Special Topics

05/08/2017

Jens Gieseke, MEP, emphasizes importance of family businesses such as Baerlocher

A high-ranking politician visited Baerlocher´s production site in Lingen, Germany, on March 17th, 2017: Jens Gieseke, a member of the European Parliament, received a first-hand look at the company. With almost 1,200 employees, Baerlocher is a leading global vendor of plastic additives, as well as a family business with a management team and a history that spans more than 190 years.

Company CEO Arne Schulle welcomed the parliamentarian, along with plant manager Jürgen Bähr; deputy plant manager and operations manager Christian Schulze Severing; environmental and quality system manager Wilfried Gecks; and Bernt Kastein, chairman of the worker council.

Schulle pointed out that he would naturally make employees aware of the crucial importance of Europe to the global success of the company while emphasizing that their jobs were closely linked to it. Baerlocher operates globally and has invested heavily in new production capacity worldwide, as well as in research and development at its headquarters. Additives from Baerlocher enable large players in the global plastics industry to tailor their products specifically to particular markets and applications.

But Schulle also cautioned that acquiring raw materials in the oleochemistry sector (market segment) could become difficult. As an example, he mentioned imminent disruptions as a result of new political decisions relating to the sector of animal fats. Due to government subsidies, animal fats will soon be burned in car engines instead of contributing to a higher added value in industrial production. Having to import palm oil to Baerlocher’s site in Lingen in order to replace animal fats would be counterproductive to the company and could jeopardize up to 20 sustainable, competitive and well-paid jobs in Lingen.

Gieseke, who is an environmental politician in the European Parliament, pointed out how difficult it is for a European parliamentarian to keep a neutral perspective on individual interests while maintaining a balance. "Successful European politics benefit from impressions of companies. Laws cannot be enacted without being in touch with reality," said Gieseke. There were numerous points of contacts. Last year, Gieseke, who comes from the region around Lingen, worked on the air-quality directive in the European Parliament and defined ambitious goals for the member states. "In Europe, we are pioneers in terms of air quality," said Gieseke.

A legislative proposal before Parliament addresses the recycling economy. Gieseke was impressed by the voluntary commitment of the PVC industry to continuously improve the sustainability of PVC since 2010 and to eliminate lead in production. Meanwhile, 500,000 tons of PVC are recycled as part of the VinylPlus initiative.

During his tour of the production site, the parliamentarian was acquainted with the world of plastic additives production. He also talked with the office manager of the VCI in Brussels, Attila Gerhäuser, and with Michael Hillenbrand of PlasticsEurope Germany. Discussion topics included the life cycle aspects of additives, as well as the ever-increasing burden of regulations. "Such companies must be supported in their efforts to voluntarily regulate," said Gieseke, who would argue against over-regulation if it adversely affects the industry.

Sustainable and ecologically, economically and socially sensible action by politicians, associations and enterprises to meet the needs of the people and increase prosperity in Germany and Europe, as well as secure the future of companies like Baerlocher, requires the collaboration of politicians, associations and entrepreneurs. The valuable contributions by successful family-owned companies cannot be overstated — a fact that became clear during Gieseke’s visit to Baerlocher’s Lingen site on March 17th, 2017.