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Displaying items by tag: Van Houtum

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 05:10

Sun and wind instead of gas

Fossil fuels will become increasing scarce in the future. So we are investigating the possibility of using all kinds of alternatives to gas as an energy source, such as biomass, solar energy and wind energy for producing green electricity. Ideally, we wish to install solar panels on the factory roof above our Converting section in the foreseeable future and we may participate in a wind turbine farm that is likely to be built locally.

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Company Buyer Frank Bosmans: “Last year, we arranged a brainstorming session on satisfying our future energy needs. We have now seriously looked into a number of possibilities that match our sustainability vision, but have not yet taken concrete action. Solar panels and wind turbines are ideal methods for generating green electricity. We are investigating whether the roof and roof support structure above the Converting section are suitable for installing solar panels.”

As a leader in CSR, we want to make a statement, says Bosmans. “The most sustainable scenario is that we will be able to operate independently of fossil fuels at our production site. We are looking at the feasibility and financial viability of introducing power to heat as a method of exclusively using sustainably generated electricity in our production process. However, this is still very much a future scenario as our investigation has just started.

We consume 13.5 million cubic metres of gas annually. Most of this gas, 11 million m3 in fact, is used in our combined heat and power plant to produce the steam required to dry our paper. This plant also gives us the capability of generating approximately 25 to 30 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity as a source of power for our machines. That is still insufficient however, and we have to purchase a further 12 million kWh elsewhere.

We are also interested in wind turbines. Plans for building an energy park on the Roerstreek industrial estate in Roermond are currently being drawn up and reviewed. Frank Bosmans: “We are investigating the possibilities for participating in this project. However, among other factors, that will depend on whether the government is prepared to invest in the project.”

Five wind turbines are already operating at the Neer wind farm in central Limburg. The fifth unit was installed by Windmolencoörperatie Zuidenwind in September. Private individuals and companies can still invest in this last wind turbine. Frank Bosmans: “Investing in a wind turbine delivers a better return than putting money in a savings account. In addition, your investment contributes to producing more sustainable energy in Limburg in the future. So we actively give our employees information about this investment opportunity.”   

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Toscotec has been awarded a contract to deliver a dry end rebuilding of the Van Houtum B.V. PM 4 tissue machine in Swalmen, The Netherlands. The start-up of the rebuilt machine is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015.

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Van Houtum is an independent producer of hygienic paper products and innovative washroom solutions for 80 years and is a leader in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This family-owned company operates one mill in Swalmen, located in the south of the Netherlands, where it can produce approximately 45,000 tonnes/yr of tissue from recovered paper on two machines. A separate location nearby houses nine converting lines: three rewinders produce toilet and industrial products and six lines produce interfold and multifold products. The firm has some 200 employees and generates annual sales of around €65m. Under the brand name of “Satino Black”, environmental labelled as FSC recycled and European Ecolabel as well as Cradle to Cradle-certified, the Company offers a wide range of products that includes toilet paper and paper hand towels.

2015-01-20 085412In line with this green and dared philosophy, the Company has decided to choose Toscotec for its dry end rebuild on the PM4. The purpose of the rebuilding is to implement machine efficiency, reliability and safety in operations.

Toscotec 's delivery includes a new reel TT Reel-P that will replace completely the existing old one. The supply is completed also by new tail threading system, sheet stabilizers and shaft puller with expandable shafts. The project will be handled on a turnkey basis, including dismantling of the existing equipment, installation of the new machinery, start-up assistance and training services.

The new machine parts will be designed for an operative speed up to 1800 mpm with a paper width of 2600 mm.

Toscotec is a major paper and tissue machinery supplier that operates worldwide, focused on process solutions that cover the whole plant area from stock preparation up to winders. This new project consolidates the well know Company capabilities to provide, not only a wide range of new machinery but also complex rebuild projects based on turnkey concept. 

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Managing director Bas Gehlen was invited to give a talk on Van Houtum and Satino Black in the European Parliament on 4 June 2013. The use of Van Houtum as a business case study in the Business Innovation in a Living Economy report produced by the Worldwatch Institute Europe had led to this invitation. “An invitation at this high level is both an acknowledgement and confirmation of our authoritative position as a leader in CSR”, says Bas Gehlen.

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Managing director Bas Gehlen described our company philosophy at the European Parliament.

The Worldwatch Institute, a respected research institute based in Washington with a European office in Copenhagen, comes up with innovative solutions for challenging environmental problems and strives to create a sustainable world. “Having the privilege of talking about our company in front of an international audience in the European Parliament was a fantastic experience”, says Bas Gehlen. “Hardly an everyday event obviously.”

