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Lucy Chard
25 Sep 2023

CPHI Barcelona Sustainability Partner Interview – Rontis' mindful management

Rontis Corporation, a leading supplier in the healthcare industry worldwide, has partnered with CPHI Barcelona to support sustainability initiatives, to be highlighted at the CPHI Worldwide event in Barcelona in October 2023. 

In the following interview, Anastasios Politopoulos (Tasos), Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Rontis Corporation, gives us an insight into Rontis' vision for the future of sustainable healthcare. Tasos will also be a part of the unmissable panel on sustainability at CPHI Barcelona. 

Please could you introduce yourself and your role at Rontis? 

My name is Anastasios Politopoulos and I am proud to carry the role of the Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Rontis Corporation. My educational background is in economics, finance, and strategic management. After obtaining professional experience in family business and later in the investment banking field, I decided to move to the medical devices industry and more specifically the dental, orthopaedics and wider capital equipment sectors carrying multiple sales positions initially and later moving to management roles, which allowed me to obtain understanding of both direct and indirect models of promotion and distribution on the one hand, and business development in emerging markets’ reality on the other. I joined Rontis 12 years ago. I have held three different positions within this organisation and as per my current duties, I have responsibility for the pharmaceutical side of our business, allowing me to come closer to the pharma industry and its particular demands. I am excited to discuss challenges that are strategically applicable to every function and division of our organisation – the achievement of economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

Could you please outline Rontis’ commitments and targets for sustainability? 

Rontis' commitment to sustainability, or "Green Impact" as we tend to refer to, is reflected in our corporate sustainability report, which highlights the company's efforts to minimise its environmental impact, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency, encourage waste reduction, and promote responsible environmental waste utilisation.

In the area of environmental policy, Rontis has established an ambitious program aimed at reducing waste, managing water consumption, and reducing air and ground pollution. The company has also implemented innovative technologies to achieve these objectives, particularly in its efforts to promote "Moving forward Manufacturing" practices.

Regarding climate change mitigation, Rontis has set up comprehensive and transparent procedures to measure and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to share that we have achieved significant reductions in overall emissions, with an 11% reduction from 2021 to 2022 and a further 40% reduction expected from 2022 to the target year of 2023.

Furthermore, Rontis practices "mindful sourcing" in its sustainable procurement policies, which include responsible sourcing and supplier assessments to promote ethical and sustainable practices throughout the supply chain.
In addition, by integrating sustainable practices into workplace (“People First”), Rontis aims not only to promote a health and safety culture, protect its employees from immediate hazards and implement ethical labour practices, but also to ensure long-term well-being, and foster an inclusive and diverse working environment.
Rontis also leverages a "safe and secure" approach in order to monitor and report on energy consumption and savings, engage employees and stakeholders in energy conservation efforts, and identify opportunities for energy efficiency.

The company's objectives that are set related to energy efficiency in particular are the following: reduction of energy consumption, lowering the carbon footprint and promoting energy conservation in all operations. 

Rontis strategies to meet the above objectives include amongst others: 

-    Identifying opportunities for energy efficiency and executing measures that result in energy savings
-    Engaging employees and stakeholders in energy conservation efforts, recognising that the collective efforts of all members of our organisation are essential for success
-    Providing training to our employees to raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation and how to achieve energy reduction goals through small changes in daily behaviour
-    Monitoring and reporting on our energy consumption and savings to identify areas where further improvements can be made

Overall, Rontis' sustainability approach demonstrates the company's dedication to minimising its environmental impact, promoting sustainability, and complying with environmental protection laws and guidelines.

Rontis states that it is important to limit climate impacts when developing new products, could you please explain why this is so important and what strategies you are using to achieve this? 

Each individual product offering has a different position at the product life cycle management. Inevitably, products that have been invented or designed or launched years ago by Rontis, do follow somehow different standards, a different mentality to put it better, a different reality when they were developed and launched as well as a different prioritisation scope when it comes to sustainability and environmental policy. 
We have to admit that a couple of years ago we did look at the world through different lenses. It is as simple as that. For example, it is not that many years ago that we were distributing massive quantities of hard copies of marketing material and brochures during exhibitions like this one, would you agree? Do you recall? Things have changed a lot since then. 
Nowadays at Rontis we have made it a priority to take a tougher approach on new products that are about to be launched, in order to ensure that these new products that enter our widened and future product offering and should be around for quite some time will have a more environmentally friendly footprint and will raise the bar versus what we used to apply. This way we ensure that each addition to our portfolio adds to this continuous improvement. This does not imply that we ignore what Rontis has already placed in the market. We are in parallel looking for improvement initiatives and ways to make retrospective changes that take a more contemporary look at the products developed years ago.

What role does ethics play in making businesses more sustainable? 

Rontis is a people-centric organisation that is “made from people to serve other people”. In 2023, Rontis celebrates 37 years since its establishment, and we acknowledge that the driving force of our company’s growth is our people. We take pride in our commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, stakeholders, and the communities in which we operate. The "Labor, Health and Safety" section of our Corporate Sustainability Report outlines our policies and measures in place to ensure fair labour practices, promote a safe working environment, and foster career growth for our employees.

