currently going to the textiles sector. Here too, we need to get down to work and find solutions. We are therefore carefully considering where investments make sense and where they don’t. Investments have been made in partnerships in Turkey, for example, so that we can make use of rHDPE which is collected and produced there.

 

What measures is ALPLA implementing to guarantee energy-efficient and sustainable production in the region?

Christoph Riedlsperger: As already mentioned, we have invested in rHDPE in Turkey, for example. A second aspect of guaranteeing energy-efficient and sustainable production is the topic of solar energy. A number of projects in this area are currently in the planning stage or are being realised. In Dubai, for example, we are working with a partner who installs and services the solar energy systems at our plant. A proportion of the power generated is sold to us at a discounted rate, while the rest is at the partner’s disposal – a win-win situation for everyone involved.

There are likewise plans for a local partner to install and operate solar panels at our new plant in Lanseria, South Africa. We intend to make progress step by step and expand this to other plants. In this way, we will jointly move in the direction of more environmentally friendly electricity.

Bettina Bechter: We have already established Sustainability teams in Turkey and in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) cluster. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will follow by the end of the year. Our primary objective is to raise the employees’ awareness of the topic of sustainability. We want to show that smaller-scale projects such as Zero Pellet Loss are important too. Thanks to the significant support over some time of Aswathy Koottummel of the Corporate Sustainability team, it has been possible to adapt special training seminars on the topics of environmental protection, climate change and sustainability to the regional needs and then conduct these seminars. The fact that the additional courses in the area of recycling are virtually always fully booked illustrates that we are on the right track and that there is a great deal of interest in this topic on the part of the employees. And this is precisely where we intend to continue in the future.

 

Does the spirit of the ALPLA family exist in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey too? What social initiatives does ALPLA engage in?

Christoph Riedlsperger: In the AMET region countries, it is unusual to have project groups that encompass all the management levels. In keeping with the ALPLA spirit, the Sustainability teams in the clusters are therefore very mixed, and this has been well received by all the employees. This mix of different departments and levels also boosts the motivation of each and every employee to jointly advance a project once it has been started and identify new projects.

Bettina Bechter: It’s great to see how this has gained momentum and how a number of sustainability ideas are now coming from the regions. Each and every person being able to contribute their ideas is part of the spirit of the ALPLA family too.

Christoph Riedlsperger: On the social side of things, there are a number of government projects that must be supported. We meet and, in some cases, even exceed the requirements. In South Africa, for example, a degree of diversity at the various levels is required. Having started at level 8, we are now at the top level, level 1, and have therefore achieved a great deal more than was required.

Saudi Arabia is another great example, with ALPLA being one of the first companies to employ women there. This was initially somewhat complicated due to the local rules, but these soon became more relaxed and female employees are now well established. Overall, there is a great cultural mix there, which we and our employees are delighted about.

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