Clear focus on the environment
Veritas management and staff care for the environment, and have carried out several environment-oriented projects throughout the years and adopted an Environment Policy in 2018. In the wake of that policy, the Veritas Environment Committee was appointed. Veritas’ and subsidiaries' Environment Policy's goal is that our group of companies release as little pollution as possible into the environment, reducing our environmental impact, and our usage of natural resources. The main sections of our Environment Policy are eco-friendly transport, eco-friendly procurement, waste sorting/recycling, and optimisation of operational procedures. Our Environment Policy is periodically reviewed with the aim of reinforcing ever more our positive impact on the environment. Veritas’ Environment Committee is responsible for making sure that our Environment Policy is adhered to.
2021 group's overall emissions were 810 tons CO₂
2020 group's overall emissions were 726 tons CO₂
Year over year
In 2021, an audit of waste management and sorting/recycling was conducted in cooperation with Pure North Recycling. The aim was to diagnose opportunities to boost the life cycle of raw materials used in our operations. The audit revealed opportunities for recycling raw materials such as cardboard and plastic. As a result of the audit, Distica’s warehouses started using a packer waste press for both plastic and cardboard. The audit also revealed that the recycling ratio within our group of companies was miscalculated for last year due to inconsistency in the data from service providers as well plain miscalculation. This demonstrates how important it is to have an external, independent party to audit our data to build up correct premises for the future.
For this reason, it should be noted that all results for CO2 emissions are corrected in this report compared to the outcomes published for 2020. All calculations were made based on Festa - Centre for Sustainability’s Climate Indicators version 5.0. A project was started aiming at analysing the transport routes for the products exported via airfreight by our suppliers. The overall outcomes regarding CO2 emissions for 2020 revealed that 202 tons were associated to good imports via airfreight. The analyses also revealed that there are opportunities to considerably reduce emissions in co-operation with our suppliers and changes in the transport routes. Co-operation and mutual understanding are needed all along the value chain in order to cut emissions. Many aspects have to be considered, in many cases it is necessary to import products quickly to Iceland to maintain good service to our customers. We focused on opportunities which would not increase the risk of shortage of crucial medical devices or medicinal products.
Stefán Karl Sævarsson, business development at MEDOR
Overall carbon emissions
Our group of companies' overall emissions was 810 tons CO2 in 2021, most of it was attributed to petrol consumption (323 tons CO2). Hence, the overall emissions increased by 12% in 2021, from 726 tons CO2 in 2020 to 810 tons in 2021. Increased fuel consumption, imports via airfreight, and domestic product distribution were responsible for the most emissions, equivalent to 699 tons in 2021. Our group of companies expanding operations and the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the supply chain of health care products imported to Iceland. There is much room for improvement for our group of companies, both regarding car fleet replacement and reduction of airfreight imports.
Overall emissions associated with staff air travel was 32 tons CO2 in 2021. Staff air travel has been significantly reduced during past two years, in part because of the travel restrictions imposed by Covid-19. A minor increase was seen in air travel during 2021, but still a significant reduction in emissions was realized compared to 2019, equivalent to 100 tons (69%).
- Overall emissions from the transport of imported goods was 343 tons CO2 in 2021. Airfreight imports stand for 236 tons CO2 of the overall emissions. Overall emissions in 2020 from freight of purchase products were 302 tons CO2, which means an increase in emissions by 14% in 2021. That increase can be traced to our expanding operations as well as to the constant shortage of products caused by the pandemics. Delayed shipments and increased demand meant that we had to resort more often to express airfreight shipment in order to service the health care marketplace in Iceland. That is the reason behind the higher percentage of airfreight imports year over year. Hence, we failed to reach our goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 15% last year.
Emissions of CO2 associated with imports is correlated to the distance from origin, and the volume of the shipment. We assume that emissions with airfreight is 20 times higher than with sea freight. Data shows emissions for all products imported by our group of companies. However, 63% of carbon emissions correspond to goods imports where the suppliers are responsible for the freight. Further analyses were conducted by Vistor and MEDOR, where relatively few suppliers are responsible for airfreight of products. We are already engaging and cooperating with our suppliers to find new solutions and change the import routes wherever possible.
