VanDerEng takes the industry on board with the sustainability drive

As one of the largest manufacturers of event items in the Benelux, VanDerEng has stood for high quality and quickly produced customized identification solutions for years. The product range includes labels and coins, which are used in various industries to identify products, processes and people. In the 128 years that the company has existed, it has always been at the forefront of development, and in 2022, VanDerEng is making great strides together with its customers towards a sustainable future.

By: Edgar Kruize | photos: iMediate, Steven van Kooijk

To put it bluntly, VanDerEng has evolved ‘from fish to party’. When the company was founded in 1894 by the Van Der Eng family, it was a sawmill that has increasingly specialized in wooden labels for the fishing industry. Gradually, horticulture, butchery and construction were also added, and eventually the switch to plastic was made in the 1960s. 15 years ago, the event industry also became an important market.

Exploring new possibilities is in our DNA.

“Curiosity and exploring new possibilities is inextricably linked to this company, it’s in the DNA,” says Jos de Vries, who is responsible for marketing at VanDerEng. “We always look wide. We take innovations from one sector to another. Labels for e.g. horticulture can be very well used for events and products from the festival market can often also be further developed for sporting events. VanDerEng is known for being able to provide our customers with the right products quickly and efficiently.”

Essential products

The latter is often needed in the event industry, laughs De Vries. “The organizers obviously have a lot on their minds and must realize a complete infrastructure for their event. Our products – bracelets, coins or, for example, race numbers – are usually ‘low-in-mind’. This does not mean that customers never think about these products or do not consider the added value important, on the contrary. It is simply that these entrepreneurs are mainly concerned with the content of their productions or the organization of their events: it is ‘top-of-mind’ for them. And VanDerEng understands this all too well, so we actively think about it, and we will always contact organizers who are our customers in good time. Sometimes you get the reaction with a smile ‘Oh, there they are again!’, but it’s always appreciated, because our products are essential for especially many small and medium-sized events. We strive to relieve all our customers all year round by providing information, relevant products, services, ideas and advice in a timely manner. It is crystal clear for both the customer and the supplier: VanDerEng’s products and services are an essential link for successful payment transactions (coins) and successful personal identification (wristbands and bib numbers) at their event.”

Our products are essential for many small and medium-sized events in particular.

Fast and reliable

Commercial manager Jeffrey Daalhuizen adds that VanDerEng has had one of the busiest summers of events ever. “The industry was able to get back to work after two corona years, and we have noticed that. The demand was much greater than we had expected, both from our regular customers and from a large number of new customers. We are proud to report that we were able to accommodate almost all requests.”

The latter has everything to do with the way VanDerEng’s machinery is set up. The production of bracelets started fifteen years ago and the website Polsbandenfabriek.nl was created for this purpose. The industrial production capabilities make it possible to produce wristbands with a full-color design provided by the organizer at high speed within one working day. In addition, there are brittle coins, injection-molded coins, start numbers and special product-oriented websites such as Muntjesfabriek.nl and Startnummerfabriek.nl.

We dare say that we are the fastest, most reliable and most flexible provider in the Benelux.

VanDerEng is the only manufacturer in the Benelux that manufactures everything in-house, has access to digital printing machines and has a very significant stock of semi-finished products. Daalhuizen: “We dare to say that we are the fastest, most reliable and most flexible provider in the Benelux.”

Jeffrey Daalhuizen and Jos de Vries from VanDerEng

Optimize continuously

That VanDerEng can change so quickly is also part of their DNA. Traditionally, the company has continually optimized production processes. This means that the machinery is largely developed and built in-house. Customers can order coins, bracelets or bib numbers immediately and without too much effort – independently or with the help of VanDerEng’s advisers – and the production process can thus be started quickly.

Daalhuizen: “This enables us as a company to optimize our customers’ business processes. Our pre-printed tokens and ribbons can be ordered quickly, but customers can also easily create their own design online or upload their own design. With this in mind, VanDerEng has invested heavily in recent years in a fully developed full-colour printing plant and expertise in DTP and graphic design. We are always looking for optimization in all areas.”