We strive to maintain a working environment that supports and protects our employees, with policies in place for health and safety, working conditions, and labour relations. Additionally, we take measures to promote employee satisfaction, such as our Rontis employee loyalty program, and regularly assess and report on our progress. As part of our commitment to ethics and integrity, we have also implemented policies and awareness training to prevent bribery, corruption and misconduct. Through these efforts, we aim to promote a culture of safety, respect, and collaboration, and we look forward to continuing to invest in our employees and their well-being.

We tend to connect sustainability to the environmental impact, while ethical behaviour is connected to the human role.

All studies demonstrate that companies that apply ethical behaviours have higher returns and are more successful in the long run. As such, within Rontis, ethical behaviour and encouragement in our daily business practices does have a strong connection with a long-term ethical view of our wider company positioning. We do focus on the ethical handling of daily operations to enable our people to apply a similar filtering when shaping our company’s involvement in our communities. What is ethical does remain sustainable and this could work the other way round also.

How are you using technology and biotechnology to progress more sustainably? 

The increased utilisation of technology in our operations helps us progress in a sustainable manner. The way we perceive technology contribution is capital equipment related on the one hand and internal processes related on the other. Multiple examples to share concerning technology contribution towards achieving sustainable outcomes within the “Rontis World”. 

First things first though. We proceeded with change of the previously used fuel type (diesel) towards a more environmentally friendly type (LPG). Aside this, we are in a continuous process of building isolation for the purposes of reducing the external environmental effect and controlling temperature fluctuations while avoiding increased energy consumption to maintain a stable internal temperature. Finally, the increased use of recycling packaging materials helped us set the ground for Rontis’ move towards more sustainable operations.

Once tackling the above, the time came for more “advanced” technology utilisation towards a sustainable daily modus operandi within our company. We have proceeded with installation of multiple new software applications for the purpose of reducing hard copies of documentation exchanged internally as well as filing load. Another example is the replacement of all conventional lights with high efficiency LED panels. We have also invested in optimising our lighting systems by installing motion sensors and using daylight whenever possible. This action not only reduces energy usage, but also improves our people’s working environment. 

Rontis has recently acquired state-of-the-art production machines that epitomise technological advancement and operational efficiency. These cutting-edge machines, meticulously chosen for their superior performance, boast a myriad of benefits including significantly lower energy consumption, reduced waste generation, and decreased noise emissions. With their advanced features and optimised design, these new production machines combine streamlined operations with environmental impact minimisation.

A new Building Management System (BMS) was installed during 2022, which controls and operates in a sustainable and effective manner the HVAC system, ensuring proper environmental conditions in the most efficient way.

Another example of technology helping towards a more sustainable way of working is the leverage of the Cloud for our IT facilities. With the migration of most of our systems to cloud-based platforms, we have significantly reduced our carbon footprint by minimising the need for on-site infrastructure, optimising energy consumption, and slashing electronic waste. The cloud empowers us to scale resources efficiently, eliminating the need for physical servers and associated maintenance. Moreover, this transition enhances remote collaboration and flexibility, enabling our employees to work seamlessly from any location, thereby reducing commuting emissions.

You’ve been awarded the silver rating from the EcoVadis 2023 sustainability rating – how key are initiatives like these in encouraging the pharma industry to hit sustainability targets? 

EcoVadis has been a great example of an opportunity to run a well thought internal self-assessment that had to be backed up with solid support evidence. I have been impressed by the energy and effort it took in order to get “all of our ducks in a row”, to get all key functions involved. I was surprised by the level of commitment that this process generated. Indeed EcoVadis is one of the credible platforms out there. There are a couple of others also. They key is to initiate an internal process of assessment and continuous improvement against key metrices. This is what sustainability is all about. Including points of reference, golden standards, and key benchmarks is inevitably going to encourage more and more of the pharma industry players to follow this healthy trend. It is going to raise the bar for all of us. One day soon such an assessment will be one of the key criteria to select suppliers or even stakeholders. This is just around the corner. I would bet on this.

Why is it do important that events like CPHI Barcelona highlight sustainability in the industry, and is there more that could be done? 

Exhibitions such as CPHI are of international calibre, with great attendance of industry players in all phases of pharma development and commercialisation along with impressive individuals’ attendance. As such, bringing sustainability at the front seat in events like this is imperative. Undoubtedly, there are so many more things that can be done. The truth is that Rome was not built in a day. As such, it takes time, effort, attention, and prioritisation. One idea, one proposal: perhaps an initiative for CPHI organisation to ask all of the exhibitors to complete a basic questionnaire (nothing too detailed and inhibiting, nothing confidential) and collect statistical evidence of basic parameters related to sustainability and then to follow the collective progress achieved by CPHI exhibitors on an annual basis. This could be one solid pharma-specific benchmark, would it not?

Any further comments? 

Integrating sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a long-term process, not a one-year project to tackle and move on. As such, my takeaway comment is that first we need to ensure internal understanding, then achieve engagement and involvement, build KPIs jointly with solid monitoring in order to move forward and deliver measurable results.

To learn more about Rontis' sustainable practices, meet with them at CPHI Barcelona 2023, STAND 5K40, INTEGRATED PHARMA - book a meeting here

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Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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