"In the future, we can strive ever more to procure eco-friendlier products and demand that from our suppliers. We also have to increase our awareness on the kind of product we purchase. Airfreight is very carbon emission-intensive. Our business trips also has a very high impact, as we usually travel a lot to take part in trade fairs and business meetings. This is something where can directly make a difference. We can focus on importing more products with sea freight instead of airfreight, as well as cutting down our business trips. Many meetings can take place via video conferencing. Airfreight is only resorted to in case a medicine is needed with urgency, or where something misfires throughout the supply chain. Sometimes, e.g. when we are purchasing a small volume from a new supplier, airfreight is more advantageous. Airfreight is preferred in those cases,” says Brynjúlfur Gudmundsson, General Manager, Artasan.
The overall emissions depends on Veritas volume of business. To facilitate comparing emissions from year to year, the adopted parameter is the emission of CO2 per employee. In 2021, emissions were 3.2 tons per employee, an increase of 8% year on year.
Green energy opportunities
Árið 2021 var heildarfjöldi ökutækja samstæðunnar 88 bílar og jókst heildareldsneytisnotkun um 9% á milli ára sem þýðir að kolefnislosun vegna ökutækja úr 297 tonnum í 323 tonn. Á miðju ári 2020 var ákveðið að fara í eigin dreifingu á vörum innan höfuðborgarsvæðisins til þess að auka þjónustu við viðskiptavini. Það er meginástæðan fyrir þessari aukningu í eldsneytisnotkun en einnig er aukning hjá öllum fyrirtækjum samstæðunnar á árinu.
Eitt af meginmarkmiðum Veritas er að tryggja að orkunotkun sé haldið í lágmarki og leitast er við að draga úr mengun í allri starfsemi. Losun á CO2 vegna notkunar á rafmagni og heitu vatni hjá Veritas samstæðunni var í heild 17 tonn eða um 2% af heildarlosun samstæðunnar og er öll orka til húshitunar græn orka. Losun samstæðunnar hverju sinni er háð umfangi starfseminnar og takmörkuð tækifæri eru til að draga úr losun fyrir þessa liði. Nánast enginn munur er á rafmagnsnotkun á milli ára en notkun á heitu vatni hjá samstæðunni jókst um 30% á milli ára.
Our indirect emissions, i.e. third-party products/services emissions, and own products/services emissions are accounted for in part in this report. Those include product import and distribution, waste processing, and air flights (both domestic and international).
Atli Dagur Pétursson, warehouse employee at Distiica
Use of materials
In 2018, we invested in reusable boxes for transporting the products distributed to our customers. Disposable foam boxes are only used in exceptional cases. Padding used to protect the products are reused to their maximum extent. Most commonly used materials are cardboard and bubble wrap. Procurement of plastic bags, stretch wrap, and bubble wrap was considerably reduced year over year.
Carbon footprint offset
Veritas has entered into an agreement with Kolviður - The Iceland Carbon Fund for carbon footprint offseting of our car fleet. Veritas group of companies' carbon footprint in 2021 before offset was 821 tons CO2. Veritas group of companies planted 275 trees in cooperation with its staff, thereby offsetting 323 tons CO2, all of it related to fuel consumption. Our group of companies’ goal for 2021 was to do even better and the offsetting percentage reached 50% (411 tons). Therefore, our group of companies' overall carbon footprint in 2021 was 410 tons CO2.
Our calculations are based on average offset per year per tree - not taking into account an offset period up to 60 years as calculated by Kolviður. Hence, our calculations assume a certain offset per year which qualifies as assets for financial accounting purposes, not only once as calculated by Kolviður. We base our calculations on the mixed reforestation species adopted by Kolviður.
