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Interview with Jane Chen
Head of Responsible Sourcing


“By 2030, we intend to establish full transparency regarding the sustainability of our supply chains.”

tesa sources raw materials from over 800 suppliers in many parts of the world. In order to ensure responsible sourcing and further expand our practices in this area, tesa established a team of experts to address this element of our sustainability strategy in 2022. In our interview, Jane Chen, Head of Responsible Sourcing, talks about the developments that took place in 2022 as well as transparent supply chains and bio-based materials.



What does responsible sourcing at tesa involve?

When purchasing raw materials, primarily in Asia and Europe, tesa aims to ensure the high quality of our products and their availability at all times. What’s more, we are equally committed to assuming social and environmental responsibility along the supply chain. tesa is on the right track in this regard, as demonstrated by our Code of Conduct for Suppliers (CoCfS), for example. For many years, this has set out in very concrete terms our fundamental rules and requirements in respect of human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and corruption prevention. The CoCfS is reviewed and updated on a continuous basis. 

Jane Chen
Jane Chen, Head of Responsible Sourcing

What are tesa’s targets for the coming years?

By 2030, we intend to establish full transparency regarding the sustainability of our supply chains. And we are not starting from zero – in 2020 we began to invite our material suppliers to share their sustainability performance via a sustainability platform. We want to build on what has been achieved to date. By 2030, we intend to direct 80 percent of our expenditures solely to suppliers who not only fulfill our sustainability standards but also have the certification to prove their commitment to these. Already at this stage, half of tesa’s raw material suppliers can produce the relevant, audited self-disclosure forms. This is also true for tesa itself, as we also act as a supplier for various industries and have obtained EcoVadis certification, for example – currently with a “Silver” rating. We aim to continuously improve in the future. 

Isn’t it difficult for some of the smaller material suppliers to conduct these kinds of equivalence assessments

That may be the case, as certifications and assessments take time, effort and also money, even if evaluations like this generally take the size of the company into account. There are also some companies that do not yet see any particular need to carry out these assessments because they can find other customers whose requirements are not as high as ours. But we have noticed a positive trend and interest worldwide.

What hurdles have to be overcome?

More sustainable alternatives are not yet available for some raw materials, and there are also limits in terms of the availability of the raw materials. In addition, close cooperation is required with all stakeholders along the supply chain – and sometimes tesa is just a small cog in a big industry in this regard. We have to convince suppliers of our path to greater sustainability, which sometimes also means putting pressure on them in order to bring about change. A great deal of persuasion is still needed. Sustainability is by no means afforded the same relevance in all countries and industries as it is here with us. 

consciously sustainable

Consciously sustainable

tesa’s supply chains are complex, since the necessary raw materials come from across the globe.  From the company’s perspective, sustainability is not just a matter of responsible sourcing, product development or communication. tesa sees itself as part of a wide community of different players who are moving boldly ahead to take responsibility for our future. This includes not only our suppliers and customers, but especially our employees. They are all called upon to think and rethink things. Such a shift in awareness has a big impact on day-to-day work. It motivates people to promote sustainability out of conviction.

Do the raw materials themselves and their contribution to sustainability pose a particular challenge?

tesa aims to increase the share of bio-based materials to 70 percent by 2030. This includes natural rubber, paper, cotton and fabric, as well as natural resins and new bio-based raw materials such as monomers and polylactic acid (PLA). Ideally, we are also able to prove the responsible origin of the raw materials with accredited certifications. To do so, we primarily count on the FSC standard for paper products. Natural rubber is often PEFC-certified. As certifications of this nature are often specific to materials and not standardized globally, we are not always able to procure all raw materials from certified sources. We are continuing to work on this as an important element of transparent and responsible sourcing.

Recyclates are the second big raw material area...

The more companies that use recycled material, the less new material will be produced. That’s good. However, we also have to take care not to create an imbalance between the significantly increased demand for recycled materials and their still limited supply. The recycling industry needs time to obtain more material, improve the efficiency of recycling processes and establish closed cycles. 

One focus is the use of certified natural rubber as a biobased raw material.
One focus is the use of certified natural rubber as a biobased raw material.

How are goals and measures managed and monitored?

The responsible sourcing action area has a very broad interface to numerous functions, task forces and business units within tesa. There is very close collaboration with the Technology Development department, which is responsible for testing all materials to determine whether they meet our various requirements for greater sustainability.

During product development, we also frequently collaborate directly with our customers. Industries such as the electronics and automotive sectors have considerably different requirements of materials. We take an open-minded approach and develop new concepts that will make our adhesive solutions and our customers’ products more sustainable in the long term.

What is the outlook for the years ahead?

We have established specific goals and are passionate in pursuing these. Wherever possible, we want to go beyond the requirements of the regulations in the area of sustainability.

Our goal of ensuring that at least 80 percent of tesa's suppliers have demonstrated a responsible approach to sustainability to a high standard by 2030 is a realistic one. As they say. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

For a sustainable future

More about sustainability

Taking on more responsibility for the world around us is becoming increasingly important – for us as a company, for our employees and for our business partners and customers.

That is why we aim to make sustainability a priority at tesa and get to work with this crucial transformation of our business significantly faster and more urgently than previously envisaged.