Lindström Estonia received the Gold-level recognition for responsible business
Our consistent efforts to ensure sustainable operations have been noticed in Estonia and we were awarded the Gold-level recognition of the Responsible Business Forum index. The purpose of the index is to help companies analyse how to act more responsibly towards the environment and the community, and thereby design a sustainable business model and be more economically successful.
Kadrian Jaagund, Vice President of Lindström Baltics comments: “We are committed to sustainability and employee friendliness, and we want to be the trendsetters in this field. Guidance programmes are important to us because they help us think in a structured way and challenge us – are we doing enough and what could we do differently? These programmes encourage us to think about the future, not just describe the current situation. Our way of thinking is aimed at challenges and changes”:
Behaving according to our collaboration with other companies and stakeholders as well allows us to broaden the perspectives and find new ways to promote sustainability and employee friendliness. “The stories of other companies and the network are also important, because we believe in learning from positive examples. And we, in turn, share knowledge and experience to help other companies become more sustainable.”
In your opinion, what are the three most sustainable things, products or activities that you are proud of at Lindström?
First, our service concept is holistically structured to minimise our footprint and preserve the planet. Second, we are guided by a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which ensures that we are constantly innovating our work processes to achieve new sustainable advances. Thirdly, our own people, they are true advocates of sustainability and whose hearts beat in lockstep with this principle. They approach sustainability with passion and commitment and contribute to our goals. These three aspects form our comprehensive and strong sustainability foundation, which I am proud of at Lindström.
How do you help make sustainable choices or reduce waste?
Rental workwear that is used to protect both employees and products is one of our main services. Customers can also buy them from other companies, in which case, their employees have to take care of washing, maintaining and throwing them away after an employee leaves.
Our service includes all of this and even more. We reuse garments by passing them on to other employees doing similar work when an employee leaves. Repairing and washing workwear is also part of our service so that their service life is as long as possible. When repair is no longer possible, we give textiles a new life – old workwear becomes, for example, recycled yarn for making new clothes. Thus, we abandon a narrow and wasteful employee- and company-centric approach.
How do our customers’ employees feel about it?
It is a matter of convenience for employees – they no longer have to wash their own dirty workwear. We also assign a level of wear and a quality to our work clothes, which means that each piece of clothing meets the requirements of the industry – some holes in the welding boots are fine, but garments of the hall attendant garments must always be in neat condition.
In addition, this solution is more affordable for the employee and customers can use the calculator on our website to calculate how big the advantage of the workwear service is over home laundry – given how much water and energy it helps to save.
So, what is done differently?
Everything starts with the choice of material and design, thanks to which workwear is long-lasting. In addition, our industrial washing process allows you to save energy by washing at low temperatures and using detergents wisely. We also keep water consumption low by, for example, reusing water – the rinsing water for work clothes is directed to the other end as pre-rinsing water for the dirty mats. We also invest in energy-efficient machines and collect the heat generated during the process, which we use to heat water.
What kind of team do you have in Estonia?
It is important for us to find employees in the immediate vicinity of our productions – this helps us maintain a strong connection with the community. We are a large employer with more than 200 employees, and we employ people in our teams in Tartus, Loo and Kohila. In the summer, young people from local communities support us in laundries and customer service and gain a better understanding of different work roles.
What kind of solutions are you developing to promote sustainable operations?
We have various activities, one example is to find ways to reuse treated water for indoor circulation. Our group already has some factories where 100% of the water they use is recycled. It is an investment in the future. In addition, we are looking for ways that workwear and hotel textiles can form a complete closed circle, where no textile waste is generated – work clothes become recycled yarn, bed sheets are made into grocery bags. One product that needs a solution is the mat, which is made of textile and rubber. At the moment, we don’t have an ideal solution for how to recycle them, but we are exploring different ways to use them, from grass roof substrates to asphalt infill.
How has the group-wide sustainability policy been brought into the Estonian context?
We are the kind of group whose head office serves the interests of countries and regions, and whose local companies are close enough to the market, employees and customers to provide their contribution and input. For example, our sustainability strategy has been developed in cooperation with various parties, including representatives of the head office and local companies. We have thoroughly mapped our CO2 footprint, identifying the main impact factors: the manufacturing process, transport and logistics, and material production. We are now developing a common roadmap together with the group and the region to reduce our footprint. This roadmap aims to support local needs while simultaneously sharing knowledge and best practices across the Group.
How much do customers ask for environmentally friendly solutions?
Making customers aware of sustainability considerations, even if they have no direct interest in them, is our responsibility and task as a circular economy forerunner. Although environmental friendliness may not be a priority yet for every small company, medium and large organisations have certainly already integrated it into their operations and values.
There is great interest in our activities and sustainability is definitely a strong argument for us as it is crucial to stay in the market and stay competitive. We must contribute to the environment, resource efficiency and community. These practices help us fulfil our role as a strong partner and can provide the sense of security that has become so important today.