Niko, the Belgian leader in switching material and home automation, has won the East Flanders Environmental Charter for the 17th time in a row. The Sint-Niklaas-based company was once again rewarded for its sustainable policy, which is reflected in all aspects of its corporate processes. This year, its efforts were related to water and energy savings, minimal use of hazardous products and efficient waste collection.

The East Flanders Environmental Charter, an initiative of Voka - East Flanders Chamber of Commerce, aims to encourage businesses to pursue an active environmental policy, leading to improvements in the regional living environment. This environmentally-friendly approach is a fundamental part of Niko's corporate philosophy. Some examples from 2017:

Ecological alternatives to hazardous products

In an effort to minimise the use of hazardous products, Niko set up a project with Eco-Point in 2017. This company is unique thanks to its ecologically responsible alternatives for harmful products used in maintenance and cleaning. Together with Eco-Point, Niko sources bio-based alternatives, such as ecological degreasers, cleaning and stripping products, in order to minimise the use of hazardous products in the various production departments.

Rational use of water and energy

Several years ago, the water purification system in Niko's electroplating department was enhanced, to limit water contamination. A recent study into recycling rinse water revealed that the quantities of discharged water within this department can be reduced by half. This represents an annual saving of 9,500 m³ of rinse water. The energy consumption in the factory is also kept to a minimum thanks to the use of motion detectors, LED lighting and other targeted actions. Thanks to the Energy Management System of the company's subsidiary Fifthplay, energy consumption is closely monitored and adjusted when necessary. A user-friendly, internet-based interface ensures that the energy consumption in the various buildings and offices can be managed with unrivalled precision.

Efficient waste collection

In the production departments, waste instructions provide clear information about the various waste flows and how they should be collected. That way, these flows can subsequently be optimised for re-use, recycling and processing with energy recovery, among other things.

Continuing efforts towards optimisation

Niko is taking its sustainable policy a step further in 2018. Tested products from the project with Eco-Point will be used for the first time in the production departments, and new tests are in progress. In addition, Niko is carrying out joint research with the KU Leuven into innovative plastic recycling techniques, and targeted actions to rationalise energy consumption within the factory are being further optimised.

"Sustainable policy and environmental awareness is an essential part of our overall business strategy", explains Dirk D’haese, Environmental Coordinator at Niko. "Not only through the ecological choices we make in the various phases of the production process, but also because we manufacture products for residential use which help minimise energy consumption, such as Niko Home Control. We consciously go further than the requirements of Belgian environmental laws.”

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