ÖKOPROFIT is a project sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture, Nature and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The project especially supports small and medium-sized companies in order to optimise their processes with regard to sustainability and the pro-active use of valuable resources. Its aim, in the long term, is to reduce the use of resources and lower operating costs.
With ÖKOPROFIT it does not matter from which industry the participating companies come from. Whether it is from industry, trade or the service sector, every company can participate. This mix of different companies from a wide range of industries is exciting for all participants. The profitable exchange of experiences and building good networks are further advantages of participating in ÖKOPROFIT.
As longstanding official ÖKOPROFIT consultants, our experts at WESSLING, from the environmental protection and sustainability sector, were eager to experience the ÖKOPROFIT project from a participant's point of view. In this way, they wanted to adapt offers that would better meet the needs of the partners and thereby improve them in a customer-oriented way. Another target was to further network the company and its employees, form effective teams and strengthen internal and external exchange.
In order to ensure a clear separation between WESSLING as a participant and WESSLING as a consultant, it was decided to place the project management in the hands of Vanessa Weber (management assistant) within the framework of the project participation. As an interface to the management, the constant flow of information was thereby guaranteed and decisions, for example on the implementation of measures that had been agreed on, were carried out promptly.
Another aim for the WESSLING management was to use this project participation to further increase the awareness of its own employees of the importance of sustainability in all its facets. Together with other project participants, the goal is to find better solutions for dealing with energy, waste, water, sewage, etc.
During the twelve-month ÖKOPROFIT project, in which WESSLING participated, workshops were held on various specialist topics such as “employee motivation”, “occupational safety and environmental law” and “energy, waste and raw materials management”. Since the participating companies all came from the Steinfurt district, the workshops always took place at a participating company. Thereby, after the workshops there was the opportunity to get to know the companies during a tour and to explore the topics further.
In November 2018 the ÖKOPROFIT project commenced with an inaugural event, which included the presentation of the nine other participants from the Steinfurt district. This required the establishment of a special environmental team at WESSLING consisting of our experts in the fields of sustainability and environmental protection. With the necessary technical expertise in place, we together faced the requirements of the project: the main objectives agreed upon are the reduction of operating costs while actively protecting the climate and the environment, the optimisation of resource efficiency, more transparency in legal certainty and the continuous improvement of the environmental management system. Needless to say that achieving the certificate “ÖKOPROFIT Company District Steinfurt” was part of the agenda, as a reward for all the efforts and hard work that was put into the project.
The goals were achieved with concrete results. These included the switch to LED lighting, and the implementation of a sustainability organisation as a contact for employees to participate in the sustainable development of WESSLING.
In mid-January 2020, the environmental team at WESSLING presented itself to the audit commission. The project work from the last twelve months was presented, questions were answered, and during a tour of the company there was also the opportunity to present individual topics, such as the company's own combined heat and power plant at the Altenberge headquarters.
We successfully completed the project on 19 March 2020 and received the award, which was a great success for everyone involved in the project. However, due to the corona pandemic, the planned award ceremony for the Steinfurt district could not take place.
As project manager, I can look back on an exciting project in which we also gained interesting insights into the other participating companies’ methods and often worked together, during workshops, to find new approaches to solutions and improvements.