Cristina Hanganu, communication and CSR director at Lidl Romania, tells Business Review about the company’s vision of sustainability and the main projects it has implemented on the Romanian market.
By Anda Sebesi
What is Lidl Romania’s approach to sustainability and what are the main actions you have taken in this regard on the local market?
We are a growing business, above the market average, and in order to continue the same growth pace, it is vital for us to act responsibly in every area in which we are present, to build and develop ourselves in a sustainable manner and to contribute to a stronger society. Above anything else, it is a responsible way of doing business, connecting all the areas of influence of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. The entire strategy is reflected in all of our operations and is built around five pillars of responsibility: assortment, society, environment, employees and partners.
Can you share some best practice examples of sustainable initiatives that your company has implemented?
The efficiency of our business model drives sustainability in all of our five pillars. We launched our first sustainability report in May this year to present in detail the most important responsible measures and results that we have registered in each pillar.
For example, we extended our stores and logistics network using only eco-friendly technologies and solutions with reduced impact on the environment. Lidl’s central headquarters is the latest result of our sustainable initiatives in construction, becoming one of the most important green buildings in the country. In addition, although we have increased the number of stores, we have succeeded in reducing energy consumption per square meter, through all the energy efficiency measures taken to obtain the highest international energy management standard, ISO 50001.
Moreover, the development of local suppliers had always been a priority for us. One of our biggest commitments is to increase the number of local suppliers and consequently the number of products made in Romania. In the analysis period of our first sustainability report (March 1st 2016 – February 28th 2017), we managed to increase the number of products purchased from local suppliers by 29.1 percent and the number of local suppliers that became our partners by 11.2 percent.
Moreover, an integrated part of our sustainable actions is the selective collection of waste. Every year we aim to increase the amount of waste selectively collected in the company’s stores, warehouses, headquarters and regional offices. As a result, in 2016, the total quantity collected selectively and sent to recycling centers exceeded 23,360 tons.
Lidl’s impact on society is an important pillar of our sustainability strategy. So far, we have supported NGOs with more than EUR 4 million. We constantly invest in educational projects and continuously support initiatives reducing the negative impact on the environment. For example, last year, we launched the Lidl Community Grants platform which aims to support projects with long-term impact implemented by NGOs. In 2017, we donated EUR 770,000 to 18 projects. The platform is now on its second round of financing, currently funding 20 NGOs, with an investment of EUR 650,000.
In addition to the Lidl Community Grants platform, our clients’ involvement in social actions is very important to us and this is why, every year, we support four different NGOs by organizing donation campaigns at cash registers, in all Lidl stores across the country.
We also invest in developing facilities for our employees, in line with our sustainable business model.
In your opinion what are the main differences between the Romanian market and more developed ones when it comes to sustainable businesses?
We strongly believe that sustainability should be an integrated part of every business, driving solutions and measures so that it can have a positive impact not only on the short term, but on the long run, with relevant results for the future generations. We have noticed that, increasingly, businesses are more open to implementing responsible management practices and have understood the implications of unsustainable performance. This comes as stakeholders are all prioritizing sustainability more and more as an essential aspect and demanding more efficiency in the economic performance. This is why sustainability reports will become a proactive initiative present more often on the market.