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For the Japanese company Matsubayashi business sustainability means engaging in business activities or offering customers lifecycle-conscious products and services that lead to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of the environment. Corporate sustainability is an important element of the company’s mid- to long-term business growth. Management then focuses on formulating short or mid-to long-term targets.
The company’s mid-to long-term sales and profit targets include for instance occupational safety and health as well as environmental and labor practices. In terms of the environment, as Matsubayashi is a specialized trading company dealing with the sales of industrial chemical and construction materials, the company’s goal is to improve efficiency of electricity usage rather than the reduction of energy consumption. By doing so, the company can achieve both sales targets and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“CSR is not a corporate task but an effective investment for the future”
The most important sustainability area where the company could make progress is the clarification of labor and fair business practices. The company considers it very important to show its clear intent and commitment to human rights and labor practices as people tend to make obscure references about these in Japan. This is also highlighted by the company top management’s statement that “CSR is not a corporate but an effective investment for the future”.
Implementing this business strategy and subsequent sustainability or remedial measures requires not only the involvement of top management but also of key figures in the chemical sales division. Matsubayashi appreciated the meaningful education on occupational health and safety from a TfS Member company. This was considered critical in obtaining recognition of the importance of sustainability and associated measures. Subsequently Matsubayashi developed “Action Guidelines” to improve the quality of its sustainability performance and published them in and outside the company.
A sustainability approach with realistic objectives and measures
Going the sustainability route, what advice could Matsubayashi give to other market players? First, the company fosters a CSR approach with realistic targets and measures. This is critical, if not the company’s sustainability approach will only become an “armchair philosophy”. Therefore, Matsubayashi participated in a TfS Assessment that focuses on the company’s sustainability performance regarding the environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable material procurement. This participation resulted in an EcoVadis scorecard that forms the basis of a constructive dialogue between chemical company and supplier to further improve the sustainability performance. Also, as a company it is important to take countermeasures under legal requirements, company policies and other certifications.
A sustained commitment to contributing to a sustainable society
The next step in the sustainability strategy is to enhance employee education and strengthen the distribution center. The company has been working on compliance with national laws and regulations or industry standards concerning chemical substance management, fair trade and ethics through effective use of the environmental and quality management systems (ISO14001 & ISO9001). In addition, Matsubayashi wants to further strengthen CSR perspectives such as information security and social contribution and implement CSR procurement relating to sustainability. They will actively promote their efforts toward the development of a sustainable society through practicing and strengthening fair and impartial transactions.
TfS thanks Mr Tsutomu Suzuki and Mr Kazutoshi Sakaki for their contribution to this article.
MATSUBAYASHI CO., LTD. is a Japanese sales trading company of industrial chemicals and construction materials. Employing 53 people, the company has a yearly turnover of €100,000,000. Matsubayashi is a relative newcomer in sustainability.