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FEIBP Congress 2022: Sustainability

Andrew Griffiths, Planet Mark
Director of Community and Partnerships

62nd FEIBP Congress Focuses on Sustainability and Current Global Challenges

Story and Photos by Katharina Goldbeck-Hörz

It was a warm welcome in Prague for the 2022 FEIBP Congress, held September 21-24, 2022. After three years, it was finallyy possible to see each other in person and FEIBP President Andrew McIlroy and Fons Ceelaert gave a warm welcome to the guests and participants of the Congress of European Brushware Manufacturers in the Golden City. Friends from the ABMA and new members of the European Brushware Association, among others from Denmark and Sri Lanka, were warmly welcomed.

In his welcoming remarks, McIlroy spoke about the challenges of recent years. “Unfortunately, these developments have greatly diverted us from the way we used to do business. We all lacked the time, production capacity and raw materials to develop new products in the last two years. Innovation continues to be a key driver for our industry, and we are pleased to have three candidates for this year’s Innovation Award despite the many obstacles that have been placed in our way.”

The focus of the congress this year was on the current issues of global development with regard to enormous price increases in several areas. Three years of crisis have demanded a lot from companies — and there is no end in sight to the global economic and political challenges. There are many challenges for the members of the FEIBP. However, as entrepreneurs, they remain focused on their goals, namely to find solutions. Even the years of crisis could not deter their innovative spirit.

Keynote: Andrew Griffiths

“Was there a moment when you realized that climate change was something that would affect you or your children in your lifetime?”
With this question, Andrew Griffiths, Planet Mark Director of Community and Partnerships, started his fascinating keynote session and he followed that by saying climate change is affecting us all because we see it and feel it personally. As he said, climate catastrophe is now, not tomorrow or next month. It’s here and now.

Griffith’s Planet Mark offers a sustainability certification that supports organizations to measure and continually reduce carbon emissions and increase their social impact. He also chairs the Institute of Directors National Sustainability Taskforce and was a member of the U.K. Government’s COP26 Small Business Taskforce, as well as the Advisory Board for the Global Sustainability Film Awards.

Chairman of Hillbrush, Philip Coward

In his presentation, he spoke about the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the key role it has in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, and also in the implementation of reforms within the UN system. At the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21), the global community voted in favor of a new global climate protection agreement with the Paris Agreement. In total, 197 countries agreed to limit average global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius — if possible 1.5 degrees Celsius — by 2100, compared to the start of the industrialization era.

For individual companies, effective corporate climate action starts with a Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF). It is the basis for a climate protection plan because it shows how many greenhouse gases a company produces and in which areas most emissions occur. On this basis, reduction targets can be set to reduce the impact of the
climate crisis.

Chairman of Hillbrush, Philip Coward, has been working with Planet Mark for three years and is passionate about the benefits of reducing his company’s carbon footprint.

“We have involved all of our employees in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, and it has been imperative that the project has the full support of the company’s directors,” says Coward. “Planet Mark helps us measure our carbon emissions so that we can identify the areas where we can make savings. There are financial as well as environmental benefits to the savings, and we are finding that many of our customers are demanding information regarding our sustainability plans. In some cases, the company’s sustainability record is more important than the company’s product prices. We have a number of ongoing projects to further reduce our carbon emissions such as the reduction of packaging materials, the use of more recycled plastics and the sourcing of raw materials from nearer to the company’s base in the U.K. In addition, the energy usage in all parts of our business is monitored so that savings can be identified. We have installed 450kw of solar PV electricity generating panels and are planning a further installation. I would encourage every company to reduce their carbon emissions, which will make the planet a safer place for our children and grandchildren.”

Looking Ahead: Northern Ireland

After two intense days, the 62nd FEIBP Congress ended with an impressive tour through the many architectural areas of the city of Prague. In the night, during the rich gala dinner in the historic Art Deco style restaurant, the key topics and discussion of the event were discussed once again. In a relaxed atmosphere, Ceelaert warmly thanked McIlroy for his commitment. His time as president will end with the 63rd FEIBP Congress in Northern Ireland in 2023.

Alessandro Acquaderni is slated to take over as president in 2024 and he indicated that the theme for his term will be John Donne’s “No man is an island” quote. This in reference to the last years of pandemic and crisis and in particular refers to the months of isolation. “Everyone has different skills, and together we could make more of a difference,” he says in his outlook. Donne’s “No man is an island” quote emphasizes the common humanity of people.

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