Konica Minolta South Africa shifts ESG gaze

by DevTeam

The multinational provider of print services and health technologies re-examined its use of paper and processes to refine its ESG standing and behaviours.

Konica Minolta South Africa provides technology solutions to help companies improve workflows, speed up output, and deliver time-saving multifunctional productivity. The company focuses on providing a variety of services that organisations need to remain connected, from the digital office through to professional printing and business solutions. It has also been on an environmental, social and governance (ESG) journey over the past decade or so.

“Before ESG became a thing, we embarked on a journey towards more sustainable paper management and usage,” says CEO Marc Pillay.  “Everyone views paper as a risk and tries to reduce usage and reliance, but we wanted to communicate that paper is a sustainable resource, provided you do the right thing and put back into the environment. The most natural way for us to start was to plant trees.”

Offset impact

The company partnered with Food and Trees for Africa and planted more than 50 000 trees in the first 11 years and is now up to 64 000 trees. The goal was to offset the impact of paper usage and formed part of the company’s corporate social responsibility programme but has now become a mainstay of its ESG platform. 

“As a paper generating business, we needed to offset our environmental impact, so we also set out to have all our emissions and impacts measured and made it our mission to become carbon neutral,” says Pillay. “We started an internal initiative called Think Green, which is our in-house reduction, reuse and recycle system and we enhanced this with a focus on recycling our toner cartridges.”

Investing in people

It also started a recycling programme that manufactured photo frames and furniture from plastic. The tree planting then helped offset carbon emissions and the recycling is reducing the negative impact of plastic waste, but on the social side, the company started an NQF SETA-aligned 12-month technical programme to train underprivileged candidates to join its technical sales team. 

“We train students on everything across both technical and business skills and we‘ve had an 80% absorption rate across 20 to 25 students annually,” says Pillay.  “If graduates are not absorbed by our operations, they move into the dealer channel and into career opportunities.”

The company also started a mobile library that travels into underprivileged areas to teach children the value of reading and has set up computer centres to give them access to skills development. 

It partners with an NGO called the Good Work Foundation to create and sponsor training curricula for literacy in rural communities, with a conservation academy to educate and empower communities to be more aware of the animals around them and the ecosystem they’re part of. 

“We recently partnered with an entrepreneur called Manfred Kali, who started Konica Minolta Ignite,” says Pillay. “We set up and supported his business until it became self-sufficient and now it’s a fully-fledged dealership that’s completely free-standing. Unique Printing is another business we’ve supported, a black women-owned company that’s thriving and now offers a variety of services.”

With regards to governance, the company has a programme in place across risk management and internal and external auditing, data privacy and cybersecurity. It supports healthy living for employees, social and safety for manufacturing, and has investments in corporate sustainability initiatives. 

“I think that companies have to be aware of what they want to do and what their outcomes need to be and this is what shapes our ESG strategy,” says Pillay.

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