Danish industrial company Mekoprint has been working intensively with sustainability for a number of years. Now, the concern is further accelerating its green transition with a plan for carbon neutrality at the scope 1–2 level as early as 2025. An important part of the plan is that Mekoprint, in collaboration with the organisation Growing Trees Network, invested in planting more than 30,000 trees in both Denmark and Ecuador.
The green transition is in full swing at industrial company Mekoprint, and new sub-projects and initiatives are constantly emerging, with internal knowledge sharing through a “sustainability forum”. The latest initiative is the planting of over 6,000 fast-growing balsa trees in the Amazon in Ecuador to complement the two climate forests that Mekoprint had planted in Denmark in 2021 and 2022. Since 2020, Mekoprint has had an annual investment plan for tree planting, as afforestation is currently considered to be both the most natural and cost-effective way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
– Balsa trees are particularly interesting because they grow over 1 cm per day and absorb 40 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year. Therefore, they complement our Danish climate forests very well, as they take 10 years to absorb as much CO2 as balsa trees do in one year. But on the other hand, the Danish climate forests neutralise significantly more CO2 over the total growth period, says Mekoprint’s CEO, Anders Kold.
The balsa trees are grown on old farmland and are felled after about 5 years when they reach a height of 25–35 metres, after which they are used, among other things, to make wind turbine blades. In this way, the trees will be put to good use yet again, and the felled trees will be replaced by new ones. In addition, 3 hectares of the old existing Amazon rainforest are secured for every hectare of balsa trees planted by Mekoprint through the Growing Trees Network.
The balsa trees and the local employment secured in the Amazon have a cost equivalent of approx. 40 EUR per tonne of CO2 uptake over the 5-year growing period. In comparison, the Danish climate forests are significantly more expensive per tonne of CO2 uptake for the first 5 years; however, this cost drops significantly to below 15 EUR per tonne of CO2 over the total growth period.
Mekoprint has planted a total of 24,000 trees in two climate forests near Sæby and Nibe in North Jutland, with a total area of 6 hectares, which have been given the status of protected forest. This also supports the goal of Denmark’s National Forest Programme that forest landscapes should cover 20–25 percent of the country’s area by the end of the 21st century. The climate forests are included in the company’s climate accounts because, as a sponsor, Mekoprint also owns the rights to the trees’ CO2 absorption.
According to Anders Kold, it is a win-win when Danish companies and municipal or private landowners take joint responsibility and enter into agreements on climate forests.
– We have entered into a strategic partnership with Growing Trees Network and Naturplant, in which we see great potential. Through this collaboration, we can both achieve an effective and lasting CO2-reducing effect and, at the same time, halve our costs because it is far cheaper to plant climate forests than to buy CO2 quotas, Anders Kold says.
Aim for carbon neutrality by 2025
The climate forest project is an essential part of Mekoprint’s action plan for carbon neutrality at the scope 1–2 level already in 2025, and several initiatives are underway.
– We have a clear plan to become carbon neutral by transitioning from natural gas to heat pumps converting natural gas to heat pumps, investing in solar panels and using wind turbine power for the remaining electricity consumption. The remaining CO2 emissions related to district heating, industrial gas and company transport will be neutralised by planting trees, Anders Kold explains.
In 2022, Mekoprint installed 2,600 m2 of solar panels at its factory in Aalborg, and the expectation is to deploy large heat pumps at the company’s three factories in Støvring within the coming year.
Mekoprint’s initiatives emphasise that the company is not only focused on turnover and earnings. Mekoprint joined the UN Global Compact initiatives as early as 2017 and today works with a quadruple bottom line related to objectives in the areas of job satisfaction, economic growth, customer satisfaction and social responsibility. The evolution of the four bottom lines is closely monitored to ensure balanced long-term sustainable development.
– It is important for us to take responsibility for the society we are part of, and here we still have great potential to make a difference – not least by fully neutralising our own climate impact. But we are also in the process of helping our customers reduce CO2 emissions by advising on their product development so that new electronics products require fewer resources and the entire value chain takes responsibility for CO2 emissions,” says Anders Kold.