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Claus Stig Pedersen

Claus Stig
Pedersen

Leading Sustainability and Public Affairs at Novozymes.

Circular economy expert
Claus Stig Pedersen

Novozymes: the Story of a Circular Success

 

Can you tell us more about Novozymes?

 

Claus Stig Pedersen: We are the world’s largest biotech company specialized in enzymes and microbes. Our role is to use enzymes and microbes that we find in nature to enable our customers to be more circular and reduce the use of chemicals, raw materials and water. For example, in the textile industry, using enzymes as catalysts enables to take out toxic chemicals while lowering the process temperature which reduces the energy use. Because you have less chemicals in the water, you can save more water and reuse the same water many times. There are many other examples where the enzyme technology can help close some loops and reduce the consumption of different inputs. I used the example of textiles, but enzymes have the same effect in other industries, like the food, feed and bioenergy industries. And this is a successful business: we have 6500 employers, a turnover of two billion euros and an EBIT margin of 27 percent.

 

What are your activities with the United Nations and how do they impact your work at Novozymes?

 

  1. S. P.: Throughout my career, my mission has been to find ways for businesses to contribute to environmental and social sustainability while making profit. I have worked a lot with the UN, I was very engaged in the process of developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which started in Rio in 2012. Our company is member of organizations like the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UN Global Compact so our role is to be a strong advocate for creating an SDGs framework that is appealing to businesses. Businesses really see the benefit of doing something that is more environmentally friendly and socially responsible if they see a profit in it. At Novozymes, we have adopted the SDGs as early as 2014 to inspire our own process and develop our strategy. We have broken down the 17 targets to 169 sub-targets and many of the indicators into assessment and management tools. We also use the SDGs to develop commercial and noncommercial partnerships.

 

How important is sustainable procurement?

 

  1. S. P.: Sustainable procurement is the key component of creating a circular economy. As a buyer, you should use your power to inspire and influence your suppliers to become more circular in the way they source materials and develop their processes. But sustainable procurement is not the only dimension. You need to look at the whole lifecycle to really understand what is the right thing to do. There are lots of benefits in closing loops but I also believe that there are loops that should not be closed because the costs to the environment of bringing the materials back into the loop can sometimes be too high.

 

What makes a circular economy strategy efficient?

 

  1. S. P.: Circular economy must always be context, geography and industry specific, because solutions differ in different parts of the world. You need to understand the context and the size of the circular model and what is suitable for that context. It is really important that circular economy does not become a religion and that we don’t recycle everything at any costs, but that we use instead assessment, insights and knowledge to build your model upon.

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