From Sustainability to Profitability

Ternova

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 14. Life Below Water 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

“The future is yesterday, and we were the first to get there” Rodrigo Tona, CEO of Ternova. Ternova is a new business model that came from a rapid transformation of a former company called Termoencogibles. The renewed business model produces packages from packages and invests exclusively in projects and companies that have a positive impact on society and the environment. Nowadays, their principal economic activities are raw materials, sustainable energies, packaging, distribution and logistics.

Authors

MARIA JOSE FUNES

MARIA JOSE FUNES

Valeria Gadala Maria

Valeria Gadala Maria

Pedro Sarobe

Pedro Sarobe

Isabella Gonzalez

Isabella Gonzalez

Daniela Melani

Daniela Melani

School

Universidad de Navarra

Universidad de Navarra

Professor

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Innovation

The innovation is the company itself. “Ternova” is a transformation of their old company “Termoencogibles”. Ternova is a company that promotes the use of innovative technologies to co-create sustainable businesses and to generate innovative opportunities that transcend any barrier, through new and better alliances that allow for investments beyond their borders. They are loyal to their objective of working exclusively with companies that support the different SDGs.

Their brand personality revolves around three main characteristics: awareness, proaction and vision. They consider themselves a proactive group that contributes to problem solving with innovations of materials science and technology. They are aware and interested in their surroundings, they understand their environment and use reality as a starting point to motivate a change. And they are visionary in a sense of inspiration and invitation to action through their capacity of seeing today’s impact, in the future.

Their concept of sustainability is based on 4 main focal points: the most eco efficient operations in Latin America, a product portfolio with viable long term solutions, being leaders in public relations and developing solutions that create sustainable societies. They seek to find and use sustainable alternatives for each element of the production process: raw material, energy, packaging, distribution, logistics and e-commerce.

But the company impacts the environment through their packaging production, commercialization and distribution. They produce packages made from bio-based materials and waste, this way, they don’t just reuse and reduce waste, but they minimize the demand for normal plastic. They distribute their packaging to various countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Dominican Republic.

They decided to put sustainability over everything. They carry out sustainable development in many different ways, which include an agreement with the United Nations, measurement of their compliance with their chosen SDGs, the collection of recyclable materials, a greenlab for eco efficient operations, a solution hypothesis, GEI Inventory, carbon neutrality and recycling plants. They also foster innovation through various ongoing projects such as their INnovaLab, application of continuous improvement method, education on innovation for employees and directors, participation in innovation projects, innovation forums and many innovative ideas that are effectively translated into projects and results.

The innovation has been and still is driven by a clear mission: being leaders on sustainability and environmental impact. Their goal is not only to achieve their mission, but to set an example and help other companies to be sustainable and eco efficient. They are led by the idea of being pioneers of environmental change beyond the borders of their home country: El Salvador.

From Sustainability to Profitability

Inspiration

When reality hits, you have two options: or play not to lose, or change for good. The second option was the impressive decision taken by Rodrigo Tona and his team.

From one day to another, Termoencogible Group Members realized that nothing they had been doing until that moment would keep on working. No matter what they did, government regulations and consumer perceptions, regarding plastic, had changed. Consumers were informed about the negative impact that product had on the environment, and letting them know about their company’s internal sustainability policies was not enough to erase the negative perception. Accepting reality was considered the optimal solution. “We had to accept that everyone was striking against plastic products, but the key part was realizing that no one was proposing solutions to change the arduous reality of contamination and climate change”, said Ternova’s CEO during the interview.

After that eye opening moment, they made a key decision: “We will challenge the industry, we are aware that the ones that cause the problems are the same ones that need to place the solutions on top of the table, because problems need to be solved from their roots.” stated Tona. They had something clear, the sustainability strategy would not compete against their business, instead it would be the enabler, the one that powers and strengthens their company’s goals.

After having this in mind, they tried to put words into actions, but they recognized that they could not solve the problem by themselves. They also perceived that there were companies, entrepreneurs and even competitors that were working on different components of this huge and unsolved puzzle. Unfortunately, there was no recipe to solve it. At that moment they made a decision: it was in their hands: they would lead the race, and they would put all of their efforts to put themselves forward as a benchmark of sustainable companies at the national and international level.

After all those moments of inspiration and motivation, they decided to become a company that, apart from producing packaging products, influenced the entire concessional business value chain.

Overall impact

The world is going through a period of extraordinary change, and we must all adapt to it, balancing creativity and sustainability. Every transition brings with it new possibilities for making the world a better place. As a result, when the company made the decision to transition to TERNOVA, their main goal was to have a positive impact in society through sustainability. Promoting the use of technology to co-create sustainable triple-impact enterprises and develop creative opportunities that cut across all barriers.

The organization received the Icontec Carbon Neutral accreditation, which means that their complete process was assessed and determined to meet all of the conditions for validation in this category. As a result of this certification, they became the first carbon-neutral Salvadoran company, accomplishing a goal that the company has set for itself since 2016. "We are adopting solutions that allow us to be in harmony with the planet and reduce our environmental impact. Only in this way can we be a sustainable company and continue to contribute for a long time to the economic, social and environmental development of the country," said the CEO, Rodrigo Tona.

