Eero Ståhlberg: Sustainability Needs To Be At The Core Of Strategy And Business Models

Accountability for the product from start to end-of-life becomes part of the equation, says the general manager of Neste Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

Eero Ståhlberg: Sustainability Needs To Be At The Core Of Strategy And Business Models

Humans are changing Earth on an unprecedented scale, the effects of climate change are becoming ever clearer, and if we don’t act today, a climate catastrophe is imminent. Neste, for one, is cognizant of the warning. Established in Finland in 1948 as a traditional oil company, Neste has successfully transformed itself to be a global player in renewable and circular solutions since the 2000s. Now, everyone in the company shares one common purpose – “creating a healthier planet for our children”, says Eero Ståhlberg, general manager of Neste Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

The world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel refined from waste and residues, Neste takes pride in its emphasis on production with reduced environmental impact. As worldwide efforts to tackle climate change start to intensify, Neste is accelerating its push into uncovering new approaches for a sustainable future. 

What are some of Neste’s initiatives? 

To tackle the climate crisis globally, we have committed to help our customers to reduce climate emissions by 20 million tons of CO2-eq annually by 2030. We are already halfway to fulfilling this. In 2020, our renewable and circular solutions helped reduce emissions by 10 million tons CO2-eq — equivalent to removing 3.7 million passenger cars from the roads for a full year.

We have also set ourselves a concrete milestone: to reach carbon-neutral production by 2035. Emission reduction is a fundamental requirement in our industry. To date, we have identified about 80 different measures globally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from our production process. 

What lessons have you learnt from the journey?

For companies to survive and thrive, sustainability needs to be at the core of strategy and business models across the entire value chain, from sourcing to supply. Accountability for the product from start to end-of-life becomes part of the equation, as we consider how our business will impact the climate and environment at every stage, and proactively find solutions to reduce their negative impact, all while embracing transparency. 

But achieving change requires long-term commitment and a complete transition in every area of the business, so there must also be a rewiring of the mindset both internally and externally, as well as collaboration with forward-looking partners. After all, in creating something new, securing buy-in is essential — whether it is getting people to understand new priorities, which must be fully integrated into operations, policies, metrics and objectives; or ensuring new solutions enter the market. 

Any advice for organisations looking to embed sustainable practices into their business? 

Companies could consider fostering collaborative opportunities by sharing their beliefs and sustainability approach with other stakeholders — local communities and non-profit organisations, the private sector, the government and regional institutions; leveraging innovation and creativity to transform their business and operations with more green solutions; and introducing a circular economy within your own business.

Some examples of how this can be achieved are by eliminating waste, promoting the reusage of energy and building partnerships between industries to recycle waste, like how we use fish processing waste to produce renewable diesel.

It is also an opportunity for all companies to review their existing value chains and restructure how we think about the economy. 

Art direction by Catherine Wong; photography by Darren Gabriel Leow; grooming by Angel Gwee

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