Sustainability as a key to success
For tesa as a technology company, sustainability is a challenge, an opportunity as well as a fundamental attitude among the entire tesa team. What that means for his new role as Chief Sustainability Officer is explained by Dr Stefan Röber in an interview.
For 27 years, Dr Stefan Röber has been a scientist, product developer and idea generator at tesa. For several years, he was project manager and in charge of the location development in Suzhou, China. The Doctor of Physics has been heading tesa’s Product and Technology Development with its 500 plus experts for 14 years. He has been a member of the Global Executive Committee since 2020 – and since 1 April 2021 has also been Chief Sustainability Officer, which makes him responsible for the development of sustainable products, environmentally friendly production processes and certifications, and company alignment with the global commitments that tesa is facing. Röber is father of two children and an enthusiastic hobby cyclist and sailor.
Dr Stefan Röber: First of all, the good news: We are not rediscovering the field of 'sustainability' at tesa, but building on a very solid foundation. My position has been created to further strengthen the meaningful connection with my area of product and technology development.
Last year, tesa managed to come up with some quite remarkable results. We've also developed and now presented a new 'Sustainability Agenda'. Between 2001 and 2019, tesa was able to reduce CO2 emissions by 48% and VOC emissions by as much as 92%. Over the same period, the use of solvents also fell by 40%. That was a big step for us as a company, and there are great passion and energy behind these results.
However, we must continue to step up our efforts at various levels – and we must do it now. Because the global trend towards sustainability will become even more dynamic. In the future, multinational technology companies such as tesa can only be successful if they perform significantly better than prescribed by legal environmental requirements. Sustainability is increasingly turning into a competitive factor, among other things with regard to the recruitment of highly qualified employees. And our customers also expect sustainable products from us.
Dr Stefan Röber: Our goal is to take a leading position internationally in terms of sustainability. We've identified three core areas for our activities – customers, environment and society.
"Our goal is to take a leading position internationally in terms of sustainability."
Chief Sustainability Officer
We will do everything we can to improve our carbon footprint, including in particular the so-called scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. In other words: In what ways can we ourselves reduce CO2 emissions with our products and production processes? Moreover, we are also taking a very close look at the scope 3 values. This implies, for example, the use of recycled or raw materials from renewable sources that have a lower CO2 impact in the value chain.
Another important aspect involves offering what we like to call Enabler Products, which can help to empower our customers to produce more sustainably themselves. Bond & Detach® for fixing and removing batteries in smartphones is a good example of this. Only a development by tesa first made it possible a few years ago for batteries to be easily replaced.
Among other things, we are now working to ensure that tapes can also be removed without leaving any residue so that the materials previously bonded together can be recycled according to their type. We know that many customers who have held tesa in high esteem for many years because of our core competency of secure bonding to a variety of materials will from now on be placing this requirement on us.
Dr Stefan Röber: Honesty must always be part of the discussion about sustainability. tesa is a technology company – and we work with chemical substances. That will never change. All the more reason why we have set ourselves a high level of ambition.
Because we firmly believe that ambitious goals will move us forward quickly and allow us to make great strides at both technology and product level. In addition, the compostability of adhesive tapes, for example in the case of tapes for the packaging industry, is increasingly coming into focus in many countries. We will develop solid sustainable solutions that stand up to thorough scientific scrutiny.
Dr Stefan Röber: Our current 'sustainability portfolio' is quite impressive. At the moment, we have almost 50 active projects in Product and Technology Development that directly contribute to our Sustainability Agenda: two thirds at product level and one third at technology level. The spectrum ranges from bio-based PET adhesive tapes for new smartphones to sustainable hole covers for the automotive industry as well as tapes for end users that can simply be thrown in the compost bin after use. In the technology sector, we are working on projects that are rather difficult to explain in just a few words. These include, for example, adhesive masses made from bio-based monomers and high-performance biodegradable (compostable) adhesive systems.
"Our current sustainability portfolio is quite impressive. At the moment, we have almost 50 active projects in Product and Technology Development that directly contribute to our Sustainability Agenda."
Chief Sustainability Officer
The core of our sustainability strategy is the new 'tesa Sustainability Agenda'. It serves as a handbook to align our actions holistically along the entire value chain of the company in a more sustainable way. Segmented into the areas Environment, Customers and Society, the agenda contains specific goals and measures that are clearly explained in the Sustainability Report 2020.