Yulia Ryazanova is the marketing director of an unparalleled waste paper recycling plant in Lipetsk. The use of recycled materials makes it possible to save more than one million trees per year. At the same time, Ms. Ryazanova sees her mission in not only contributing to the development of the plant but also forming an ecological culture in society.
marketing and PR director of L-PAK
One of the important events in the sphere of recycling discussed Russia-wide took place with the participation of Julia Ryazanova. L-PAK company, which has long been a leader in the production of corrugated board and corrugated packaging, together with the Tetra Pak company launched Russia’s largest production line on beverage packaging recycling. Experts believe that its capacity will be enough for the processing of all recyclable materials, which can be collected in Russia today.
Moreover, a large number of projects are being implemented under the supervision of Yulia Ryazanova. They are aimed at promoting the culture of separate waste collection and bringing up an eco-friendly consciousness in the society.
When communicating with Yulia, you will certainly notice her boundless love for her work, team, and the world around her. She is really ready and can take on the world to save the planet for the younger generations. Ms. Ryazanova says that the plant for her is not just a place of work but a second home.
– The plant is of special importance to you. What ties you to this place?
– It is a plant that my father and his friend created back in 2001. A few years later, my father became its sole chief. As for me, I did not immediately start working at the plant. However, I always watched what was going on at the family enterprise with interest.
I received my financial education at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and for some time worked in the banking sector. However, I understood very soon that that field wasn’t close to me at all.
That’s why I came back home to Lipetsk. My father was just beginning to actively introduce the concept of ‘lean production’ into corporate culture at the factory. That idea was very close to me.
After watching the development of our family enterprise and seeing the global goals of the company and the depth of corporate culture, I realized that I could not find a better place to work at.
I had a huge platform to fulfil my creative potential. I liked that I could not only show myself and enjoy my work but also contribute to a big cause.
Another important argument in favour of the Lipetsk plant was the fact that I prefer small and quiet cities. I am a person of many interests and, for me, life is not just about work. It is much more important for me not to waste time in traffic jams but to spend it with my family. I think that when we create a comfortable life for ourselves in different aspects, we can be most effective in all areas.
– How is the production organised? Many people today have heard about waste paper recycling plants but only few people understand how they work.
– We have full cycle production, i.e. absolutely non-waste production. The only exception is water. However, even water is purified and used again at our plant.
Everything starts with the recycling of waste paper, which we buy in huge quantities. Old used corrugated boxes and transport packaging, so-called MS-5B waste paper, as well as juice and milk Tetra Pak packaging are our main raw materials. A large machine that looks like a washing machine recycles the waste. At this stage, we use water to separate the paper and cardboard mass from other materials. The plastic and foil from Tetra Pak are then sent to other recycling plants. The remaining material is thoroughly cleaned and dried. As a result, we get a huge roll of paper.
That’s only part of the work. The received paper is sent to the corrugated board production manufactory. A variety of packaging is made there on special machines. All paper waste is sent back to the first stage of processing. This is how the cycle is closed.
In 2005, we produced 15 million square metres of corrugated cardboard per year. Today, we produce 40 million square metres per month.
Our factory occupies a huge area: 18 hectares. It amounts to the total area of 26 football fields. Of course, it is difficult to walk around such an area. That’s why employees use kick scooters. We try to adhere to a sustainable development course focused on environmental protection in everything including transportation. For example, most of our employees, even those with their own cars, take the corporate bus to work to minimize their carbon footprint.
– Your company is really doing a very big and important thing for the whole world. How would you formulate your social mission?
– We produce packaging. It seems to be a rather simple household product. However, the philosophy of our company is deeper. We would like the production process to be based on care about society, our planet, ecology, and people working at the plant.
I see my mission in creating comfortable conditions for the employees to enjoy every day. Soulfulness, openness, and inspiration are important for that. And I am happy that we managed to create such a unique atmosphere over the years of the company’s existence.
– What principles does your corporate culture presuppose?
– The direction chosen by my father played an important role here. He studied the works of William Edwards Deming, a famous scientist involved in the creation of the so-called Japanese Economic Miracle. My father found a lot of interesting things in those books and applied them in practice in our production.
