Interview with André van Brummen

“We have a sustainable foundation”

As Chief Operations Officer, André van Brummen is responsible for procurement, repairs, maintenance, logistics and depots at Container Centralen. His is clearly a role that can have a big impact when it comes to the company’s sustainability, and he’s enthusiastic about his work.

“We’ve known for a long time that we need to integrate many aspects of sustainability into our enterprise. We have a sustainable foundation; for a long time now we’ve been working to make it as easy as possible for our customers. The process for our customers to deliver and pick up their containers at our 70 depots in Europe is very user-friendly. The fact that that leads to fewer transport movements is a bonus that helps reduce CO2 emissions.

When our trolleys reach the end of their lifespan (and another good thing is that they last a long time), they are disassembled in a sustainable way. The steel is removed as it should be and the plastic gets recycled. We’ve still got some way to go in processing the wood; unfortunately that still gets burned, although we do plant new trees to compensate for the wood we use.

We have an efficient process for loading our vehicles: our load factor is good and we make optimum use of the vehicle, which means a big reduction in CO2 emissions. At our office, we separate all our waste and we’ve installed water-saving taps in the toilets.”

CC’s supply chain
We always look critically at the working conditions at our producers’ locations. What do employees earn? Is that a realistic wage for the country where the person is working? Are the usual, standard aspects in order, such as safety footwear, noise protection and that kind of thing? We proactively ask the people we work with about these things. We’ve seen that people have opened their eyes to sustainability and human rights in all the countries where we do business, whether that’s Poland, the Czech Republic or China.

A few years ago it was really ‘not done’ to talk about this sort of thing, but now – fortunately – it’s commonplace. Very occasionally we’ll get an uneasy feeling, when we don’t fully trust the situation; in those cases we carry out an extra check by passing areas that weren’t part of the preparations, and that can bring up some pretty special cases. But fortunately that’s more the exception than the rule.”

Promoting good causes
“A great example of how you can come together to innovate and to help reduce inequality is the app we developed in collaboration with the Voedselbank (Food Bank) and a large supermarket chain. During the Voedselbank’s collections, a lot of money was being wasted on packing material, and that had an impact on people’s enthusiasm to join the cause. We helped both sides by offering an app that lets you easily keep track of where materials are available. That makes the responsibility for the materials a shared responsibility, and everyone can go back to putting all their energies into the good cause. Our employees do that too, by the way: on their birthdays they can donate money to one of the four charities we’ve adopted. I’m proud that the ambition to share is so deeply rooted in Container Centralen and in our people. This is a great way for us all to do our bit to achieve a more equal world.”