The "Recycloctober" Campaign
In 2018, Veritas started a campaign aiming at bringing recycling and waste sorting to the next level. The campaign was successful in improving our waste sorting. Since 2018, we run the annual "Recycloctober" campaign, dedicating the whole month of October to boost education and reinforcing waste management, if necessary, but also to raise general awareness among our staff to waste sorting and the environment. In recent years, an external consultant has been visiting our premises, providing consultation on waste sorting. After that, each subsidiary takes charge of their own sorting and recycling. During the "Recycloctober" campaign, we organise face-to-face educational sessions, and post frequent updates on Workplace about waste sorting and the environment. We resort to a mix of seriousness and lightness to get the attention of our staff. The character "Rubishanna", created by Sonja B. Guðfinnsdóttir, was born during the "Recycloctober" campaign a few years ago.
"We had no particular plans for Rubishanna: Her videos last year were something spontaneous, as I just cannot help it when I have silly ideas like that one. I love conveying messages in a positive and humorous way, both to disseminate education and to give people some food for thought. It is nice to have the freedom to give life to one's own ideas, even though the pharmaceutical side of my job always have priority. But, if there is time for a little fun, then I enjoy giving it a try. There are no plans for Rubishanna's future, as she has not been formally hired by Veritas Environment Committee," Sonja B. Guðfinnsdóttir explains.
Rabbits and fish stew
We strive hard to reduce food waste, and staff education is a crucial part of getting everyone dancing to the same tune. Veritas cafeteria has set the tone when it comes to the implementation of our environmental goals. Our staff eats and meets in a bright and nice canteen with a view over Mt. Esja. Our master chef, Jón Elvar Hafsteinsson, is unwavering in attempting new and exciting ways to minimise food waste.
"I use our ingredients pretty well and create new, funny, and unexpected dishes. One of our most popular dishes is made from excess ingredients which ended up in the freezer. I am talking about our fish stew which is made of first-rate ingredients, usually potatoes and fish. I make fish stew once a month using those fine ingredients which are leftovers from when we serve fish once a week. When one of my sous chefs started baking her incredibly delicious rye bread, fish stew became even more popular. In my opinion it is a healthy policy in itself but we need to follow established food safety guidelines. However, the key point is: You should never have to throw away nice ingredients which are fit to use," says Jón Elvar Hafsteinsson, master chef.
"We sort and keep salad waste to give it to rabbit farmers who use it as a fodder for their rabbits. If not used otherwise, rice leftovers are also used by chicken farmers. We strive to maximise our food as much as possible. As an example, a few years ago, we decided to offer our staff the opportunity to take excess food home in take-out containers on Fridays. The initiative was very appreciated, Jón Elvar concludes.
Ólöf Ása, product reception at Distica warehouse
Recycling ratio compared to previous year(s)
Íslenska gámafélagið (ÍGF) provides Veritas with a full array of waste management services. In 2019, ÍGF started exporting household refuse to Europe for energy production. Therefore, no refuse ÍGF collects from Veritas is disposed in landfills.
Veritas set a goal of increasing garbage sorting, and to promote re-use and recycling. Our benchmark is to keep a minimum 50% recycling ratio. Recycling has improved with united efforts but we still have many miles to go. Our group of companies’ recycling ratio fell from 52% to 50% year over year, demonstrating that are lots of potential to increase the ratio and that we can indeed do better. By mid-2021 we started co-operating with Pure North Recycling, bringing us the chance to recycle plastic better and boosting the life cycle of raw materials we use. An audit conducted by Pure North Recycling of Veritas waste management revealed errors in data and data processing in our previous report. As a result, our recycling ratio was lower than the figures then published suggested. The outcome of the audit was that there is a window of opportunity to better recycle raw material waste, thereby boosting the life cycle of raw materials we use. In the wake of the audit, we started using a packer waste press to bundle cardboard boxes and plastic in our Miðhraun warehouse, with the aim of better providing materials for recycling.
