Eric Leong Son, Head of Sustainability at Distell, one of our founding SA Plastics Pact members, shared his vision for collaborative action in the SA Plastics Pact, starting within the Distell family.
Distell’s Sustainability Strategy is built on calling the group and all employees to a goal beyond the Distell business, for a truly global focus linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Instead of planning action from a business perspective and linking those actions to global/sustainability goals, where actions may then be framed by what is possible in the company’s status quo; Distell focuses on the global goal and then considers company action. This approach stimulates innovation and stretches the business for action.
Distell’s commitment to the South African Plastics Pact aligns with SDG 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, and an existing focus of their sustainability strategy. Each relevant SDG for Distell has an SDG champion at the executive committee level, such that Distell’s actions and commitment to the goals are embedded within the company at every level.
For the Distell team, the mission of the SA Plastics Pact is not a foreign concept. It merely provided a new mechanism for enhancing delivery on existing sustainability goals, with a clear linkage to SDG 12 and other projects underway at Distell under their SDG12 champion.
Furthermore, at Distell, SDG 17 is also foundational to our business. SDG 17 is about sustainable development through partnerships.
“We believe in order to win on the Plastic Pact targets, we need to collaborate and jointly act together, as no one company or entity can tackle this challenge alone… As such the Plastic Pact and its members can make a massive difference by collaborating.”
SDG 8 which is about, decent work and economic growth, is also one of Distell’s primary SDGs.
“Through the Plastic Pact and the platform it creates, we can all learn from each other, as we share the same ecosystem and can address the challenges we face in achieving our targets, whilst also looking at supporting SMEs and the informal sector, similar to the Distell ‘Green Up’ campaign”.
Distell’s approach to creating internal SA Plastics Pact champions
- Start with an awareness campaign with your company’s leadership team. The aim is to get buy-in into this broad industry collaboration and the role the company will play in the SA Plastics Pact and our broader South African community.
- Promote company-wide communication on the SA Plastics Pact via internal communications platforms: Clearly present the rationale for the Plastics Pact, the purpose of the targets that present a picture of a bold preferred reality, and the company’s commitments towards them in terms of funding allocated, and leadership of the Pact internally including the links with existing company strategy and projects.
- Set up or integrate SA Plastics Pact actions into an existing inter-departmental working group (e.g. including procurement, marketing, supply chain), which then feed into a sustainability committee, which oversees all sustainability projects.
- Progress on projects and commitments should be reported directly to the executive committee through the designated internal champion.
- Commit to company-wide and external reporting on projects and progress, as a commitment to collaborative governance and responsibility.
Building your working group
- The team must be ‘fit for purpose’.
- The Pact projects must relate to team members’ day job and focus areas.
- The team member should have existing experience and skill sets to contribute effectively to the team.
- Enabling the team members is very important – company support is paramount.
- Enthusiasm and passion for Pact goals is vital for a co-inspiring and accountable team.
“At Distell, we are aiming for many voices, one message”, says Eric.
As we collaborate and co-inspire each other towards a circular economy for plastics in South Africa, we hope you are inspired by Distell’s vision for internal ambassadors. Please share your innovations and learnings on SA Plastics Pact governance and actions over the next few months, as well as any requests for topics to be covered in our newsletters with Nicholas Fordyce ([email protected]).