“We actually contribute to 15 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
12 November 2019
Mikael Hellborg, new Managing Director at Alfa Laval in the UK & Ireland, on how a business founded in 1883 is providing sustainable solutions.
SCC patron Alfa Laval, founded in 1883, has a long history of providing solutions for energy production, marine transportation, water supply and food processing, and is committed to improving working and living conditions for people all over the globe. The company has since 2011 been signed up to the UN Global Compact which demonstrates their strong values and business principles focused on Corporate Sustainability. Today the organisation has sustainability at the core of its business. The Link met with Mikael Hellborg, Managing Director of Alfa Laval UK & Ireland, to discuss how they interpret the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their everyday business.
Mikael Hellborg joined Alfa Laval back in 1985 after graduating from Lund University with a Master of Science in Engineering. At Alfa Laval, Mikael has held several positions within different departments and countries, most of the years as a manager for different marketing and sales business units. Earlier this year, he joined as Managing Director for Alfa Laval UK and Ireland.
Alfa Laval is a global supplier of products and solutions for energy optimisation, environmental protection and food production, with a mission to optimise the performance of the customers’ processes. The organisation is also committed to the Global Sustainability Goals set out by the UN, which, according to Mikael, is closely intertwined with providing sustainable solutions to their customers: “It is interesting when it comes to sustainability because everything we do is related to helping our customers reduce energy consumption, water use, waste and emissions. We don’t usually talk about it in terms of sustainability since it is the core of our business, but we actually contribute to 15 of UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals”, Mikael says.
Sustainability at the core of business
The United Nations has adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that world leaders have pledged to achieve. According to Mikael, Alfa Laval contributes by setting measurable goals and by developing products and solutions that improve the efficiency of the customer’s production processes. “Providing sustainable solutions is at the core of our business and I believe that is why we stay at the forefront. The world’s energy needs are continuing to grow and we need to make greater use of technologies to enable greater efficiency.”
Walk the talk
As a result of the world’s increasing awareness around sustainability, new more strict regulations have emerged. “Speaking of environmental legalisations, the marine industry is changing at an ever-increasing pace. This is a prime example of a regulation-driven market, which I believe we will see more of in the near future”, Mikael says.
Alfa Laval supports its customers to reach their environmental targets through several focus areas: Water and Energy efficiency, Marine ecosystems and responsible food production. These solutions contribute to improved access to clean and fresh water across the globe, renewable energy production processes, reduction of marine pollution and protection of marine biodiversity and the responsible use of natural resources. In addition to this, Alfa Laval also improves its own sustainability performance.
Mikael explains: “We aim to ensure sustainable products and solutions for our customers, but we also have to work with it internally to be able to walk the talk. Internally we are at the beginning of our journey, and it includes everything from changing the plastic cups in our offices to switching to hybrid cars. We have to make sure it is interpreted in the whole organisation.”
Education and diversity
Alfa Laval also works closely with the UN Goals that ensure education and diversity. The company believes that diversity and education maximise the potential of individuals and the organisation as a whole. To ensure this, Alfa Laval offers its employees competence development and has the aim that the composition of the employees reflects the geographic markets they operate in. According to Mikael, this is a natural part of the company’s Scandinavian heritage. “Working at Alfa Laval, I believe you will notice our Scandinavian legacy, especially when it comes to our corporate culture.” He continues: “We are proud of the fact that we are a Swedish company, Sweden is a reputable country worldwide.”
Lead by example
Mikael believes that sustainability will have to be at top of the agenda no matter which industry companies operate in. “I generally believe that companies within all industries have to prioritise sustainability in order to contribute to a sustainable future. We will try to stay at the forefront by continuing to provide sustainable solutions and trying to lead by example. We aim to be the preferred supplier when it comes to sustainable innovations, it’s a win-win. Working with sustainable processes and thereby minimizing the use of natural resources – whether that’s grapes, water or hops – has a positive effect on our customer’s bottom line,” Mikael concludes.
Alfa Laval optimises the performance of its customers’ processes, thereamong food processing. Photo: Alfa Laval.
The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. They address global challenges such as those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.