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Niko solar panels

Sustainable enterprise at Niko

From environmental charter to sustainable enterprise charter

Being environmentally-friendly has been high on Niko's agenda since 2001. We actively look for solutions to make the ecological impact of our products as small as possible.

To streamline our environmental endeavours properly, we use the VOKA Environmental Charter. We describe the goals we aim to achieve each year in this. An independent commission then checks to make sure we are doing so. We have been successful in this every year: for eighteen years in a row, we have raised the bar for ourselves each time.

In line with the SDGs

In 2018, we switched from VOKA's Environmental Charter to their Sustainable Enterprise Charter, which was inspired by the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These sustainable development goals form the yardstick for sustainable development by which companies around the world – as well as governments and citizens – can measure their own sustainability. They cover 5 domains, the 5 Ps: planet, people, prosperity, peace & partnership. That means they go a lot further than just ecology.

What does Niko's sustainability policy emphasise?

 

SDG 1 – No poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

SDG 2 – Zero hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

SDG 3 – Good health and well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

SDG 4 – Quality education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

SDG 5 – Gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries

SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

SDG 13 – Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

SDG 14 – Life below water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

SDG 15 – Life on land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, halt biodiversity loss

SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

A few initiatives in the spotlight:

Niko advocates greater diversity in recruitment

Niko is proud to be one of the first signatories to a new diversity charter. This charter is a formal declaration of broader recruitment, irrespective of colour, background, age or orientation. More than 50 companies in the Antwerp-Waasland region have signed up to this VOKA initiative.

The charter recognises that diversity is not a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘need to have’ for enterprising companies, and that it is a prerequisite for sustainable growth and innovation. Bart Vanderkerken, Niko’s VP HR, confirms that Niko actively welcomes people from all backgrounds.

Demo case

Ecological alternative to hazardous substances

Since 2017, Niko has been working with the firm Eco-Point, which develops bio-based alternatives for environmentally taxing maintenance and cleaning products.

It is our ambition to replace as many products with a danger symbol on the packaging with natural products. These are less taxing on the environment and more healthy for our staff.

The best filter from Mother Nature

Harmful solvents are released when we enamel the flush surround plates for our switches. This is why the air for the enamelling line is first purified before it is released. A filter made of tree bark and bacteria has turned out to be the most efficient way of removing solvents from the enamelling line's air.

Niko biofilter

Smart recycling of plastics

Niko's ambition is to re-use as many plastics as possible in its production process.

When moulding the flush surround plates, for example, a 'sprue' remains. The high-quality polycarbonate is ground up and melted down again, making up 10% of the raw material for new flush surround plates.

Niko is a Factory of the Future

Niko has been able to call itself a Factory of the Future since February 2019.

This accolade is issued by the technology federation Agoria to companies that succeed in getting their factories ready for the future. For a company like Niko, which aims to continue manufacturing locally in Sint-Niklaas, investing in innovation and digitalisation is the best way to remain competitive.

An interview with Niko's environmental co-ordinator

Dirk D’haese is Niko's environmental co-ordinator and is closely involved in the whole process right from the start. Dirk: ‘Our concern for the environment can largely be put down to Jo De Backer, the grandson of one of the founders and an executive director at Niko. Thanks to his commitment, Niko has always been a front-runner in terms of ecology and we do far more as a company than the legal minimum. Even though that comes with a price tag.’

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