The Slovenia Times

Big Efforts to go Green



On 5 May, a group of gardeners arrived at Ljubljana's eye clinic. They spent the day planting a range of shrubs, quickly making the clinic's gardens more pleasant for visitors, patients and staff alike. Not one member of the group was a professional gardener and nor were they being paid for their services. They were in fact all employees of Lek and were taking part in the firm's sixth Community Partnership Day. During annual event staff from the pharmaceutical company leave their desks, factories and offices to dedicate themselves to improving their local communities.

The event is one of the most innovative ways in which Lek works to improve the environment in which it operates. It is far from the only way. Along with parent company Novartis, which took ownership of the Slovenian firm in 2002, the organisation is making extensive efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.


According to Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški, director of corporate communications at Lek, they are efforts already yielding results: "During the past ten years, Novartis sales have more than doubled but our emissions and use of natural resources have grown much more slowly."

The company is investing significant money in work to safeguard the environment. From 2003 to 2009, Novartis spent around EUR 900m on development and infrastructure investment in Slovenia, with the number of sustainable development projects increasing year-on-year.

Show me the money

Si-mobil is also putting its money where its mouth is according to Maja Ilec of its corporate communication department. Slovenia's second largest mobile telephone provider donates around 0.7 percent of its revenues in support of socially responsible projects and has even set up its own environment-focused institution.

"The Si.voda Fund is a non-profit organisation that raises awareness of the importance of high quality water in Slovenia," Ilec explains. "We actively investigate ways in which to solve the country's problems with water quality.

"Care for the environment is included in our mission, business strategy and daily business processes. We aim to become a leader among Slovenian companies in the introduction and development of green business and supply."

Green standards

Si-mobil is not the only Slovenian telecommunications company trying to claim the mantle of green pioneer. In 2007, Telekom Slovenia became the first company in the sector to acquire the ISO 14001 environmental standard. This internationally recognised standard requires companies to reduce the environmental impact of their work. Darinka Pavlič Kamien, head of public relations at the company, says green considerations are firmly part of the company's business culture.

Mercator is a fellow holder of the ISO 14001 standard and, through its Department of Environmental Protection, works constantly to reduce its environmental impact. And Barbara Stegel, head of public relations, believes the supermarket is well placed to influence both suppliers and consumers to pay greater heed to the environment.

"We know that as Slovenia's biggest company, one which is increasingly growing into an international corporation, we can contribute a lot to the protection of the environment," Stegel says.

"In collaboration with suppliers we work to adjust production and packaging methods to ensure a green supply of healthy Slovenian products. Also, we are devoting more and more attention to cooperation with customers and increasing their awareness [of environmental issues]. We were the first major Slovenian retailer to introduce fair trade goods and to introduce measures to reduce consumption of plastic packaging."

It seems Slovenia's largest companies are making big efforts to go green - and to encourage others to follow suit.

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