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Organic supermarket owner Harald Menken started using sustainable Blue4est® paper from the Koehler Paper Group a while ago.
He sees parallels between the Koehler product and his own sector, which also seeks to minimize its impact on the planet.
A Holistic Approach for Organic Supermarkets
“We have been using Blue4est® ever since we opened the Oberkirch store,” explains Harald Menken, the owner of two organic supermarkets menken: one in Oberkirch and one in Bühl (Baden). This is not the first time that he has thought about how retailers can live up to their sustainability ethos across the board.
Blue4est®, a thermal paper from the Koehler Paper Group, helps him to make another aspect of his operations more environmentally friendly. This blueish thermal paper does not contain any chemically reactive components and is the first thermal paper to be approved for direct contact with food. “That’s something I tell my customers,” says Menken. When speaking to them, he realizes that many of them are unaware of the properties exhibited by different kinds of receipt papers.
Doing the Environment a Favor – with Receipts
But the distinctive blue color is a great conversation starter. “Customers are always asking why the receipts are blue,” he says. He is happy to take the time to explain, as he regards it as a good thing himself. “I think that it is important for companies – like Koehler – to continue working on certain areas and try to find alternatives for things that harm the environment,” he remarks, alluding to the debate surrounding bisphenol A, which has broken out in the media in connection with some conventional thermal paper.
At the same time, he sees parallels with his own sector, which is by no means a gold mine. “People do not necessarily earn much money in the organic food sector,” he says. “But it’s a question of mindset.” As with Blue4est®, it’s all about raising awareness of sustainability and environmental protection. “We organic retailers are also doing it for the good of our sector.”
The Thermal Paper That Is Good News for the Environment
For Menken, who owns two supermarkets, price plays a secondary role. When asked about the difference in price compared to conventional thermal papers, his view is clear: “Blue4est® is already better value for the environment, which is a vital factor as far as I’m concerned.” He is also working on the basis that increasing production volumes and rising expertise on the part of Koehler will have a positive effect on the price.
Here too, he makes a connection with his own industry and the fact that people in Germany always expect cheap food prices. “If apples cost €3.29 per kilo rather than €2.99, that is enough to stop some people from buying them,” says Menken. “But if they have to pay 10 cents a liter more for gas, they still fill up their tanks.”
A Passion for Organic Food
Nonetheless, Menken – who moved from northern Germany to the Baden region in the south – is still passionate about his work. “I have always loved selling organic groceries,” he explains. “As a kid, I grew up on a Demeter farm, which no doubt had a big influence on me.” Having studied business administration in Karlsruhe, he worked in freight forwarding and retail, including as a store manager for Alnatura, a chain of organic supermarkets.
The first rolls of Blue4est® were brought into Menken’s store by a Koehler employee. “He said that it would be a good choice for us ,” he remembers, “and he was absolutely right .” This is especially true as the paper not only won the 2017 US Green Chemistry Challenge Award, but also offers long-lasting printing results compared with traditional thermal papers, which fade over time. It also withstands environmental influences such as sunlight and moisture and, unlike conventional thermal papers, can be disposed of as waste paper.
Menken’s employees were unanimously positive. “I myself was skeptical at first, when I saw the grayish blue roll,” recalls Menken. “But now I can no longer imagine life without it, partly on account of my employees.” He ponders for a moment before concluding: “I think it’s a really great product.”