Interview with Ron Schilder, Business Developer at KIVO
In 2020, SolarAccess realized two beautiful solar roofs for KIVO. Today, Ron tells us all about KIVO’s focus on sustainability and its choice for on-site solar energy.
Sustainably securing the company future
KIVO, a Dutch family company, was founded in 1966 by Dick Kwakman and now is owned by his sons Louis, Henry and Robert. KIVO produces flexible plastic packaging. Foils for various types of products like soil, decorative gravel, vegetables, fruits and meat. Ron: “We export our products in over 28 countries worldwide and have 3 factories. KIVO group employs around 350 people in total. This does not include the more than 100 people working in our joint venture REKS LLC, where we recycle plastic waste into raw materials”.
At KIVO we have a forward view and constantly looking for building a sustainable organization. Ron: “We want to create a healthy company for future generations. To do so, we need to take responsibility and run our business sustainably. We all need to move forward towards a circular economy.” Fortunately, KIVO has noticed a significant change in the market the last few years. The government, consumers and KIVO’s customers all want to become more sustainable. “Together we can make the change. Next to CO2 reduction and green-energy, focus on recycling is essential for us.”
Recycled plastic is good marketing
Until recently, no one wanted to know about recycled plastic. Partly because of the inferior quality, all KIVO’s customers demanded shiny perfect plastics, Ron explains. Whereas 50% less sugar has been a good marketing slogan for years, we can now add 50% recycled plastic. The market is ready for it and KIVO has fully committed to recycling. The organization has started a recycling factory in Volendam where the company’s own production surplus is recycled. They also started one in Kosovo where, among other things, supermarket waste is separated, processed into granules and reused to create new packaging. The goal: closed-loop packaging chains. Ron: “Supermarkets hand over their packaging, we recycle their plastics and create new packaging for that same customer. This method of working limits the amount of waste throughout the chain and that’s crucial!”
Recycled plastic for high-quality packaging and high-value applications
Many packaging materials, for example in the food industry, are made of multiple types of plastic to guarantee freshness and are therefore difficult to recycle. Ron: “Yet at KIVO we have succeeded in producing packaging that guarantees freshness and is recyclable, made from a single type of plastic!”
In addition, KIVO is actively pursuing the use of recycled plastic in high-value applications. Previously, recycled plastic was used mostly in low-value applications such as roadside poles or rubbish bags. Ron: “Because we manually sort all plastics at our factory in Kosovo, we deliver an extremely high quality of recycled plastic, of which high percentages can be used in applications such as transparent shrink foils and automotive spray films. And in many other applications where factors such as appearance, minimum thickness, sealing properties and stretch properties are important.”
In addition to our focus on recycling, KIVO has been striving to make plastic foil as thin as possible for years. Ron: “If you can reduce the thickness of the foil while maintaining the quality, the sustainability benefits are enormous. 50% less plastic to produce, less raw materials, less transport.”
320 million bread bags produced with solar energy
Next to all recycling efforts, CO2 reduction and green energy are part of KIVO’s sustainability agenda. Ron: “We have some really big roofs and it’s a shame to leave them empty when they can be used to generate solar power. In collaboration with SolarAccess, we have realized two wonderful projects that have an annual output of 411MWh.” This enables KIVO to produce 320 million bread bags and reduces the company’s CO2 emissions by 266 tones.
Even financing is taken care of
The cooperation with SolarAccess has been pleasant, according to Ron. “During the first phase of the project we were in touch frequently. Once everything was on track it got even easier, SolarAccess took care of it all. It’s important to realize that SolarAccess carries out these projects including financing. You don’t have to invest yourself. KIVO agrees to purchase solar power, generated by panels on our own rooftops. And that’s it! SolarAccess financed and arranged the entire project. Perfect for us.”
“Solar energy from our own rooftops, without investing. It doesn’t get any better!”
Solar panels for colleagues private homes
Many KIVO employees responded very enthusiastically to the company’ solar projects. This positivity inspired KIVO to start offering the opportunity to purchase solar panels for their private homes. Ron: “After the two successful large projects with SolarAccess, we now have installed solar panels for a large number of our employees as well. It’s so great to see everybody’s enthusiasm. And I understand that since it is an inspiring sight, these large rooftops full of solar panels. To all companies in doubt I want to say: just do it! Fill up those empty rooftops and start generating your own company green solar power!