Sustainable business

Based on this urge for optimization, entrepreneurship with minimal pressure on the surroundings and the environment has also been looked at for years. Coins and bands sometimes still have the name of being environmentally friendly, but at the same time they will remain inextricably linked to the event industry for years to come, says Daalhuizen. “Let’s face it, plastic doesn’t dump itself in nature,” he says. “People do. So there is definitely still work to be done in that area. But as a company, we also contribute by producing as optimally as possible and at the same time having the lowest possible CO2 footprint.”

This is not something VanDerEng has started recently. Long before the concept of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ was introduced in the business world, people were already working on more sustainable production. Jos de Vries explains that a strategy has been put in place where employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and operating results are actively taken into account.

“Being sensible with the environment is quite a challenge for a plastics processing company. But of course that does not mean that we should not do it. VanDerEng has already built up the necessary experience in research into biodegradable raw materials, for example in cooperation with Wageningen University & Research . “But we believe that it is not only a matter of time for everyone to consider, but also a matter of necessity to continue to think carefully about this and to continue to take action,” De Vries said. “Undoubtedly, there will also be European legislation that further stimulates sustainability at events, we are already fully ready for that.”

‘Zero waste’

VanDerEng BV has now grown into an internationally leading company in the development and production of sustainable and recycled plastic labels and tokens. In 2021, the next step was taken in this area by introducing the ‘Environmental Challenge 2025’. When handling and applying plastic, there is a focus on ‘zero-waste’ and the use of recycled products. Substantial investments have already been made in recycling equipment to convert the residual stream released from the punching of all productions into raw material for injection molding. The injection molding machines are used to produce new products such as consumer coins, but also shopping cart tokens and labels for horticulture. As a result, around 30 percent of the residual flow can be used for new products. The remaining 70 percent can be utilized by incorporating it back into the production of new foils for die-cut products, such as horticultural labels. So ‘zero-waste’.

Sustainable alternatives

Daalhuizen explains that part of the residual flow, primarily small amounts of waste and waste, is mixed into a varied composition of materials. “They are used for the production of so-called ECO products. The ECO consumer coins – which are not all exactly the same color due to the use of residual materials – are a very good example of this. But also, for example, our deposit ‘tokens’ are a good example. These are made from 100 percent recycled products.”

These coins are part of a larger plan. VanDerEng’s New Business Development program works on a selection of product development projects targeting the use of sustainable and recycled alternatives. A novelty in this area are the 100 percent recycled PE wristbands, which feel as soft as Tyvek.

Those interested can familiarize themselves with it at the Festivak fair. The variant with sustainable breaking coins is also presented there. It consists of 85 percent recycled material.

Coins and bracelets undoubtedly have a sustainable future ahead of them.

De Vries: “Thanks to the use of our residual streams and the production of and from recycled materials, VanDerEng can reduce its CO2 footprint step by step. For example, the roof is filled with solar panels and the carbon footprint has already been reduced by 69 percent in 2021 by purchasing green electricity. We are not all doing it because it is ‘modern’, but from the full conviction that lives in this company that this is the only way forward for our planet and therefore also for events. Coins and bracelets are not going away any time soon, as far as we are concerned they have a sustainable future ahead of them.”

Jeffrey Daalhuizen

Recycle 100 percent together

In order to convey that message, VanDerEng also wants to seek more cooperation with events that share the same philosophy, and which in turn can translate this to their customers and visitors. VanDerEng has found a wonderful application for punching waste via the ECO coin. This is not only guaranteed to be made from 100 percent recycled material, but can also be recycled after use. After washing, drying and grinding again, this material can be prevented from having to be burned. Daalhuizen: “Customer and supplier reduce their footprint together with such products and in this way contribute to a circular economy.”

De Vries adds that they are now also putting the ball in the hands of the organizers to contribute to a more sustainable use of products. “VanDerEng hereby invites everyone to send used utility bills to VanDerEng. In this way, this waste stream is processed into a new product!”

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