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Coroplast Global | Insights A task for the future – Natalie Mekelburger in interview

For many German companies, bringing sustainability together with innovative products and solutions is one of the key tasks for future success. In this interview, Natalie Mekelburger tells us what measures the Coroplast Group is taking regarding sustainability and how it affects our company culture.
Photo of Natalie Mekelburger in a shop floor of the Coroplast Group
Natalie Mekelburger has been with the Coroplast Group since 1994 and has served as President and CEO since 2006.

 

Mrs. Mekelburger, what do innovation and sustainability mean for the Coroplast Group?

For us, innovation and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. The work we do on a daily basis has always been geared towards supporting innovation through active entrepreneurship and, as a responsible family company, we always aim to take our employees, surroundings, and environment into consideration. Thus, in our last planning meeting, we used these two terms as our guiding principles and we checked the entire organization to see where we are at with our innovations. The results were impressive: in all three business units, we already have numerous products, for example products for sustainable e-mobility. We have also been able to offer our customers customers recently developed products in the area circular economy. Currently, we are working on tailoring our processes to make them more sustainable. Of course, there is a lot of room for improvement. Our sustainability team is just starting out on this long and intense journey.

Everything that could lead us to the next step, to an innovative idea cannot be strictly regulated. Most of these ideas are lying dormant inside our employees and simply need to be awoken, so that they do not go to waste.

Natalie Mekelburger | President and CEO of the Coroplast Group

Which measures specifically is the sustainability team working on?

In additional to the structural and organizational measures, such as regular reporting, ratings, and creating a CO2 balance, the team has been given the task of following what is happening on site, sharing their thoughts with the management team responsible, and making suggestions for improvement. To do this, of course it is essential that the company culture promotes free thinking and creativity.

Natalie Mekelburger in conversation
Natalie Mekelburger attaches great importance to an open corporate culture.

How can this type of company culture be fostered?

Besides the important standards and rules that we simply need for many processes within our company and which we need to place great value on – such as safety-related issues – it’s important that we never let ourselves be deterred from thinking outside the box. Everything that could lead us to the next step, to an innovative idea cannot be strictly regulated. Most of these ideas are lying dormant inside our employees and simply need to be awoken, so that they do not go to waste. Of course, the big innovations are not something that happens on a daily basis and they are especially hard to institutionalize. But that is exactly why we need to create a culture that supports free thinking and bold action, which incidentally also means allowing mistakes to be made in the beginning. Elon Musk said it well: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Natalie Mekelburger in an exchange with several employees as part of the so-called Terrace Talks
At the so-called terrace talks, Natalie Mekelburger learns in a relaxed atmosphere and at first hand what moves the workforce.

Are innovations only created internally?

No, innovation does not mean that we ourselves have to be the ones creating it. Coroplast has taken several steps in this direction lately. We are collaborating with the Ruhr University Bochum, “Visionlabs” at the University of Wuppertal, and with a Fraunhofer institute. In the area of sustainability, we support the Circular Valley initiative, a start-up accelerator with an exciting network of businesses and organizations involved in circular economy activities. But we also need to prioritize the involvement of our young trainees and those just beginning their careers here at Coroplast. They have refreshing approaches and perspectives, and, thanks to their digital skills, they bring a lot of knowledge into the company before their training even begins. In keeping with this idea, we recently organized a second pitch competition for our trainees that produced rather exciting results. There is a lot of potential and knowledge here; we just have to recognize and use it!

Your contact person Media Contact

Do you have any questions about the company, require further information or images? Then get in touch with us – we will be happy to answer any press inquiries you may have about the Coroplast Group at any time.
Martin Uebele
Principal Policy and Public Affairs