Cascades answers the most frequently asked questions regarding the situation of COVID-19.
Cascades manufactures products that play an essential role in the daily lives of families and in its customers’ supply chains. Through our recovery and recycling activities, our hygiene products and our packaging that enables food and many other essential goods to be shipped, protected and preserved, we make a difference in the lives of many of our fellow citizens. So our activities have been deemed “essential” or “necessary to sustain life” by the various government authorities. In other words, our operations must continue in order to make life easier for people and other businesses deemed essential.
Both in normal times and times of crisis, Cascades cares about its employees and has always been committed to protecting their health and safety. So, since the start of this crisis, we have made sure that they are working in a healthy, safe environment. Based on the recommendations of the public health authorities, we have put in place a number of organizational and sanitary measures, such as:
- requiring employees to practice social distancing;
- implementing more frequent, recognized cleaning and disinfection procedures at workstations and in common areas;
- establishing additional common areas (cafeteria, locker rooms) to maintain physical distancing;
- setting up additional handwashing stations;
- keeping the number of visitors to an absolute minimum and monitoring the presence of external contractors;
- banning entry to our facilities by individuals exhibiting symptoms;
- introducing customized safety equipment.
Furthermore, in order to prevent the specific risks associated with our recovery operations, Cascades has implemented a series of additional preventive measures specific to this sector. Our sorters use protective equipment specifically adapted to their work, allowing them to continue their essential role safely.
Employees with symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty breathing) or who have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive or is currently under investigation are immediately removed from the workplace and must contact public health (Canada) or their doctor (United States). Our health centre of expertise is also notified immediately. They must self-isolate for 14 days (even with a negative COVID-19 test).
Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 are kept away from the workplace until their recovery is medically confirmed. An employee testing positive triggers the cleaning and disinfection procedure. A list is also drawn up of all the employees who have had direct contact with the employee since the symptoms began. The above measures then apply to them as well.
As a precaution, employees with a serious chronic illness, employees over age 70 and pregnant women have been excluded from the workplace.
Until further notice, no visitors are allowed at our facilities unless they are essential to maintaining operations. In such cases, social distancing rules must be observed by the parties concerned. All essential visitors must fill out a form 72 hours before their arrival. If all the answers are negative, the visit can be approved by the contact person indicated on the form and the form must be kept by the unit for verification purposes.
Because it is essential that our facilities continue to operate, we remain very vigilant about any disruption in our supply chain.
The health and safety of our employees and their families remain a top priority and all necessary measures are being taken to protect their well-being. In the unlikely event that production is interrupted at one of our plants despite all these precautions, we have established contingency plans to transfer customers’ orders to other production units. We have also prepared a list of potential employees, for key production positions at the different plants, who could possibly help if there is a staffing shortage.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have kept our customers informed of all these measures by regularly communicating with them. Similarly, we are in constant contact with our suppliers to ensure their support in fulfilling our responsibilities.
At present, our facilities are fully operational and we have not experienced any significant disruption in our operations. Our management team continues to monitor the situation closely and is ready to provide operational support, if necessary, to ensure uninterrupted service. This crisis involves many uncontrollable factors and risks, but we are confident that we have taken all necessary measures to mitigate the virus’s impact on our operations.
Despite the instability caused by the current situation, Cascades has taken several measures to secure its supply chain. In particular, it has communicated with the key parties in the chain to evaluate their preparedness and to ensure they can continue supplying us and have developed contingency plans in case they become necessary. Where possible, Cascades has also increased its inventory and maximized its capacity. As well, specific contingency plans have been developed in all units to allow alternate strategies to be implemented if necessary.
The various economic slowdown measures adopted by the governments to fight the pandemic have impacted the amount of recyclable materials generated. Given that 83% of the raw materials normally used by Cascades are recycled, certain product lines may, on an exceptional basis, use more virgin materials than usual.
Cascades needs the support of its suppliers to keep fulfilling its responsibilities. It is essential that they continue to meet their obligations to minimize any interruptions in the supply chain. Cascades expects all of its suppliers to:
- implement preventive measures for COVID-19 as well as a pandemic emergency plan;
- maintain a work schedule enabling them to supply the required goods and services as usual;
- quickly advise Cascades of any inability to operate because of contamination or the implementation of government-ordered restrictive measures.
Many companies that did not have the privilege of having their operations recognized as essential have temporarily ceased operations and had to lay off employees. Fortunately, this was not the case for Cascades, which the governments recognized has a social and economic responsibility. However, amid the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we must continue to manage cautiously so as to protect the financial well-being of the company. We have a responsibility to our employees and shareholders in this regard.
Cascades is following the instructions of the various levels of government as well as its health centre of expertise. It can also draw on the experience of its plants in Europe, particularly Italy, as well as measures that have been implemented and made it possible to prevent workplace infections and to operate our plants without interruption.
Cascades already produces products considered essential and intends to continue doing so to support its customers and partners, as well as consumers and the communities where it has facilities. At the same time, where possible, the company is collaborating on several innovative projects to meet needs created by the pandemic, like the plastic supplied by our Inopak plant in Drummondville to produce a new medical face shield intended for healthcare workers, in particular.
Cascades has always been involved in the communities where its plants are located. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new needs to which the company has also responded. Among other things, our company has supplied plastic needed to produce over one million medical face shields and made its mobile units available to truckers. To learn more about these initiatives, see the section “Cascades is committed to the fight against COVID-19”.