100% recycling since 1950.

Our understanding of sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of our production. Since 1950, we have been using waste paper as a raw material, thus conserving valuable natural resources. With the most modern technology we save more and more energy and water. And as a regionally rooted family business, we live our responsibility for people and the environment every day.

Our sustainability strategy.

10 %

by 2025 per tonne of product (compared to 2018)


per tonne of product – a top value in terms of economy in our industry

100 %

we want to use in the plant by 2025

Our sustainability target

Our goal is a completely CO2-neutral production – and thus the ecologically perfect packaging. There is still a long way to go. But we’re getting there. In doing so, we are not afraid to experiment.

In 2019, we commissioned a power-to-heat module that can use clean wind power to generate steam for our machines. Ultimately, it will be a mixture of efficiency and the use of renewable energies that will get us there. Together with many other major German companies, we are working in the Stiftung KlimaWirtschaft, which operates throughout Germany, to present politicians with coherent concepts for a well-regulated, CO2-neutral industrial production. Ambitious goals can only be achieved if the appropriate framework conditions are in place. Furthermore, we have been a

member of the Bundesdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Umweltbewusstes Management e.V. (B.A.U.M.) since 1992. We are deeply convinced that climate protection and economic success can benefit each other for the good of all. We are also pleased to receive good marks for our sustainability management! In our last assessment by the world’s largest sustainability rating portal EcoVadis, we received a “Platinum” award in 2024. Our company is among the top percent of all companies evaluated worldwide.

Waste paper – our raw material
Recycling as an (almost) infinite cycle

The vast majority of our products are made from 100 percent recovered paper (find our fibre purchasing here). For technical reasons, we use pulp from sustainable forestry in addition to this raw material for some grades. Fibres in waste paper can be reused very often, so that an environmentally friendly cycle is created through reprocessing and recycling.

Waste paper also contains an increasing amount of plastic waste. Unwanted, but too bad for plain disposal, we think. Therefore, in 2018, we commissioned a reject processing plant to turn this waste into fuel pellets. They can replace regular fuels such as natural gas in industry and thus save even more CO2.

Our products – 100 % recyclable

All our paper and cardboard products are 100 percent recyclable, which means they can be collected in the waste paper and reprocessed into new products. In addition, all our products can bear the FSC seal (FSC-C074387) for sustainable forestry.

Sustainable management

Papier- und Kartonfabrik Varel is certified according to the standards DIN EN ISO 9001 (quality), 14001 (environment), 22000 (food and product safety), 45001 (occupational health and safety) and 50001 (energy). These and other certificates are proof of our strictly controlled claim to sustainable corporate management.

Using energy responsibly
Efficiency through expertise and modern technology

The production of paper and cardboard from recovered paper is also energy-intensive, although significantly less so than products made from virgin fibre. We use state-of-the-art technology to handle our current energy source, natural gas, as efficiently as possible. Our own power plant can convert up to 92 per cent of this energy into electricity and steam. Efficient technology also allows us to use the cold and waste heat in water and air several times over, for example, and we also produce our own biogas. We are intensively looking for sustainable ways to replace natural gas step by step with renewable energies.

Water: our cycle
Economical use of valuable resources

In the production of paper and board, we need water primarily to dissolve solid waste paper, to clean it, to transport the fibres and to form a new paper web from them. We use the same water dozens of times in different cycles. Finally, we clean the water until it is so clean that we can discharge it into the North Sea. Through evaporation and precipitation it gets back into the cycle.

Integrity and fairness

We take our social responsibility very seriously and are committed to responsible corporate governance. In our Code of Conduct, we have described the principles that guide us in this regard. In general, all our actions in all areas, especially towards customers, suppliers, business partners and our employees, should be guided by integrity and fairness. Sustainability and the protection of our environment are essential principles.

Complaints procedure

We have set up a Group-wide complaints procedure that enables internal and external persons to report
complaints or violations in the area of public law, human rights and/or environmental obligations in connection with PKV,
its direct business partners or employees. The reports are forwarded via an anonymized procedure to our external ombudsman,
FIRST PRIVACY GmbH, via an anonymous procedure. The information you provide will be treated confidentially and,
after an initial review forwarded to the HZI Group’s Compliance Manager for further action.
The protection of whistleblowers is guaranteed throughout the procedure and it is ensured that no disadvantages arise in the professional context.
All regulations relating to the complaints procedure are anchored in our Group-wide rules of procedure.

We look out for each other
Social and regional responsibility

We take our social responsibility seriously and are committed to responsible corporate governance. Our declaration of principles on labor and human rights is aligned with the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

For our employees, we are a stable and attractive employer with a positive “hands on” mentality as a family-run company in the medium-sized sector. It is important to us to work in a healthy and safe manner and to continuously train our employees. We pay according to an attractive tariff, plus benefits above the tariff in the form of bonuses. We celebrate successes together, and we help each other get better and better.

We are constantly in close and constructive contact with our employee representatives. Committed and satisfied employees are our basis for high quality products and the satisfaction of our customers. You can find out more in our career portal.

For our region, the Barthel Foundation, which supports us, makes important contributions to strengthening civil society and cultural diversity. In this way, a portion of our economic success directly benefits charitable causes.

Green logistics
Our contribution to environmentally friendly and efficient processes

Within the company, we are investing in environmentally friendly logistics – for example, we are in the process of converting all forklift trucks to electric drive. We already use 100% electric forklifts in the dispatch of our products. They save massively on CO2 emissions compared to diesel-powered forklifts and are powered by electricity from the plant’s own power station (with its very high efficiency of 92 percent).

By means of software-supported truck scheduling, we keep waiting times as low as possible and avoid empty runs. Furthermore, we request all carriers and suppliers to send only noise-reduced vehicles with emission category A (EURO VI) to Varel.

We see the JadeWeserPort as an opportunity for the region and the Varel paper and board mill. The seaport shortens the lead time by 50% compared to Bremerhaven, for example. This not only saves time, but also reduces costs and environmental impact.