A word with our CEO

Published 18 February, 2020
Jonas Kleberg, Chairman and CEO of Soya Group, has also studied agriculture and forestry and has long experience of working on environmental solutions in Wallenius’ companies. Driven by the ambition to promote and implement radical solutions, through partnerships when possible, he is passionately committed to solving the challenges of sustainability. “The way the world looks right now, we are rapidly using up future generations’ potential to live a good life,” says Jonas Kleberg. 

Who or what inspires you when it comes to sustainability?  

Jonas Kleberg“I was very much inspired by a number of early environmental researchers and networks. The work Elon Musk and Tesla do is interesting. My strong interest in agriculture and forestry also plays an important role and still inspires me. It was very encouraging when we received our first environmental award in 1997, after we recycled 97% of the materials from demolishing and decontaminating the old oil depot site at Gåshaga and converted it into a fantastic residential area. A few years later we received an environmental award from Volvo, and since then we have won several other awards, says Jonas Kleberg.” 

What do you feel has been the “best” piece of sustainability news over the past year? 

“The breakthrough in energy storage, which has opened up entirely new opportunities for peak shaving in the production and consumption of energy. Old consumption calculations that were based on everyone using their maximum power requirement at the same time no longer apply. Energy storage and digital solutions that spread the load between users and within networks mean that these peaks are eliminated.” 

What changes do we need to make for a sustainable future? 

“I believe increased electrification, not just of vehicles, is vital to bring about a rapid transition to a more sustainable future. There are of course several other examples, and within the company we are working on a number of sustainability solutions and environmental projects.” 

Is economic growth compatible with sustainability as a goal for business? 

“Our priority is long-term sustainable growth. We have the benefit of not being pressured by quarterly reports, so there is less risk of having to postpone environmental and sustainability projects. Short-termism is never good, as it can make you choose downstream solutions and unsustainable investments.” 

Why do you think it is important to find upstream solutions, i.e., solutions that do not create new problems? 

“They are the only way forward. We have been focusing on upstream solutions since the mid-1990s. One concrete example is the ballast water treatment system from Wallenius Water – PureBallast – which prevents the spread of invasive species without using chemicals.” 

What is the biggest challenge for shipping today? 

“Too many people still do not understand the difference between upstream and downstream solutions. We are continuing our efforts to inspire and motivate others to follow our examples, whatever business they work in. In shipping, we know that there are clear examples of reactionary steps, i.e., downstream solutions, such as scrubber technology.” 

What is the biggest challenge for the real estate industry? 

“Many companies in the real estate industry are stuck with old and less effective system solutions, as well as regulations that limit the use of new and more effective solutions.” 

And what are the challenges facing the agriculture and forestry operations? 

“Agriculture, forestry and livestock farming face many challenges, but I am very proud of our local solutions at Menhammar that are paving the way for several of our major projects. Livestock breeding, both the competition side and pasture meat production, has its challenges, and we do not intend or wish to compromise on the best interests of the animals. We are convinced that our livestock breeding delivers added value by preserving grazing land and heritage environments that would otherwise become overgrown. Wildlife and aquaculture play an important role, not least in the conservation of endangered species, from plants and wildlife to insects and other organisms.” 

Do you think Sweden’s zero target for greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved by 2045? 

“I think we will reach the goal sooner – we have unique conditions in Sweden and we have a strong tradition of pioneering and innovating!” 

Do you believe that Sweden’s vehicle fleet will be fossil-free by 2030? 

“I think so, but we need to speed up the shift to fossil-free transition fuels and electrification. The increasing use of fossil-free “drop-in” fuels is an important step in this transition and these include biogas, biodiesel and fossil-free synthetic fuels. During 2019, Menhammar switched to 100% operation on HVO100, which is a fossil-free fuel we use as a substitute for diesel in our machines. But the long-term goal is to move to electric and autonomous vehicles and machines, a trend that can already been seen in everything from lawnmowers, chainsaws and brushcutters, to electric cars and wheel loaders.” 

What will be the focus of the Group in the future? 

“The concept of ‘sustaintech sums up very well what we have been working towards since the mid-1990s. Sustainability and digitalization – these are ambitions and goals that go hand in hand. It is perfectly in line with our upstream, purposeful and long-term sustainability efforts. It’s important to focus on the goal, make the right choices, that is, upstream solutions, and dare to break new ground – that’s where our pioneering spirit and long-term view work at its best!” 

“I think we will reach the zero target goal for greenhouse gas emissions sooner than 2045 – we have unique conditions in Sweden and we have a strong tradition of pioneering and innovating!” 

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