2.12.2020 Article

Throughout the value chain of Paulig’s products, the cultivation of raw materials creates by far the biggest environmental impact. This is why Anna-Leena Teppo, the Group’s new Sustainability Program Manager will first focus on the first stages of the production – strengthening the collaboration with supply partners to educate farmers and share best practices on climate-smart farming. 

“Originally, I was working on sustainability from a more general perspective. Some years ago, I actively decided to start developing my knowledge on the climate and circularity issues because I felt the world is approaching a critical point,” says Anna-Leena Teppo, Paulig’s new Sustainability Program Manager, Climate & Circularity. She joined the Group in August 2020. 

According to Teppo, transitioning towards a carbon-neutral circular economy will be a central theme for the next 10 to 15 years and its successful implementation is crucial for the future of the society. 

As Paulig is among the forerunner companies in the food industry, climate work had naturally started years before Anna-Leena Teppo’s appointment. For example, Paulig’s roastery in Vuosaari, Helsinki, was in the process of becoming carbon neutral. This had involved reducing the roastery’s emissions by an impressive 98% since 2014 – as well as, interestingly, feeding the roastery’s waste heat into Helsinki’s energy network to heat up apartments

That is a prime example of circular economy in action. 

“It was very interesting to hit the ground running and get to work. Most of the work at Vuosaari was already done when I joined; I just helped finalise the roastery’s third-party certification into a CarbonNeutral® building and offset the remaining emissions through carbon finance projects focusing on forestry projects,” Anna-Leena Teppo says. 

Everyone is committed to making the change 

On a broader scale, Anna-Leena Teppo’s main responsibility is to lead Paulig’s sustainability program focusing on climate and circularity. Her focus will be on developing and implementing group level roadmaps to carbon emission reductions and Paulig’s practices and standards in environmental calculations. 

This involves, for example, a plan to make all Paulig’s production sites carbon neutral by 2023. The larger objective is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from Paulig’s own operations by 80% and from the value chain by 50% by 2030. Paulig’s climate targets are science-based and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. 

Anna-Leena Teppo had been aware of Paulig’s ambitious climate targets even before joining the company. After joining, she was impressed to come realise how committed the teams are into achieving them. 

“Internally, the objective of becoming a sustainability forerunner by 2030 has really been heard and understood, and people radiate motivation to make this happen. It’s been very uplifting to learn.” 

When Teppo and her colleagues are working to build Paulig’s sustainability roadmaps, they will be looking at the complete value chains of main products, first focusing on emission reductions where they have the biggest impact. In practice, this means focusing on the first stages – the cultivation of raw materials. 

“Often people think that it’s the overseas transportation or packaging that has the biggest impact. But they typically account for less than 5–10 percent of the overall impact. That’s why we need to focus on the first stages of production where we are dependent on close collaboration with our supply chain partners and farmers. We need to support the farmers through education and best practice sharing on climate-smart farming.” 

In alignment with circular-economy thinking, this may for example mean applying nutrient-enriching biochar to soil, reducing the need for fertilisers and sequestering carbon at the same time.   

Anna-Leena Teppo 2

Career: Anna-Leena Teppo has Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Economics and Business Administration from University of Vaasa, and she is also PhD student. Prior to Paulig, she worked for the Finnish retailer S Group, design brand Marimekko and as a consultant. She developed her knowledge of sustainability and the circular economy in and through her work, working on strategic development of climate and circularity issues, assessment of environmental impacts of products and services and company-level climate reporting. 

Family and hobbies: Anna-Leena Teppo’s family includes her spouse and a 1.5-year-old child. Between the current world situation and being a toddler mum, Teppo hasn’t had too many chances to focus on hobbies – but she does regularly go on runs and biking. At home, she loves watching movies and TV series. Her most recent favourite is the latest season of The Crown.  

Last book you read: Kaikki elämästäni by Antti Holma. It was a fun read on the difficult theme of shame!