Assessment of supplier environmental impact
Veritas has the ambition to provide only established, high-quality products from manufacturers which comply with the most stringent quality requirements. It is important to try and impact suppliers in a positive way, but the relative size of our group of companies by international standards limits the extent of our impact. On the other hand, many of Veritas suppliers are world leaders as sustainability is concerned, and their focus is more and more on improvement in terms of sustainability and social responsibility both internally and externally. Resellers have also started to make demands and reject products with excessive or environmentally unfriendly packaging. In other words, sustainability is becoming ever more important within our supply chain.
"To be able to state that our products are products are manufactured in an eco-friendly fashion, it is crucial for our marketing activities that our manufacturers strive to cut their manufacture and distribution emissions. It is easier to market products like this. If it is a question of choosing between products A and B, the message will always sound better for A if it is the more sustainable product. We have not adopted any proviso in our supplier assessment check-list regarding social responsibility, but we show a deeper interest for biological, co-friendly products and the like. We also show a deeper interest for products which create value for us, and we usually highlight in our sales approach that our products or their packaging are sustainable," says Brynjúlfur Guðmundsson, General Manager, Artasan.
"We took a very positive step in 2020 regarding our suppliers. When selecting our business partners, we look closely into how they fulfil their social responsibilities. This is actually the apex of our business actions last year. We are not satisfied only by financially advantageous proposals. We also send a questionnaire to our business partners whereby they have to provide answers on how they fulfil their social responsibilities. In my opinion, this is a hugely progressive step. The fact is that our business partners are helping us in our pathway to become a corporation which demonstrates social responsibility, with a bigger impact on the community than before," says Arnar Thórdarson, General Manager, Vistor.
Veritas adopted a goal to increase its ratio of paperless business, provided all quality requirements are met. Our goal is to minimise printing by reducing it year by year.
There was a 3% increase in the number of printed pages in 2021 vs. 2020. That is explained by our expanding operations and by the fact that electronic receipt of goods has not yet become a reality. We adopted last year a series of improvements to our operational procedures to reduce printing. However, 80% of the volume is due to warehouses, invoicing, and quality control requirements. Last year’s improvements in this regard consisted of the implementation of electronic signatures, increased paperless communications both internally and externally, and a sharper focus on electronic data storage.
It is crucial for Veritas that our provider of janitorial services also holds the environment in high regard. We reached an agreement with Dagar, a Nordic Swan Eco-labelled cleaning services provider with a good record in their sustainability pathway. Dagar is also a member of Festa Centre for Sustainability and a Creditinfo Model Company. Dagar appointed an internal social responsibility working group.
Veritas’ group of companies performs quite well as far as several factors of sustainability and social responsibility are concerned. Nevertheless, Veritas management and staff agree there is still room to improve. Environmental issues are the ones requiring most focus and changes, therefore this subject will be central for our group of companies in the coming years, as stated in our short-term and long-term goals. Veritas management has also been pondering on how the concept of a ‘recirculating system’ applies to our business.
"We can consider better analysing the materials in our devices from a recirculating system's perspective. Is it possible to reuse more? How do old devices end or terminate? We can always take the environment more and more into account, as we use a variety of materials in our operations. Given the nature of our business, much of our devices are tailor-made for individuals to match their requirements. However, we can always contemplate how our materials can be either reused or recycled.", says Ólafía Ása Jóhannesdóttir, General Manager, Stoð.
Responsible disposal of medicines
The 2021 Recycloctober was dedicated to educating our staff about the responsible disposal of medicines. Procedures for the disposal of medicines are clear: All medicinal products must be disposed of according to strict requirements laid down by the Icelandic authorities. All medicines to be disposed of are shipped to Kalka Disposal Plant in Suðurnes for incineration. Kalka is the only company in Iceland accredited by The Environment Agency of Iceland to dispose of medicines.
Almost 15 thousand kilos of medicines and other products were disposed of in 2021, representing a significant increase year on year. The volume was expected to increase in 2021, as fewer batches were shipped for incineration in 2020 due to Covid-19.