With the ISO 50001 certificate, Boni gives structure to its sustainability policy
Although Boni has prioritised corporate social responsibility and sustainability for years now, the supermarket chain wanted to further anchor its policy in this area in its business culture. Part of that is reducing CO₂ emissions and therefore Boni aspired for certification according to the international norm ISO 50001 for energy management. On Wednesday 9 September, Kiwa awarded the corresponding certificate to financial director Frank Klören. ‘Kiwa’s focus on detail during the certification process has genuinely made us change’.
With 44 branches and over 2,500 staff, Boni is mainly active in the provinces of North Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Flevoland, Overijssel and Drenthe. Boni’s service office is in Nijkerk, Gelderland, also the location of its distribution centre, that doubled in size in 2005, and the fresh centre. ‘Boni profiles itself as a discounter, but that doesn’t mean that the supermarket loses sight of sustainability’, says financial director Frank Klören. ‘For meat products and bread, among others, we mainly work with suppliers from around the Gelderse Vallei. This enables us to keep the “food miles”, the distance required to take food from producers to consumers, as low as possible.’
Furthermore, Boni’s meat products have the Better Life and Comfort Chicken label, the fish has the MSC label, fruit and vegetable and dairy products have the PlanetProof label, and Boni’s permanent bread supplier bakes as climate neutral as possible using solar energy. Through the purchasing cooperative Superunie, with which Boni collaborates, part of the purchased selection is ‘fair trade’ products. ‘Our fully automated ordering system plays a significant role’, Klören continues. ‘It orders exactly enough products for each branch, whereby losses have been reduced by no less than 20%, meaning we waste a lot less food. And if we do have a surplus of a certain product in our warehouse, for example after a disappointing special offer, we donate it to the food banks’.
Despite the above CSR efforts, in 2018 Boni’s board ascertained that the progress in this area was lagging behind the formulated sustainability policy. Frank Klören: ‘One of the causes was that the responsibilities regarding sustainability were too spread out. It is also a question of culture. As a discounter, it is in our genes to always look for good deals, so we can give consumers the very best offers. So it’s not surprising that we sometimes opted for a cheap batch of fluorescent lights instead of more expensive LED Lighting. Changing that required attention from the board and also structure. ISO 50001 certification offers this structure and has the additional advantage that we meet the requirements that indemnify us from EED audits.’
Boni chose Kiwa for the ISO 50001 certification process. ‘A professional party that we saw as being able to give us proper support. Because I naturally place a lot of importance on sustainability and, in my role as board member, I could maintain the organisation’s sharp focus, I was closely involved in the process.’ Boni also employed external advisor and operations case officer Peter Prijs to practically interpret the certification with Kiwa. ‘Together, we worked towards the structure required for certification. During the process, Kiwa regularly held up a mirror to us. Kiwa’s focus on detail, in particular, really made us change!
According to Klören, the attention by Boni’s board on sustainability and the choice of Peter Prijs as internal coordinator of the process ensured the new policy could be successfully rolled out. ‘Change starts as soon as sustainability is given attention in every management team meeting. The choice of Peter Prijs to take practical responsibility also helped enormously. That is due to his natural interest in sustainability and his supporting work for the shop operations on the one side and his workplace with colleagues from Boni’s construction team on the other. It enabled him to secure the new policy. That latter is important with every culture change’.
Not a marketing tool
Besides the aforementioned indemnity from the EED audits, ISO 50001 certification also offers Boni numerous other benefits. ‘In the first place, we reduce our CO₂ emissions. We now use a different refrigerant in our cooling systems and we have switched to LED lighting at the office, in the distribution centre and a number of our branches. Due to the latter, not only do we consume less energy, but we also create more awareness about the pay-back period of certain buy-in products. We have also included sustainability as a strict requirement in tenders we issue.’ According to Klören, customers don’t directly notice all the sustainability efforts. ‘Boni is a discount supermarket focused on quality and low prices. Until now, we haven’t communicated much about sustainability. To us, sustainability is mainly about creating a better living environment. It is not a marketing tool’.
According to Klören, Boni has given even more attention to sustainability and the reduction of CO₂ in its new policy plan. ‘When we construct newbuilds or undertake comprehensive renovations, we use heat recovery, good cooling and LED lighting as standard. With newbuilds, we of course meet the most recent building codes regarding energy savings. We also assess whether it is cost-effective and technically feasible to generate energy locally using solar panels, for example. And within the collaboration with the Dutch Food Retail Association (CBL), together with industry peers and the government, we have agreed to be CO₂ neutral by 2030.’
Has the certification process also resulted in more awareness among staff? ‘At home, we have already replaced all lamps with LED lighting’, laughs Klören. ‘But also within Boni, people are more aware of energy savings. For example, by turning off unnecessary lighting and keeping the air flows of the cooling systems unobstructed. Now we are certified, we must maintain that focus and not slacken off. Neither do I think that the culture change is completely ingrained yet. At the same time, not long ago I was spontaneously invited to provide input on solar panel applications. That is encouraging.’
Photo: Rick Kloekke
On the photo you see Ben Visschedijk (Kiwa Installation & Public Utilities, Construction & Infrastructure Unit Manager) hand over the ISO 50001 certificate to Frank Klören, Financial Director of Boni Supermarkets.