Like Rodrigo explained to us, in sustainability there is no single solution and no one has the perfect recipe, so you have to constantly reinvent yourself. The last venture they launched was a laboratory called InNovaLab, which aims to: connect and enhance innovation ecosystems in El Salvador and Central America. In alliance with USAID and the Salvadoran Association of Industrialists, it became the first laboratory specialized in linking, incubation and innovation for the development of high-value business projects. In addition, it caused a big social impact since it obtained the EDGE certification (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), which is a world-class qualification that evaluates sustainable construction standards, in order to certify a building it is necessary to meet 20% saving standards in energy, water and energy consumption consumed in the materials used.

Being the first mover was definitely a very risky position for the company. The spotlight was pointing at them from the moment they answered the call for sustainability. Being the first mover attracted a lot of new customers. However, Rodrigo taught us that society applauds and acknowledges, but forgets really quickly, so we always have to seek for constant innovation and set ourselves as the first movers in every opportunity that is presented to us.

This is a company with a high commitment to excellence, responsibility and continuous improvement in the products and services they offer to their clients and stakeholders. A series of recognitions, awards and certifications support their work of more than 50 years.

List of awards and certifications:

  • CEO Rodrigo Tona was named "Sustainability Champion" by the English magazine The Purchaser.
  • Ranking of Great Companies 2021, in Organizational Climate category, By Summa magazine.
  • Top 5 of the companies of El Salvador in the Ranking of the companies of the year 2020, in sector: Commerce and Industry, published by Vida y Éxito, Negocios y Buen Vivir.
  • CEO: Rodrigo Tona, named one of the 100 Latinos most committed to climate action by Sachamama Org.
  • Ranking of the best companies for young professionals 2020 (EFY: Employers For Youth) position # 12 out of 15 in the public ranking, # 12 out of 30 in the global ranking and # 2 out of 3 in the Manufacturing Industry ranking.
  • Position # 2 in the Top 30 of the Best Companies in El Salvador and position # 13 in the Top 30 of the Best Regional Companies of the Summa Magazine Ranking, 2020.

Business benefit

Basing their business decisions on scientific data in order to tailor their actions to what would be most beneficial in regards to sustainability, has opened many opportunities for Ternova. Since 2014, after they took the key decision of constructing a sustainable society, they have been able to achieve different accomplishments.

For instance, in 2018 they launched their operation Zero Waste to Landfill, in which they aimed to reduce their production of waste. This same year, they became the first country in Central America to pledge allegiance to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. Furthermore, in 2019 they committed to becoming more transparent by making their accountability, strategy, and compromise accessible to the public; a step that inspired many.

During the interview, Rodrigo talked about the advantages and costs of being the First mover. “We became widely known by participating in various forums, which was positive with our clients, but politicians in our country started acting against us”. But their willingness to become inspiration for Salvadorans would not let them stop.

Now, they are known for owning the biggest plant of recycled product in Central America, and one of the most modern plants in Latin America. The reason behind this plant is not only producing packages from packages, but also contributing to SDG9: Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. The Carbon Neutral and plastic certification the company received after the construction of this plant is evidence of the clear hard work of Ternova to reach SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG13: Climate Action.

Social and environmental benefit

Through their research , besides finding a prominent focus on responsible consumption and production, climate action, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, they found out as well a focus on actively supporting partnerships for the common good, for life below water and for Sustainable Cities and Communities.

For the past 10 years they have been working on the reallocation and management of their waste, an effort that has allowed them to recycle more than 15,000 tons of plastic per month. Along with said achievement, they have become the largest corporation in Central America to provide innovative and flexible packaging. Following this, Ternova aims to double their recycling efforts during the next 10 years. These efforts are all characterized by their improvement in responsible consumption and production within the firm.

In addition, they have also partnered with E-Coin, the first virtual coin that can be exchanged by waste, in which they aim to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable practices and facilitating said practices as a way of increasing mass participation. They have also partnered with entrepreneurs, Cristina and Oscar, who look forward to constructing houses and school buildings from recycled materials. Partnering with FUNZEL, El Salvador’s Zoological Foundation, has also let them surpass the established goal of 61,404 incubated turtle eggs, as the commitment in the conservation of sea turtles has been in the main axes of the company for more than 10 years. This undeniably shows a commitment to increasing sustainable practices in the business world through supporting partnerships.

Moreover, last year they announced that they became signatories of the United Nations Global Compact, strengthening their commitment to produce and act responsible towards the accomplishment of the valuable and essential SDGs.

Interview

Rodrigo Tona, CEO

Photo of interviewee

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Ternova

Ternova

Santa Tecla, La Libertad, SV

Business Website: https://ternova.group/

Year Founded: 1970

Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000

At TERNOVA they promote the use of technology to co-create sustainable triple impact businesses and generate innovative opportunities.