Fred Vandermarliere, CEO of VCF (Vandermarliere Family of Cigars), today received an annual VCDO certificate from Voka, in recognition of the company’s successful sustainability efforts. VCF signed a sustainability charter in 2021 and, in consultation with the Flemish employers’ organization VOKA, set 20 concrete and measurable objectives, which have all been achieved.
“It’s a reward for our teams who have been able to put in place smart improvements, and an encouragement to continue in this way,” says Vandermarliere. “With our VOKA coach, we are now looking at further improvements, such as mapping our CO2 flows, which is key to reducing emission levels.”
Each company that signs the sustainable development charter voluntarily commits to reducing its footprint each year. “In 2021, we signed the charter and listed 20 objectives. Today, we are proud to announce that they have all been achieved,” says Serge Ponnet, who coordinates VCF’s engagement.
100 tonnes of plastic packaging and 600,000 boxes eliminated
This list of accomplishments includes some major milestones. For example, VCF was able to replace all plastic packaging with cardboard for its Neos Exo series, significantly reducing environmental impact. Thanks to this change, a volume of 100 tons of plastic was removed from the production line.
This important change has been carefully prepared. For example, it was a deliberate choice to ban plastic because of the damage it causes to our oceans, whereas biodegradable plastics offer lower quality. The board – MetsäBoard – comes with ironclad durability guarantees from the manufacturer.
For a number of other product lines, VCF has also succeeded in significantly reducing the share of the cardboard itself. No fewer than 600,000 cardboard overpacks were successfully removed from the process. This change was also one of the predetermined goals.
VCF’s mobility policy was also analysed. The company’s fleet will be made greener from 2022 by switching to hybrid and electric cars. Each choice is optimized by examining each person’s travel route.
Belgian tobacco and environmentally friendly sowing methods
Another remarkable initiative: on the initiative of VCF, tobacco for the production of cigars is making a strong comeback in West Flanders. This will lead to a revival of knowledge about this traditional craft and seed species that promote biodiversity in the region. Finally, local tobacco cultivation is the basis for sustainable production due to the shorter production chain.
“We are very satisfied with our first year, says Serge Ponnet. “But perhaps the most important achievement is that these projects help us to raise the environmental awareness of all our employees. It creates perspectives. We are also very happy to have made this commitment with Voka. Of course, they check whether we meet our commitments, but they also play an important role by providing technical know-how. They motivate and drive us, like a true partner.
“VCF is off to a good start. During their first cycle, they achieved 20 sustainable actions, linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These significant efforts are rewarded with a first annual VCDO certificate,” says Voka.