Why does a French envelope manufacturer have 12 beehives on its roof?

Published on February 13, 2013 in Blog, Manufacturing
This post is about Pocheco, a French envelope producer that’s committed to showing how their products can be produced more sustainably as well as more cheaply. Kitty de Bruin visited the company and spoke to them about their achievements and plans…


Pocheco are based in an old textile plant in Forest sur Marque, near Lille. They have 114 employees, run three shifts, and produce 2 billion envelopes  per year which are used for direct mail. They have 70% of the  French market, with customers such as the telecommunications industry, the major banks, insurance companies and public administrations.

Since 1997, Mr Emmanuel Druon has been CEO of the company and he has changed the business model significantly. Each process has been carefully studied, and is being improved on three pillars:

1.    Reducing the environmental impact and prevention of pollution.
2.    Reducing the risk at work and lowering the burden of work.
3.    Making financial profit by improving the productivity of the plant and the activity.




The company’s actions include…


Solar roof

Pocheco invested 2 million euros in a roof with hybrid solar panels and a rain capture system used for the processes in the plant and the toilets. As a result the company saves 200,000 euro per year, so the ROI is 10 years. They also have twelve beehives on the plant covered roof, and give their employees training how to become beekeepers. The main image show some of the recent honey haul!



The raw materials come from Finland or France and all are from renewable resources. The pulp used to make the paper is from European forests which are managed with respect for their biodiversity, and the inks are made from natural pigments and contain no solvents or heavy metals. For each used tree, three trees are replanted, leading to a growth of 4.2 % per year of the European Forest.

The envelopes (100 % recyclable) are now made with  a window of paper instead of plastic. This reduced plastic use by 68%.


Evironmental impacts of production

The ink system has been changed by mixing the colours on the site, which has lead to less ink usage. A ‘purification prairie’ with bamboo is used to filter the ink and glue residue.

Pocheco have invented a system which packages envelopes on a reel which is for transporting them, and they convince their custumers to use this system too.

All of the waste paper generated by the factory is sorted and recycled.



As measured by the bilan carbone® (Carbon footprint) method from the ADEME and by the Institution de Formation Carbone (IFC)…

Raw material reduction – the company has invested in more ergonomic systems, reducing use of raw materials to the tune of 93,000 euros per year  and saving 1,765 tonnes per year CO2.

Due to the renovation of the building, the use of solar panels and a more efficient use of electricity the energy savings are 344,100 euro per year, and a reduction in CO2 per year of 2,310 t/Eq/Co2.

Using the rain water, the roof and efficient use of the water systems has gained 19,439 pr year and reduced the carbon by 3,375 kg/Eq /CO.


In summary

The carbon footprint went from 6.2g CO2 (in 2010 ) to 5.7g CO2 ( 2011) per envelope and per year. Given they produce 2 billion envelopes per year, this is clearly significant!

Five consultants are now giving advice to their customers (POCHECO Canopée Conseil) and other companies about how enterprise can be sustainable and make profit longer term.

The company also supports an association (Pocheco Canopee Reforestation) where projects are developed to protect the agrcicultural areas from industrial and urban plots by planting hedges  (involving farmers and citizens) .

This company appear to take very seriously their environmental impact, which is visually described at the various stages in the production plant and in the office. They track their progess in improving this over time. Pocheco appear to be a genuine show case of how a traditional (highly polluting) industrial process can be transformed into something more environmental friendly. Mr Emmanuel Druon has a very good view of how companies can become environmental friendly, reduce their footprint on earth and still make money. He has published a book “Ecolonomies – doing business and producing in another way”, published by Pearson, at the moment only in French.


Certificates obtained between 1999 and 2007: The worldwide QSE certificate (Quality ISO 9001, Security OHSAS 18001, Environment ISO 14001), NF Environnement, FSC, PEFC, AFAQ Eco design evaluation: level 3.


Kitty de Bruin: Kitty worked 30 years in the computer business and telecom industry. She is a telework pioneer and  started in 1986 her first telework project. Co-founder and president in 1994 of the Dutch Teleworkforum. She moved to South West France in 2002 and started in 2009 a Transition Initiative in Salies de Bearn and is the creator (with a webmaster) and author of the French website www.transitionfrance.fr . At this momentKitty is writing a book together with her husband about the financial, economic, social and environmental crisis, caused by externalities and the solutions.

This post is part of our series of case studies of how existing organisations are attempting to address their environmental and social challenges.


Website and image credits: www.pocheco.com