Bas Gehlen described our company philosophy in an auditorium alongside the main conference room at the European Parliament.  “I explained that ecological and economic considerations go hand-in-hand at Van Houtum. And that our signature product, Satino Black, is proof of that unique approach. It is Cradle to Cradle certified and leaves no harmful residues behind in the environment."

Van Houtum, in the select company of a number of other European companies, was the subject of detailed scrutiny in the Report produced by Worldwatch Institute Europe. Bas Gehlen: “We are mentioned in what can be seen as a report on the future that explores and analyses new forms of sustainability and new sustainability concepts. The guiding principle for innovation in a living economy is that a company is not an isolated entity, but part of an ecological system; you share reciprocally with your environment and set up closed-loop processes within that environment.  Our Satino Black concept fits in perfectly with the notion of a circular economy.”

Bas Gehlen continues:  “We always want to make a positive contribution to our stakeholders. If you succeed in achieving that continuously, your position as a company becomes unshakeable. We have had great success with Satino Black in this respect. Speaking figuratively, sustainability has to be in your genes and that is the case at Van Houtum. We have embarked on a journey to becoming a complete Cradle to Cradle company.”

The talk in Brussels is not an isolated event. “We are regularly invited to events of all kinds in order to explain our CSR vision. The presentation to the European Parliament was a wonderful experience and may open up new avenues of opportunity. Who knows what interesting and fascinating challenges we can expect as a result!”    

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Monday, 19 November 2012 09:15

Almere City scores with Satino Black

Almere City FC has a burning ambition. This professional football club from Almere wants to win a place in the Dutch Premier league, the highest level attainable in the Netherlands, during the next 5 to 6 years. In anticipation, renovation work has been carried out at the stadium during the past few months. “That work also includes the washroom and sanitation equipment”, says Managing Director Raymond Groenteman. “We recently chose in favour of the very stylish range of Satino Black products, which are a perfect match for our lofty ambitions.”


Almere City FC is currently being subjected to a facelift. The club collaborates closely with Ajax in terms of sporting development. Ajax sends young, promising players to Almere City where they can mature while playing in the Jupiler League. Trainer Fred Grim, who is also from Ajax, wants to use these players to help the club rise through the Leagues. Managing Director Raymond Groenteman: “When you acquire players like these, you need to ensure that they feel at home at a well equipped and friendly club. All your facilities have to be in perfect order and that includes the toilet areas.”

All the toilet areas in the main building were recently equipped with the complete range of Satino Black products; i.e. hygienic paper, hand soap, foam soap, toilet seat cleaner and dispensers. Raymond Groenteman: “It was the attractive design of the dispensers which swayed our decision in favour of Satino Black. Obviously, we also value the fact that Satino Black products are produced in a CO2-neutral process and don't leave harmful products behind in the environment.”

Manus Vos, the Managing Director of Total Cleaning Products, is the club's supplier. “Almere City FC is the first professional football club in the Netherlands to choose in favour of Satino Black and we are particularly proud of this achievement. In an organisation where you would expect all eyes to be focused on football, the club's directors are also concerned about style and appearances and that's not something you see every day. Professional football attracts a great deal of public interest and Satino Black is bound to benefit from that exposure. Almere City FC is working hard to achieve its ambitions; when the club scores, that's a goal for Satino Black as well. ”

 Almere City not only applies the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility in its sustainability policy, but also in its charitable activities. The club is an ambassador for Stichting DON, a foundation that funds research into diabetes in the Netherlands, and the players all proudly wear DON's logo on their sleeve. Groenteman: “This was another project that we carefully selected. Diabetes is a silent killer. Hardly anybody is aware that the disease can kill you almost without warning. We wholeheartedly support this valuable project. We can safely say that Almere City FC is about much more than just football alone.”  

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Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:30

Satino Black wins WWF Paper Award

Van Houtum received the international WWF Environmental Paper Award 2012 on 13 November. We won this award because our Cradle to Cradle-certified hygienic paper, Satino Black, scores highly in the area of environmental performance.

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A total of 11 companies received the award because they are transparent about their production process or achieve outstanding environmental performance with a specific product. Van Houtum is the only winner from the Netherlands.

The award is an initiative of the World Nature Fund and designed to put the spotlight on companies that have submitted their brands for inclusion in the WWF Check Your Paper database. A listing in this database demonstrates how transparent the producers are and how sustainable their production chain is. The database can be viewed via the WWF website: Buyers can use this information when selecting specific companies or products.

The winning brands achieve a score of at least 90 percent in terms of overall environmental performance, or are assigned the maximum attainable five-star rating in the forest, water and climate performance categories. Satino Black complies with both requirements, achieving five stars in all of the categories and a score of 98 percent.

