Portrait of Mr. Schleiss.
© Silvia Wittmann

Michael Schleiss on the sustainable use of resources

Growth at the expense of the environment is not a sustainable business model. The reduction of the ecological footprint thus has to become a greater focus of companies.

Interview with Michael Schleiss, CEO Greiner Foam International GmbH,.

Mr. Schleiss, the global environmental challenges were never greater and never more complex. What can a single company like Greiner do to help?
I think that it does not matter what size a company has. All companies have to make a contribution to solving the environmental problems. We have reached a point at which we all have to make a decision: Do we search for new paths and start to become more resource-efficient, or do we opt for old strategies? We have made a decision at Greiner! In my opinion, very different measures will be required. We know, for instance, that fossil fuels account for around three quarters of the global emissions that cause climate change. One measure must therefore be to undertake steps to accelerate the transition towards using clean energy.

Resource efficiency is the key to a sustainable future. What exactly are you planning in order to become a resource-efficient company?
We are living in a time when more and more people are consuming more and more, which means more and more resources are being used. We are clearly overstretching the regenerative power of our planet. We at Greiner are trying to combat the problem with a whole raft of measures. More resource-efficient production systems are one aspect – we will therefore continue to invest in new machines. In addition, we are closely examining what the product design of tomorrow has to look like. We want to ensure that we develop products that can be reused. We are currently turning everything upside-down and scrutinizing all processes and structures.

Is circular economy the solution to saving the planet?
We are convinced that increasing resource efficiency will not be enough on its own. A more comprehensive change in how we handle resources is required. It is obvious that our economy is wasteful with its value-added model, and mostly runs as a “make-use-dispose” system. I am convinced that such a system cannot be sustainable. In a circular economy, resources extracted from the ground would constantly be reused, whereas sustainable resources would be used for as long as possible and recycled in a biologically healthy manner.

What’s next on the Greiner agenda to make the company more sustainable?
One thing must be clear: The cost of doing nothing will be higher than the cost of doing something now. We must keep focusing on the effects the materials we use have on the environment. We will have to reduce the waste that we produce further and of course examine our emissions. In short: It’s about sustainable resource management. The key will be improved integration of sustainability in our daily business decisions. We have to encourage our customers and suppliers to do more and to act more quickly.