Alfen strives to facilitate further sustainable development in order to nurture a society that makes responsible choices from an economic, social and ecological perspective. Sustainable development is a movement that caters to the needs of current generations without endangering the capacity of future generations to provide for their own requirements. Relevant impact comprises - although is not limited to - changes with regard to the environment, poverty and equality as well as economic, cultural, technological and political globalisation. As such, we recognise that we as a company have the opportunity to make a positive ecological and social impact, while at the same time striving to eliminate any potentially negative impact of our activities and those of our suppliers. In order to make this happen, we have created a compelling policy for sustainable development. Sustainable development at Alfen is an overarching approach that provides an umbrella for every activity or strategy related to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy within the company. The ambition and anticipation set forth in this policy apply invariably to Alfen entities as well as its business partners and suppliers. The company's sustainable development policy has been established in conformance with the demands and expectations of the ISO 26000:2010 Guideline for social responsibility of organisations. This policy consists of seven key topics:
- Organisational management;
- The environment;
- Human rights;
- Labour conditions;
- Ethical business practices;
- Consumer and customer affairs; and
- The local community.
We have developed various initiatives catering to each of these key topics, of which we will be providing selected highlights in the following section.
Sustainable Development Initiatives
A wide range of frameworks and methodologies exists to administer and publicise sustainability performance. After a thorough analysis of various frameworks and methodologies such as SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board), CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and the spectrum of ESG rating agencies such as MSCI and Sustainalitics, Alfen decided at the end of 2020 to adopt the ISO 26000 standard because it is a comprehensive ESG norm catering to most of the requirements of the frameworks analysed to date. This enables Alfen to report about its ESG performance in a standardised, open and transparent manner. Moreover, ISO 26000 means that Alfen can demonstrate that the company adheres to and complies with the principles of organisational management as described in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (the 'OESO') guidelines for multinational companies.
Alfen acknowledges that the economic activities forthcoming from its business operations can have undesirable consequences for the environment. This is why Alfen does what it takes to minimise its environmental impact and operate in responsible fashion. We pay particular attention to four fields of endeavour as far as the environment is concerned:
- Environmentally-friendly business operations: (i) Environmental protection and reinforcement, and (ii) efficient and optimal use of natural resources;
- Minimise the impact of our products and their components; (i) avoid the use of damaging or hazardous components in used raw materials and articles, (ii) minimise our exposure to suppliers who make a fundamentally negative social and ecological impact, (iii) reduce and make transparent the environmental impact of a product's life cycle; and (iv) reduce packaging waste.
- Make use of renewable energy and foster energy efficiency: (i) work in a climate-neutral and energy-conscious manner - be good and tell it, (ii) reduce our CO2 footprint and make that transparent too; and (iii) use renewable energy resources wherever possible.
- Circular economy: (i) nurturing the development of a circular economy.
We take an uncompromising approach to human rights at Alfen. That is the reason why we integrate non-discriminatory practices, adhere to internationally-accepted labour conditions and embrace diversity within our workforce. We employ 28 different nationalities at Alfen. Furthermore, we believe that our suppliers should also adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (the 'VN') as well as the global employment principles as formulated by the International Labour Organisation. That is why this is a cornerstone of our Supplier Code of Conduct.
Alfen's objectives pertaining to labour conditions are the following:
- To be a company without unacceptable deviations from health and safety procedures;
- To be a company staffed by healthy and happy employees who remain with us for many years; and
- To be a company that mitigates unacceptable environmental risk that can ensue from our activities.
Alfen has implemented its Quality, Health, Safety & Environment (QHSE) policy in order to achieve these objectives, This policy aims to further stimulate and strengthen corporate culture, thereby reinforcing safe working conditions at Alfen. This policy is best visualised as a wheel with five spokes: Knowledge, Organisation, Leadership, Culture invigoration and Ambition. Our values are clustered in the hub of that wheel under the acronym SPARK (Sustainable, Partner, Adaptive, Reliable, Knowledge). These core values determine how we address the needs of our customers and add value to their business models. Thanks to integral implementation, the sum of these five QHSE elements has a great impact than individual integration could achieve.
Ethical business practices
Sincere and honest operational management is at the core of quality assurance and business control at Alfen. Delivering quality in a responsible manner is fundamental to all we believe in at Alfen, and must be in compliance with our Sustainable Development policy. In order to safeguard the principles of fair trade, Alfen works with a Code of Conduct for internal guidance and a Supplier Code of Conduct to make our position unequivocably clear to our partners in the supply chain.
Consumer and customer affairs
Our philosophy is to provide our customers with products and services that are sustainable, reliable and safe. In order to do that, we comply with the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (the 'OECD') guidelines. All our products comply with the respective European guidelines and directives, and are CE certified and denoted. In addition, we strive to reduce the use of hazardous substances in our electric and electronic devices, as well as to promote the collection and recycling of our equipment. Moreover, Alfen is a member of WEEE Nederland and has concluded agreements with the help of this forum in countries in which Alfen products are sold in order to expand the recycling and reuse of products such as these. Furthermore, Alfen is also a member of the Dutch Batteries Foundation (the 'STIBAT') that aims to promote the collection and recycling of industrial batteries.
The local community
Our company has been established in Almere since 1983 and has constructed a solid working relationship with the municipality. Alfen undertakes a range of initiatives to underpin this relationship. Not only does a substantial number of our employees live close to our premises in Almere, but we also have our very own Alfen Academy in which we train regional school students so that they can achieve accreditation and certification. Founded in 2008, the Alfen Academy is still growing in stature, from 25 students in 2017 to 37 in 2018, 49 in 2019 and 58 in 2020. We also work together with the municipality to help the unemployed find appropriate work at Alfen. In addition, we support our local FC Almere City, not only as a football club but also in helping and promoting the physical and sportive development of children, and in 2020 we were one of the founding fathers of the Almere Social Club, a local networking association that connects and inspires the city's entrepreneurs to enrich Almere and enlarge its sustainability impact.