Every day business practice best testifies on the determination of Hemofarm to proactively create sustainable business models by achieving better business results. At the same time they develop the local community in which they operate, respect the needs of present and future generations, and most importantly protect limited natural resource. Natalija Popović is our interlocutor and for the special bulletin RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES she reveals in detail how Hemofarm has become a model company when it comes to nature conservation.
EP: Hemofarm is one of 5 companies in Serbia that publish a report on sustainable development, as well as one out of two companies that have the highest score in this area. What does that mean exactly? Can you tell us why Hemofarm has an advantage compared to other companies that may endanger the environment?
Natalija Popović: That is right. Hemofarm is one of just two companies that have achieved A+, the highest possible score in the area of sustainable development in the region, in accordance with international GRI G3.1 methodology. And as you have already mentioned, one of the few companies in Serbia that approaches to its business from the perspective of respecting the principle of sustainable development.Companies are faced with numerous problems in the modern business environment which is quite turbulent. The topic of sustainable development usually does not get to agenda, in a sea of everyday existential issues, but this needs to be changed. The significance of this topic is best confirmed by Agenda for sustainable development 2030 adopted at the UN summit last year. It is based on 17 global targets: to eradicate poverty, hunger and inequality, the prevention of climate change and environmental protection, the improvement of the access to health and education, etc. This strategic importance of sustainable development has to be viewed and customized to company’s business because it is a certain way for their improvement and survival, but also for the sustainability of the society we live in. Foreign companies have recognized that long time ago and that is why sustainable development is one of the key issues and a business approach of modern companies, but also a few domestic companies including Hemofarm. This is beyond the scope of the prevention of endangerment of the environment and it is much more than that. It includes a set of economic, environmental and social issues which illustrate the performance of the company– staring from profit and financial parameters, corporate excellence, human rights protection to taking care of generated waste,investment and development of local community,concern about climate change… This is in a nutshell. The achievements of Hemofarm in the context of sustainable development illustrate that the company has evolved and is able to compete with global competition, which gives us the sales advantage. Likewise, Hemofarm tries hard to provide a good example for other companies how to improve their operations and comply with global trends, but at the same time to use available resources in a responsible way. We have to be aware of the fact of the national importance of sustainable development, whose aspects, with the focus on environmental issues, are rather represented in the latest chapters of EU on stabilization and association of Serbia.
EP: The new common future is the motto that Hemofarm follows and which dates from 1987 and Bruntland Report published in the UN. You emphasize the responsibility towards the future generations with respect to your products and your employees. Is it difficult to maintain the balance between financial performance and ethics that you represent?
Natalija Popović: At the very outset, a few years ago I would say that it was very challenging, today it is standard and a way of thinking, and in the conditions we live in it is a safe way. It is a question of responsibility towards the future generations – we should use the resources that are available to us today in such a way that apart from satisfying immediate needs, we have to we enable the future generations to do the same, because this is the only way for the entire society to last and exist.Clean air and the preservation of the ozone layer is an important factor of this responsibility. Therefore, Hemofarm is trying to, by following the latest technologies in accordance with required standards, improve its production so that the emissions are reduced below the legal limit.Likewise,the core responsibility lies in preserving of the quality and availability of water. Hemofarm achieves this by relieving the public water supply system and using its own artesian wells, collecting rain water which is used as technical water, as well as recovery of water, i.e. vapor. In the broadest context, sustainable development is also the prevention we stand for,rather than treatment. In other words, modern health systems can be sustainable only if they pay enough attention and shift the accent to the development of healthy lifestyles which protects the health itself. Prevention enables the health care system to provide treatment to those who really need it. Hemofarm, through its Foundation, for more than 20 years seeks to further develop the community we work and live in, supporting the health care system of Serbia. This primarily refers to infrastructure projects and donations of medical equipment for the institutions that are in the most difficult position, as well as the development of public aware campaigns in the core issues such as organ donation and transplantation. We do all this driven by the idea that people are our most important resource! That is why we pay special attention to the development of our employees, enabling them every year a number of trainings and opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills.
EP: What is it that Hemofarm can teach other investors and new corporations? What is most difficult to achieve when it comes to ecology and what is most valuable?
Natalija Popović: Let’s not focus on ecology, but rather talk about responsible business, which has the goal of sustainable development. Hemofarm has a lot of examples that can inspire others. One of them is that we came up with the idea to freeze water during the night, when electricity is cheaper and the electric grid is less burdened in order to melt that icy water during the day and use it for cooling devices in the production process. The other example is that we succeeded to preserve up to 27000 trees on annual basis by introducing nearly 90% of recycled cardboard for the secondary packaging of products. To this I might add that we have improved our packaging system, that is stacking products into transport boxes and stacking boxes on the pallets that are shipped by trucks. That is how we have a bigger impact on transport efficiency which reduced the number of trucks transporting our products and therefore we reduced the emission that negatively impacts the environment. Also, we have improved the production system of infusion bottles, so that the part of bottles damaged in the production system, instead of becoming scrap, returns in the production system by recycling, maximizing the utilization of granules i.e. starting raw materials. In addition to this we have accepted the principles of leading code of social compliance – BSCI, that we convey to our business partners, protecting labor and human rights. Judging by the fact that we have achieved the highest level in the field of sustainable development, we are on the right track and that we succeeded in achieving the balance you asked me about.