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Friday, 20 July 2012 10:00

New director builds brands

Henk Bremer assumed the position of Commercial Director on 16 April. He says, resolutely: “We are entering a new phase in the Satino story. The first huge step, i.e. thinking in terms of brands, has been completed and the next step is to accelerate and deepen our Satino activities. I see contributing to the future prospects of this fantastic company as an exciting challenge.”

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Henk Bremer is a specialist when it comes to transforming a product-driven organisation into a more market-driven business. He was one of the driving forces behind the process that transformed clothing company Vlisco in Helmond from a textile printing business into an international fashion brand. “Building brands, linking specific experiences to products and achieving growth; those are our targets for the coming years”, says Henk Bremer.

“As a small, trendsetting paper producer in a fiercely competitive market, we simply have to differentiate ourselves even more strongly. Satino Black has been positioned excellently in the market during the past three years, but our brand portfolio is much broader and we have so many other products in our range. Not only do we intend to link them to the CSR story, we are also going to convince consumers that loyally buying our branded products is exciting, fun and trendy.”

Satino Black is an excellent example of how to successfully build a brand, he says. “We got the market talking, generated interest in the product, innovated at product level and gave our CSR activities their own individual face. My job now is to innovate even more strongly in the market in order to achieve further growth. We will succeed by positioning the Satino brand even more clearly, by adapting our thinking to focus even more strongly on brands, by becoming more successful in regions outside the Benelux and by developing promotions to give the Satino brand an extra boost.”

Assuring the future of the entire organisation is our central concern. Henk Bremer: “That is a very lengthy process; in fact, it's something that will always be ongoing. Our main objective is to stay in the spotlight, in the same way as Adidas, Apple or Spa Reine continually manage to do so. The future development of Satino involves coming up with something new again each year for each generation. We want to stay in the news and continue to set the trend. Via our communication campaigns on some occasions, based on products on other occasions, or based on the way we handle customers and business relations. So we will always put our energy into increasing and constantly improving the presence and attraction of our brands. The road to success is open to us and that is the road we will take.”

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Twenty-two kids from grades 7 and 8 of the Lambertus primary school in Swalmen recently visited us to find out more about our environmentally friendly production processes. Their visit was part of the so-called Environmental Meetings Programme (EMP) in which various schools in Middle Limburg participated. QHSE coordinator Jos Manders: “In line with our CSR guidelines, we are happy to invest time and energy in the young people around us. These kinds of visits are intended to teach them something useful for the future.”



The goal of the EMP is to raise the awareness level of kids, via out of class activities, with respect to their own impact on nature, the environment and sustainability in their immediate surroundings. “So our company is a good place for them to visit,” explains Jos Manders, “as we do our best every day to minimize the impact of our production process on the environment.”

After an introduction by Manders, the kids were given a tour of the factory and were allowed to make paper themselves with several operators. “They're always very enthusiastic, but they're also surprised by the noise, heat and smells in the factory. More than likely, they don't expect that, as very little of it is noticeable outside the factory.”

Manders explains things to the kids in a straightforward and honest fashion. “The paper industry does impact the environment, and we don't avoid that issue. After all, we use a great deal of energy, electricity and water and also generate waste materials. I explain to them that all this contributes to CO2 emissions and climate warming. Of course, I also explain that all the paper we make is made from recycled paper and that no trees need to be cut down for our production process. Throughout the production process, we continually take the environment into account and use as little energy as possible. People obviously need toilet paper, but the real question is how to produce it in an environmentally friendly fashion.”

“Our company is based on three pillars”, says Manders: “people, planet and profit. These 3 Ps need to be in balance with each other. For example, if there's too much of a focus on profit, things will definitely end up badly in the long term. Problems will arise with the surrounding population and/or the employees. We strongly believe that, without a well thought out CSR policy, it's simply impossible to operate a company in a sound and responsible fashion.”

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Spain is going through a period of uncertainty and experiencing extremely high levels of unemployment, in particular among young people. The economic crisis is impacting many people. Rob Didden, export sales manager: “Nevertheless, our Spanish distributor, EurodelHarpas, has successfully worked together with us to recruit a significant number of new end users of Satino Black. In view of the pessimism that presently permeates Spain, that is really an excellent result.”





Our paper hand towels and toilet paper in particular are being purchased in increasing quantities by existing as well as new end-users. “Satino Black is and will continue to be the world's most eco-friendly toilet paper,” explains Rob Didden. “It's a very effective way for any company to profile itself, particularly in a country like Spain that has, until now, not put much emphasis on sustainability. End-users also play an important role in setting an example for others. We hope that the Satino Black tile will also have a positive impact on the clients and stakeholders of the new Spanish end-users. After all, the tile makes it clear that, as an end-user, you are serious about realizing your goals in terms of sustainability and attach a great deal of added value to eco-friendly thinking.”


