“Sustainability is not a one-man show, not a one-company show, or a one-country show. It's a global issue that we all need to be addressing whether we think it's worthwhile or not”, says Polymertal’s Guy Varon.
Polymertal, a company established in 2013, provides ground-breaking technology through the metal plating of 3D printed or injected molded components. This unique plating process technology that combines Polymer with Metal to create a superior product has revolutionized the industry and companies such as Elbit, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Rafael have switched over to Polymertal’s materials that offer increased efficiencies.
Guy Varon, Polymertal’s VP of business development and sustainability, chats with T2NZ in an exclusive interview about collaboration being the essence of sustainability and his passion for sustainability that led him to embark on his own journey.
Q) How does Polymertal look at sustainability overall because you work with a very innovative product?
A) Polymertal, is combining two worlds of materials, the polymers, which are usually synthetics and come from fossil-based sources, and the metals which are usually mined in third world countries or in areas where human rights are easily violated. Both hardware components are historically not very sustainable products. So, there’s a social responsibility issue there that could not go on forever. The industries that we’re targeting today, which are automotive, aerospace, and communication are now seeking the solutions to become much more sustainable and follow the ESG. Today, Polymertal is a company of 34 employees. We have investors coming from Europe and the United States and we want to make ourselves resilient for the future and be ahead of the global sustainability game. We need to make a significant change in our strategy and in our entire mindset and perception of how we interact with sustainability.
Q) What have been your efforts personally towards the achievement of this goal?
A) What I’ve done during this year, was to try to get mentorship and education about this subject so I can become an expert in it. I have my own agenda of how to conduct things for which I’ve taken the entire organization and put it in a capsule and tried to break it down into the impact of the company across the downstream and upstream process from the materials to the manufacturing and end of life. Taking care of employees’ wellbeing are and how much diverse the company is. I was also looking for some formal education about it to really try to get it from the theoretical to the practical level before I actually take steps to achieve the plan. Therefore, I enrolled in the Oxford Sustainable Corporations program. Eventually, at the end of the program, I had to create the actual plans to make this change in the organization. Now I feel much more educated about the theoretical and practical steps that I can takein creating the sustainability strategy for my cooperation.
Q) What is your strategy for your organization?
A) The steps that I’m going to take are perceiving sustainability from all aspects.
How do you incentivize employees to really try and contribute to the sustainability of the business, for example, will you give employees some benefits if they save on electricity or if they commute to work not using their personal cars, but through public transportation? How we are sourcing materials? Do you add bio-based materials instead of fossil-based materials, as an alternative and offer them to our customers? These are actions that we are working on right now with several collaborations that we are running today, to offer a more sustainable value to the internal and external stakeholders of Polymertal. Therefore, we will be conducting carbon footprint analysis by an external company, which will tell us exactly how much we’re able to save. And all this will be public and offered to the customers that we’re targeting specifically aerospace and automotive. They are likely to benefit from these materials first.
Following that, we’ll be addressing the end of life of our products to create a true circular economy. We need to provide a solution for the parts in order to avoid landfill at the end of life, and to be able to reduce the carbon footprint of the products. To find a solution to be able to recycle the product at the end of life, I reached out to collaborate with companies that develop and offer recycling services in addition to metal plating companies that provide other commodities to jointly offer recycling at the end of life. We would like to provide a commercial process for recycling these types of products.
Our target is to be able to offer recycling opportunities on a bigger scale for mass production.
Q) When you promote Polymertal have any of your agreements had to change in any way or were you already above specifications when it comes to the recent COP2 agreements that were signed because you have such a wide distribution around the world?
A) There’s no global benchmark on how to assess sustainability in a business and financial reporting on sustainability. It’s creating some challenges for many companies today. The automotive, aerospace and communication industries are definitely going to be met by our technology and products. Sustainability is such a difficult matter because you cannot get everything done by yourself. You need to collaborate with a network, obtain connections, work with other companies, which are sometimes direct competitors. Sometimes they’re just partners that you need to seek out and work with, in order to get things accomplished.
Q) Where do you see the biggest challenges that are currently falling your way as an organization?
A) There’s so much money out there, up for investments but not enough technologies and startups or small companies that need the funding. These days, I talk to investors in different areas and territories, specifically in Germany, whose focus is on the sustainable business criterion. Once you decide to become a sustainable business, there’s only one certification on a global scale, that’s really providing the entire ESG and SDG aspect, and that’s B Corp Certification. B-Labs, the auditing entity, is a nonprofit organization that audits the certifications on a global scale for companies to transform into a more sustainable business by inspecting it and assessing the capabilities in everything, from the environmental aspects to how you treat employees if you have inclusion and diversity and how you are contributing to the community that you live in? Are your financials supporting this? How is the organization considering the employee benefits? Generally, this is really a big holistic overview. They have already 4500 companies certified by now. In Israel, unfortunately, there are only two companies that have been certified and we’re going to be the third one. I’ve started the process of certification already because this is a major part of making ourselves a global player with international standards that we comply with within all aspects of the business, and it will eventually also help with future funding.
Q) What have been your marketing strategies and the hurdles you come across?
A) Marketing is a tool that should be utilized and is a very important part of the business. Since we’re participating in networks, we have enough exposure as we go to events and trade shows. I think the hurdle we are facing is trying to make or get competent people that are working in companies or engineers that work in certain companies, specifically bigger corporations, to change the way they design and manufacture their components. And that’s why, in 2022, we are already targeting different events in which we will have a booth and we’re making effort to work on the industries, getting exposures, and putting ourselves out there for our target customers.
We’re also launching a new website and we’ve recently launched a new company video that will explain about sustainability, to be able to make it more understandable and comprehensible for companies that we work with, as to what our sustainability impact is. We’re joining networks, which is also not too cheap to take care of. But this is all going for a specific cause of getting our exposure bigger, explaining better about what we do.
Q) Tell us something about your foreign collaborations?
A) We’re already seeing big interest from large corporate corporations in our target markets, specifically in Germany, France, United States. I’ve started working with some of the biggest 3d printing manufacturers, collaborations with multibillion-dollar companies that would like to support us with sales and marketing activities in their target markets as a collaboration.
Q) Which is your favorite city and your favorite book of all time?
A) I used to live in the United States for a few years in Virginia in a city called Charlottesville. That’s where the University of Virginia is, where I had spent a couple of years, going to school. So I do miss going there. I have other favorite cities today, in the United States like New York, or San Francisco, which are those big cities, that have a lot of interesting things going on. But that’s probably the city that I miss the most. About a book, I would probably go for the last book of Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.