As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stainless steel containers, THIELMANN delivers unsurpassed container expertise that customers from a broad range of industries can trust and depend on. 

Easy Engineering: How do you see sustainability and what are your efforts in this direction?

THIELMANN: The company embraces a comprehensive approach to sustainability, considering environmental, social, and financial aspects. The company recognizes the importance of addressing environmental issues while ensuring profitability for stakeholders. We believe that sustainable practices not only contribute to cost savings but also attract customers and establish industry leadership. That’s why sustainability is the business priority of the moment. 

E.E: Tell us about the sustainable solutions that you offer (if any).

THIELMANN: THIELMANN’s commitment to sustainable solutions is exemplified by our reusable stainless steel containers. These containers provide a highly sustainable solution for breweries and other industries aiming to reduce their carbon footprint. Compared to single-use glass bottles, utilizing returnable stainless steel kegs can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately nine times.

Recognizing the importance of these containers for the beverage industry and the environment, we established the  Steel Keg Association, a collaborative initiative with competitors and stakeholders. This association aims to promote steel kegs as an eco-friendly alternative to cans, bottles, and plastic kegs in the beverage industry. As part of the Steel Keg Association, we invest significant resources to grow the market for steel kegs and promote them as an eco-friendly alternative to cans and bottles. By encouraging bars and restaurants to promote draft drinks, we aim to change consumer behavior and reduce plastic kegs and bottle usage. The ultimate goal is to create a positive impact on businesses involved in the association and the environment as a whole.

E.E: Do you offer solutions for reinvigorating old equipment with new solutions?

THIELMANN: THIELMANN is committed to the circular economy mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. Stainless steel itself is the ultimate circular material, as its hard-wearing and inert qualities allow customers to use containers for decades; then, once the container reaches the end of its life, it’s 100% recyclable, infinitely. This means that the steel can be recycled over and over again, without any significant reduction in quality.

In order to help customers maximize the usable life of their containers, we also offer comprehensive maintenance and refurbishment services. This enables our clients to keep their fleets in tip-top condition, mitigating the need for replacements. We also offer next-generation solutions to keep fleets secure. For example, our IoT systems give manufacturers an eagle-eye view over their fleet, reducing loss and damage, and providing them with the information they need to optimize their supply chain. 

E.E: Tell us about sustainability in production & distribution.

THIELMANN: We are proud of our constant improvements in production and distribution, which places us as a cost leader in our industry and naturally drives our sustainability efforts. One specific area we are working on is optimizing water treatment and pickling processes. By investing in new technologies and machinery, we aim to minimize the usage of resources such as acids and gasses like helium.

E.E: Tell us about R&D and innovation.

THIELMANN: One major innovation that has yielded concrete results is that we have made the frames for our IBCs, intermediate bulk containers, significantly lighter. This product has proved to be immensely popular and it’s easy to see why – lighter frames mean lower fuel costs, greater conservation of raw materials, and overall less of an impact on the environment. This industry shift is a direct result of R&D into materials and structure, as the goal is always to maintain or increase longevity and robustness while developing lighter and higher-performance products.

E.E: What is the company strategy to reduce environmental impact?

THIELMANN: We have specific targets set for our plants and products, which are incorporated into our annual business plan. These targets are broken down into measurable goals for individual machinery, processes, and personnel, ensuring that our employees are aligned with our sustainability objectives. Additionally, this year, we are working on creating our first sustainability report to further track and communicate our progress.

Overall, we are committed to driving sustainability by reinvigorating our current equipment, optimizing operations, and pursuing innovative solutions. We strive to lead the way in our industry while balancing environmental responsibility with the demands of our customers and the market–and we believe these are in no way mutually exclusive needs.

E.E: Tell us about preserving resources and driving circularity.

THIELMANN: Stainless steel is integral to THIELMANN’s sustainable development strategy due to its longevity. Our kegs can last over 30 years and are even refurbished to extend their lifespan further. This circular economy approach reduces environmental impact compared to repeatedly producing and disposing of plastic kegs.

It’s not just the longevity of our containers that drive resource preservation. The steel utilized in our assembly lines is composed of 75% recycled content, aligning with the company’s commitment to driving circularity. While the production of new steel is known to be resource-intensive, it is important to highlight its recyclability. Our decision to use 75% recycled steel is based on current industry standards, ensuring the desired robustness and longevity of its high-quality stainless steel products.

E.E: How do you drive focus on sustainability of operations?

THIELMANN: Our operations logistics place a strong emphasis on sustainability in its operations, employing advanced automation technologies to drive this focus. By leveraging cameras and artificial intelligence, we have significantly enhanced our detection capabilities, enabling faster and more efficient identification and resolution of mistakes and critical errors. This automation not only reduces material losses but also minimizes waste in the keg production process. Through early issue detection, we can proactively take corrective measures, ensuring the production of flawless and usable kegs. This approach not only benefits the environment by reducing overall waste but also enhances operational efficiency within our company.

E.E: Tell us about sustainable energy solutions used.

THIELMANN: We’ve installed large voltaic solar panels on the roof in our plant in Spain. This allows us to generate a portion of our electricity consumption self-sufficiently, from our own renewable sources. The rest of our electricity from our external provider is also rated as coming from 100% renewable sources. While we still require a significant amount of electricity for our operations, we are actively exploring ways to expand our use of renewable energy across different plants.

E.E: How do you see sustainability in the future?

THIELMANN: The future of sustainability in the industry looks promising. There is a notable shift towards prioritizing sustainability, driven by a growing awareness of the importance of reducing environmental impact and seeking innovative solutions. As competition intensifies, companies are compelled to adopt new technologies and practices to maintain operational efficiency, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. We expect much of the industry’s evolution towards sustainability to occur organically, driven by competitive pressures and the emergence of advanced technologies. THIELMANN remains committed to staying at the forefront of this sustainable transformation, ensuring that our operations align with the evolving industry landscape.