European Logistics Association rewards Agfa Graphics​

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At the Gala Award Event in Brussels, the jury of the ELA announced that Agfa Graphics’ project “Sustainability through recycling via collaborative supply chain” received the ELA Award for best presentation 2016. The project about the implementation of a circular economy model for aluminum was one of six nominees.

The project is a very good example of supply chain collaboration within the networked organization. This project stands out because of the number of areas in the supply chain that were involved: from purchasing and suppliers over sales to customers, as well as diverse outside partners.

The European Award for Logistics Excellence, organized by ELA (European Logistics Association) is the champions league competition for the logistics sector in Europe, only accessible to winners of national awards from associations affiliated to ELA. At the end of 2015, Agfa Graphics was honored with the Belgian Supply Chain Award for the same project.

With the ‘Project of the Year’ Award, ELA aims to bring supply chain projects under the attention of management and executives in companies and government organizations. It should stimulate them to invest more in projects that improve the efficiency of supply chain processes.

Agfa Graphics’ project involves the supply of aluminum printing plates, which are vital consumables to the offset printing industry. Agfa Graphics is a world-leading supplier of such plates, which represent more than 60% of its turnover.

With the project, Agfa Graphics and a number of partners in the supply chain of printing plates presented a sustainable closed-loop solution to its high-volume customers in which high-grade aluminum can be reused without value loss.

An evaluation of the carbon footprint of printing plates showed first evidence that it is primarily impacted by the production of the aluminum itself. The study demonstrated, however, that today’s recycling methods allow for the use of recycled printing plates in the plate production process. This reduces the total carbon footprint with 70%, provided that the plates are carefully sent back to the aluminum manufacturer after use on the printing presses.

“This LCA study inspired us to develop and implement a new circular supply chain for printing plates aiming at a process that is both financially and environmentally sustainable for all parties involved,” said Geert Lammens, Vice President Operations, Agfa Graphics. “This resulted in a collaborative supply chain model between Agfa Graphics, which took the lead as a solution provider, and its aluminum suppliers, its logistics partners and its customers.”

The closed-loop approach guarantees that the aluminum is not uncontrollably downcycled, yet instead maintains its intrinsic value as much as possible.

“The system is being internationally rolled out in the market with printing companies that have the appropriate volume of aluminum and the ability to participate in such closed-loop approach. It all fits with the targets of the European Commission to turn the European economic activities more and more into a circular economy model,” Geert Lammens added. “Being rewarded with the prize of the European logistics audience is an honor for the whole team.”

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