For almost a week, Rob Didden worked very closely with several account managers at EurodelHarpas, the wholesale company that has been our client for 25 years now. In Madrid, they visited the  Dutch Ministery of General Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment as well as a group of selected potential end-users. “We worked as a team and succeeded in winning several significant orders. There was some scepticism beforehand about our opportunities for expansion in Spain, but we succeeded in convincing enough new clients of the power and message generated by Satino Black.”


EurodelHarpas is based in the region around the economically stronger city of Madrid. “Here, the impact of the crisis is less evident.” Via the excellent contacts maintained by our client, Didden gained an introduction to the Palacio de la Moncloa, from where Prime Minister Zapatero governs the country. “The government is an important client for Satino Black due to its role as a trendsetter for others,” explains Didden. “In terms of spreading our message, the Spanish government can help us a great deal.”


In fact, Spain has a lot of catching up to do in terms of sustainability and eco-friendly thinking. “And that means that there's a lot of potential there for us. Spain as well as Portugal will continue to be important markets for us in future. Overall awareness of hygiene is rapidly increasing, and the size of the market makes it very interesting for us. It has now become clear to us that there is definitely potential for us to expand there.”

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Widespread recognition of our outstanding market position in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility, as evidenced by the prizes and certificates we have been awarded, has led to a new shareholder investing in Van Houtum. Private equity firm Friesland Bank Investments (FBI) has purchased a majority shareholding in Van Houtum, effective retroactively from 1 January 2011. The other shares remain in the hands of the management.


FBI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Friesland Bank N.V. and its mission is to invest in medium-sized Dutch businesses that are led by strong and ambitious management. Each investment is based on a clear strategy that is endorsed by both management and the shareholders. FBI is an active shareholder that supports management in implementing that strategy without getting actively involved in operations. FBI’s strategic plan perfectly matches the ideas and goals of Van Houtum’s management.


FBI’s investment will make it possible for Van Houtum to continue to grow in the future. A new paper machine will be purchased in the near future. This resolves a longstanding need for greater and high quality production capacity. Installation of the new paper machine will allow Van Houtum to significantly scale up the production of Satino Black in particular, the first and only Cradle to Cradle certified hygienic paper in the world. This step will substantially increase the share of the world’s first environmentally friendly toilet and hand towel paper in Van Houtum’s total production, thereby confirming once again Van Houtum’s position as a leading proponent of Corporate Social Responsibility.


This change in the shareholding structure not only creates a solid financial base for Van Houtum, it also ensures operational management continuity. Henk van Houtum will transfer his current responsibilities to Bas Gehlen during the coming two years. Afterwards Henk van Houtum will remain involved in the company.

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More and more European governments strive to achieve sustainability. Frans Jacobs, our account manager for Belgium and Luxembourg: “An example; if you read the memorandum called Experience by Inspiration (Ervaring door Inspiratie) written by the Flemish Minister of Habitat, Nature and Culture (Leefmilieu, Natuur en Cultuur), Joke Schauvliege, you will find many similarities with the messages we put on the Satino Black toilet tile.”

One of the passages in the Flemish memorandum reads as follows: ‘We strive to implement eco-efficient production and recycle waste to the maximum possible extent. The use of waste as a valuable raw material for our economy is a focal area in the planned extension of waste policy and in the expansion programme for our green economy’.

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Frans Jacobs: “I see this as a reference to the FSC-Recycled and Cradle to Cradle symbols on our toilet tile. We use that tile to support our customers in communicating their sustainability policy. By placing the tile in the toilet areas, customers encourage awareness of and commitment to the concept of sustainability among employees and visitors.”


“Curiosity about our philosophy is growing in the market”, Jacobs continues, “we are receiving more and more spontaneous enquiries about the Satino Black concept. Sustainability is worthwhile, that's something that more and more people are coming to realise.”


Jacobs sometimes uses the Flemish memorandum when hosting visits by customers from Belgium and Luxembourg. “We cannot yet assume that everybody is familiar with the Cradle to Cradle principle, it still requires explanation. Customers who visit us for a day are brought up to date with our philosophy of doing business in a sustainable way. The theory always precedes practical implementation, but I see signs that green ideas and sustainability are increasingly spreading throughout Europe.”


There is also increasing demand for Satino Black hygienic paper in Belgium. Jacobs: “It is a very appealing and unique concept, still the only hygienic paper in the world that is both CO2 neutral and also produced en tegeltje_webaccording to Cradle to Cradle principles. It's good to know that we operate in the way the Flemish government favours. Our customers can only benefit from that exposure.”


He refers to the memorandum again. ‘The government will reduce its own environmental footprint and focus more on its task of setting a good example and exploit its influence as a major market player in order to encourage eco-friendly initiatives’. “This is almost literally the same message as on our tile. Increasingly more sustainable, that is exactly what the Flemish government wants.”

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