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“Sustainable companies are the new role models”

bpost group’s ambition is to take the lead in sustainability within its sector. How they want to do it? With a clear strategy and numerous other concrete initiatives. “Companies such as bpost group are perfectly placed to help realize the sustainability transition worldwide,” says Wayne Visser, sustainability expert at the Antwerp Management School and fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership.

Today, stakeholders expect companies to respond positively and proactively to the environmental impact of their economic activities and to take their social role in society. In the past, a lot of companies used to do it. But it was just to improve their image. Now, companies are more and more convinced of the benefits of a well thought-out sustainability strategy. “Studies prove that sustainably oriented companies are financially more profitable,” says Wayne Visser. “By reducing their energy consumption, companies are reducing their costs. They optimize their supply chain through circular processes. Or they can bet more on their employees who are also committed to sustainability. This approach also attracts new talent. These are just a few examples.”

People, Planet and Proximity

Some companies even take it a step further and lead the sustainable way in their sector. bpost group is one of them. For quite some time now, sustainability has been an intricate part of the company’s DNA. “We are constantly making our business processes and culture more sustainable,” declares Philip Mol, Head of Group Sustainability at bpost group. “We have both a social and an economic impact on society. That is why we focus on three pillars: People, Planet and Proximity.” Because today the group has grown into an international service provider, the ambitions for the coming years are even higher.

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“Our direct impact on society is both social and economic.”

Philip Mol Head of Group Sustainability at bpost group

A better quality of life

One of the concrete examples of these ambitions is ‘Ecozone Mechelen’, where parcels are delivered on foot, by bicycle and by electric delivery vans. Philip Mol: “The number of kilometres travelled per package is decreasing, fewer delivery vans are driving around, and CO2 emissions are decreasing. The result is a healthier air and a better quality of life in the city centre.” Another example, in the Netherlands sister company DynaGroup focuses on circular business solutions. Customers can have their broken smartphone collected, repaired and returned within 24 hours. “So we extend mobile phones’ lifespan and reduce the quantity of waste,” says Philip Mol.

Stakeholder Capitalism

Those initiatives show that bpost group is committed to create added value in the long term. It is all about finding a balance between economic profitability and providing a social surplus. And it applies to shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees and the local communities. The recent materiality assessment is also an important guide in this regard. This survey of all stakeholders worldwide identified which aspects of sustainability are important to all parties involved. “A good example of stakeholder capitalism”, says Wayne Visser. “Companies such as bpost group are perfectly placed to achieve a global sustainability transition.” The reason? Unlike governments and NGOs, for example, large companies have the right capacity, the capital, the innovation and the speed to translate sustainability into reality.

“Large companies have the right capacity, the capital, the innovation and the speed to translate sustainability into reality.”

Wayne Visser sustainability expert and professor at the Antwerp Management School and fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership

Sustainable partners

Other companies are also increasingly choosing partners who help them become more sustainable. “Take the example of Active Ants, an e-fulfillment centre for web shops,” says Philip Mol. “There, we use robots that optimally adapt the packaging to the content, reducing the cardboard needed as well as the number of transports on the road.”

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