Sustainable development, cornerstone of Lee & Man Paper

17:39 | 28/11/2019
Lee & Man Paper Mfg., Ltd. has just been honoured as one of the Top 100 Sustainable Businesses 2019 in Vietnam for the second time. On this occasion, CEO Edmond Lee sat down with Phuong Hao to share about the enterprise’s efforts to improve its manufacturing chain as well as its plan to contribute more to Vietnam’s sustainable development goals.
sustainable development cornerstone of lee man paper

Edmond Lee (in the middle), CEO of Lee & Man talked with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha (left) at the event in Hanoi

There were over 500 applications from enterprises for the sustainable development award, but only 100 ones, including Lee & Man, were selected. What has Lee & Man done to receive this title?

This is the second time Lee & Man achieved the award of sustainable development. The awards are based on the Corporate Sustainability Index with 98 criteria across three main categories: the economy, environment, and society that the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) use to assess the sustainability of enterprises.

To Lee & Man, sustainable development is a direction and a goal to pursue in the long term. Therefore, we have been using cutting-edge technologies and used recycled paper to increase productivity and the quality of output. By investing in advanced production and waste treatment systems, we have saved water and protected the environment.

Particularly, we have paid attention to the material and spiritual life of workers, training them to improve the quality of the company’s human resources. We have contributed to the community by awarding scholarships to colleges as well as raising funds for kindergartens and primary schools to help children and young people in many provinces.

sustainable development cornerstone of lee man paper
Edmond Lee, CEO of Lee & Man Paper Mfg., Ltd. received the title of Top 100 Sustainable Business

Lee & Man uses technologies to optimise its operations and minimise impacts on the environment. However, in the past, Lee & Man itself was struggling with incidents of pollution. How have you changed your technologies?

Pursuing the sustainable development is quite challenging to many businesses, and Lee & Man is not different. It is true that Lee & Man experienced challenges in the environmental field when we set up a new factory in Hau Giang. It was a precious lesson that helped us adjust and learn to be more careful with our production and waste treatment system.

We have invested a total of $80 million in the factory, including the construction and installation of the monitoring system, biological lakes and wastewater treatment system. After treatment, water will be kept in a pool for three days to check if it is clean and safe enough. So far, our answer has proved more effective than all criteria set by the government.

In addition, technologies have helped us use only 10 tonnes of water instead of 100 tonnes like before for a tonne of paper thanks to reusing the water in the factory’s system. Actually, now fresh water only accounts for 5 per cent of what we actually use in our factory.

Regarding production, we have invested more than $650 million in the world's most advanced packaging paper production lines from leading paper production equipment suppliers such as Austria, Sweden, the United States, and Germany, boasting a capacity of 420,000 tonnes per year.

Besides, the factory's high degree of automation allows Lee & Man to consume less energy and water in the course of its operations. Applying the circular economy model, we have used recycled paper which accounts for more than 95 per cent of our inputs.

At Lee & Man, pursuing sustainable production is the cornerstone of all our activities.

What about your policy regarding your labour force?

At Lee & Man, apart from production activities, the human factor is also one of our greatest concerns.

Lee & Man has more than 1,200 employees, more than 95 per cent of whom are Vietnamese and more than 30 per cent are female. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of the managers are female. Each year, we spend $1.4 million on recruiting and developing our human resources. We organise or appoint employees to attend domestic and foreign training courses to improve their professional qualifications and capabilities to operate the factory.

Currently, Lee & Man has just opened a new dormitory with 419 apartments that is able to meet the accommodation needs of 1,500 people. The project has an expenditure of more than VND380 billion ($16.5 million) and features a full range of entertainment services that ensure the best living conditions for employees. This is considered the most modern and largest such project in the Mekong Delta.

In our sustainable development initiatives, we pay a great deal of attention to corporate social responsibility. This is a commitment to economic development along with improving the quality of life for workers and their families in particular, as well as the Hau Giang community and society in general.

What is your plan to contribute more to Vietnam’s sustainable development in the long run?

When investing in Vietnam, Lee & Man not only wishes to promote the development of a high-quality paper industry in line with the needs of the economy and the country’s technology transfer, but we also hope to elevate an important manufacturing industry which contributes significantly to Vietnam's GDP through responsible business activities.

Inheriting the group’s manufacturing experience and consistent operating criteria, Lee & Man Vietnam is committed to sustainable development in all aspects – not only reflecting efficient business operations that contribute to the economy and local labour but also strictly following environmental protection criteria and being active in social activities and community support.

Sustainable development is the direction that every company and manufacturing industry in the world needs to focus on and is the criterion that Lee & Man sets out from the beginning in every market where we invest.

By Phuong Hao

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