One of the main principles is that each employee should feel care for himself or herself and realize that he or she is involved in a big overall result. Each employee is important and necessary for the company.
We don’t have efficiency wages and prizes for work. Any encouragement for one person is a punishment for others. It spoils the mood in the team. All of our employees have fixed salaries but they are quite high. This creates a sense of stability and confidence in the future.
When people feel good attitude towards themselves, appreciation of their value, and know that their work will be well paid on time, they start to fulfil their potential more effectively and creatively.
Our plant has quality circles where employees meet regularly to discuss work results and think about how to improve them. Our open and trusting atmosphere contributes to the fact that employees strive to not only fulfil their task but also contribute to the development of the whole company.
– As a marketing and PR specialist, what do you think is necessary for people to know about recycling today?
– Every person should know that separate waste collection is a necessary measure to preserve ecology. If all people start sorting waste correctly, companies like our plant will be able to work much more efficiently.
I always advise all my friends and acquaintances to sort waste into two sections: food waste and separately different packages, wrappers, bottles, and other dry waste.
In Russia, average citizens can only divide the waste into ‘dry’ and ‘wet’. However, that will also simplify the task when distributing raw materials to different plants.
Another life hack for those who want to help with waste processing: before throwing away juice and milk packages, it is better to wash them from the inside and fold them, thus releasing air from them. These simple and quick actions are elements of environmental culture.
Recycling corrugated board and packaging at our factory saved 1.7 million trees in 2019. This shows that the more people start to sort waste properly the greener our planet will be.
We strive to develop an eco-culture in society as part of our social responsibility. Together with Tetra Pak, we recently created a short and clear video about recycling. Using a modern ‘installation’ format, we talk about what happens to juice or milk bags when they are thrown away. We show how they get into the plant and how they are processed. I believe that it is very important to show the process so that people understand why they need to sort waste.
– What countries are today’s leaders in waste recycling?
– Before the pandemic, as a marketing director, I often travelled around the world. I visited different countries and studied their experience in recycling. Interestingly, I have never met plants like ours in any country. Waste recycling and new production usually take place at different plants. At L-PAK, we have three structures at once. We recycle waste, produce paper, and create a number of other goods from paper.
A trip to Japan was one of my business trips before the pandemic. Today, this country is the leader in waste recycling. Waste in Japan is sorted into 20 different fractions! This is the maximum known number of effectively recycled fractions in the modern world.
Japan is one of the most environmentally responsible countries. It recycles almost 100% of all waste.
The leaders in this field also include many European countries and Turkey where waste is sorted into 8 fractions.
Russia still has a long way to go. However, a start has been made and this is the main thing. Today, waste in our country is sorted into two fractions in Moscow and several other cities. The problem is not in logistics but in the absence of separate waste collection culture in the society. It is necessary to do this at the state level, thus broadcasting the necessary information to people.
We process 800 tons of waste paper per day and 1000 tons of Tetra Pak packages per month. These are record numbers for Russia. At the same time, we could install equipment that would increase these figures. However, the lack of developed waste collection culture leads to a lack of raw materials.
To promote the idea of separate waste collection, we created infographics placed on specially purchased recycling bins placed throughout the city. In addition, we regularly speak at various events about how each individual can develop useful habits to contribute to the preservation of the planet.
There are also excursions for children at the plant. Many of our employees are very proud to work at such an enterprise. Of course, they tell their children about it. That’s how the idea to create an interesting excursion around the entire plant appeared. Thanks to it, the visitors can see everything with their own eyes.
Many employees of the plant and I see our mission in transmitting the ideology of the company to the world through our own example.
We can interest the younger generation through words. But only giving them a role model of yourself can teach them something.
– What would you like to wish people from all over the world?
– I would like to wish people to think more about the goals of their every action: working, getting an education, raising children, choosing and buying products, and disposing waste. It is important to constantly ask ourselves and find answers to our questions. Then our life will be conscious. If we start taking care of ourselves (not in a selfish sense), our care will be reflected in everything around us including our environment. Those are all elements of the same chain.
Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov