Business report > Business and financial review
Sustainable thinking as part of the Geberit culture
As the European market leader in the sanitary industry, Geberit stands for clear objectives and their successful implementation as well as visible pioneering projects with a view to resource efficiency, economic water consumption and green building. The Group has been proving for decades that long-term business success is compatible with environmentally friendly and socially responsible action. Sustainable business management helps cut costs while at the same time minimizing risks. In this respect, Geberit aims to be a role model and to set standards for customers, suppliers and other partners. This applies to water-saving, sustainable products; safe, environmentally friendly and resource-efficient production; procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards, and good working conditions for the more than 6,000 committed and competent employees worldwide. Geberit's corporate social responsibility is realized among other things within the scope of global social aid projects relating to its core competence of water and is intensified through partnerships such as that with Swiss WaterKiosk aimed at supplying the population in Bangladesh with drinking water. There is also a long-term partnership with the Swiss development organization Helvetas.
Water as scarce future commodity
With its Millennium Development Goals of 2000, the United Nations intends by 2015 to halve the number of people without access to clean drinking water and sanitary installations. This demonstrates the great importance of the topic of water for world health, world nutrition and peacekeeping. The increase in the world’s population, migration, urbanization, climate change and natural catastrophes can lead to regions that are currently well supplied with water becoming problem regions in the future. These global trends will have a significant impact on future sanitary technology: Water-saving, resource-efficient products are becoming increasingly important. Geberit is the industry's sustainability leader and makes use of its know-how to set industry-wide standards for water conservation. For example, it has actively promoted reducing the applicable norm for the diameter of waste water piping systems. This is important for ensuring that the pipes still have sufficient water carriage capacity in view of increasingly economic technologies and lower volumes of waste water. Smaller pipe dimensions require less material and space and offer enhanced performance with small quantities of waste water.
Geberit also supported the launch in 2011 of WELL (Water Efficiency Label), a product classification system for water-saving and resource-efficient products that serves as an information and orientation aid for purchasing decisions. More and more Geberit products are being classified. The seven product groups represented in the top A class (highest classification category) already account for just under 20% of Group sales. The water-efficiency labels are being attached to Geberit product packages and specified in the catalogs as of 2013. Increasing numbers of customers also wish to benefit from Geberit"s expertise as sustainability leader. For example, in 2012 two major European customers, Saint Gobain (FR) and the GC Group (DE), made use of Geberit"s best practice experience in the fields of eco-design and sustainability for their internal training programs.
Water footprint throughout the value chain (2012)
is required in the manufacture
of raw materials for Geberit
used in the manufacturing of
products at Geberit in 2012.
by far occurs during the use of
Geberit products manufactured
in 2012 during their entire service
life (cisterns, urinal flushing
systems and lavatory taps).
water is used for the disposal of
→ Green building has long been more than just a trend. European norms in this area are becoming more and more important and new standards are setting out the basic rules for environmental declarations for products within the construction industry. Geberit published the first Environmental Product Declaration for lavatory taps in 2012; others are set to follow. Investors, project developers, owners and tenants are increasingly looking for service providers with holistic expertise regarding green building. This is opening up a future market with major potential in which Geberit is present with water and energy-saving, low-noise and durable products that meet sustainable construction standards. The Group is well positioned as a leading system provider of sanitary solutions in green building and plays an active role in the relevant associations. The importance of the topic is also reflected in numerous green building reference projects in which Geberit products are installed. The reporting year saw the completion of some architecturally impressive examples such as the Vodafone headquarters in Milan (IT). Various Geberit products such as concealed cisterns and waste water piping systems are integrated into the sustainable super complex (also known as “the Vodafone Village”). The six-story → city hall in Viborg (DK) fulfills all the requirements of a green building. The roof drainage system from Geberit made a substantial contribution toward meeting the strict sustainability requirements concerning the use of rainwater. The new → National Stadium in Warsaw (PL) also has a sustainable water supply thanks to Geberit's know-how: The stadium's 2,100 or so toilets and urinals are equipped with water-saving and long-life concealed flushing systems.
Geberit's positioning as a sustainable company is playing an increasingly important role in various stakeholder groups' expectations, as is reflected by a large number of awards → Awards.
The consistent implementation of the sustainability strategy is an essential guideline for the development of all internal organizational units. The strategy focuses on individual sustainability modules. Among these are → green procurement, → Green Logistics, → environmental management in production, → occupational safety, → eco-design in product development and → social-aid projects. Each module contains a clear objective, derived measures and quantified key figures for effective monitoring. Overall, objectives were achieved to a great extent in 2012. For more information, see the → sustainability strategy.
Geberit is committed to internationally recognized principles of sustainability and since 2008 has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a global agreement between businesses and the UN designed to make globalization more socially responsible and environmentally friendly. → Communication on progress regarding measures in the areas of human rights, labor practices, environmental protection and combating corruption is submitted annually. Geberit is also a member of the local Swiss network of the UN Global Compact. The formal anchoring of the subject of sustainability is reinforced by the → Code of Conduct for Employees and the → Code of Conduct for Suppliers. Compliance with the directives is ensured by continuously improved compliance processes. In addition, an extensive system for the control and management of all risks involved in entrepreneurial activities is in place throughout the Group. For more information, see → Corporate Governance, 3. Board of Directors, Information and Control Instruments vis-à-vis the Group Executive Board.
A sustainability performance review is published annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). All aspects of the guidelines can be found in the → Sustainability Performance Report. When preparing the sustainability reporting for 2012, an external stakeholder panel was initiated and consulted for the first time. Its mandate consisted of providing feedback on the company's sustainability strategy and reporting, as well as reviewing whether the key topics were included in the sustainability reporting and whether the needs of the stakeholder groups were taken into consideration. The results are summarized in a panel statement. The information disclosed within the scope of the report and the review by the external panel both fulfill the maximum transparency grade A+ set out in the GRI guidelines, as has been verified and confirmed by GRI (see → GRI-Statement).
The efforts in terms of sustainable corporate management are also being rewarded by the capital market. At the end of 2012, more than 10% of Geberit stock was held by sustainability-conscious investors. Geberit is well represented in the sustainability stock indices and sustainability funds segment. Thus Geberit shares are listed in the STOXX Europe Sustainability Index as well as the FTSE4Good Index (Europe/Global), in which the Geberit share is among the supersector leaders in Construction & Materials. In addition, renowned sustainability funds hold Geberit shares in their portfolios. Geberit's objective is to continue to play a significant role in the future in the “Sustainability” and “Water” investment segments that are still gaining in importance. The fact that, in the reporting year, Geberit received several awards in the German-speaking world for clear and transparent communication with its various stakeholder groups underlines the fulfillment of this objective.
Saving water with Geberit products
With industry-leading research and development, Geberit has for decades concentrated on environmentally friendly products and meeting the needs of the worldwide growth market for green building. The products also impress thanks to their high recyclability and environmental compatibility. The Company's greatest environmental achievement, however, is a result of its contribution to the increasingly important global topic of water conservation. According to one model calculation, the entire dual-flush and flush-stop “fleet of cisterns” produced since 1998 has so far saved around 13,800 million cubic meters of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2012 alone, the water saved amounted to 1,850 million cubic meters. This is more than half of the annual consumption of all German households.
The basis for sustainable products is a systematic innovation process in which the most environmentally friendly materials possible are chosen, risks are minimized along the value chain and a high level of resource efficiency is targeted for both the production process and the usage of the product. Eco-design workshops, in which different disciplines cooperate and ensure that every new product outperforms its predecessor in environmental aspects, are an integral part of the early development phase. Specially created product life cycle assessments are important decision-making aids in this respect and provide arguments for the use of products that conserve resources in construction projects. Detailed life cycle assessments have already been prepared for the following products: drainage/supply pipes, AquaClean 8000plus, electronic lavatory taps of type 185/186, concealed cisterns and urinal flush control. For the first time an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) was issued in accordance with the new European norm EN 15804. The new EPD for lavatory taps provides relevant, comparable and verified information about the environmental performance of the product. Environmental declarations for other products are in the pipeline and will support the Company's clear positioning as a provider of system solutions for green building.
Eight products with WELL label
The WELL label (Water Efficiency Label) introduced in 2011 by the European umbrella organization for faucet manufacturers (EUnited) is intended to address the growing environmental awareness of consumers. It takes its direction from the well-known and well-established efficiency labels for electrical household appliances and fulfills a similar function. WELL provides consumers with information about the product's water efficiency at a glance. The new classification system will also encourage responsible use of water as a resource. WELL uses a scale of A to D for products for home use and A to F for products for use in public areas. Eight Geberit product groups (comprising over 330 sales products) already bore the WELL label in the reporting year, seven of which are represented in the top A class and one in the B class. This also includes one of the most important products in the Geberit range, the Sigma concealed cistern.
All production sites and logistics are subject to systematic, Group-wide environmental management and certified in accordance with → ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. Certification for the entire Group was extended for a further three years in 2012. A comprehensive corporate eco-balance is prepared each year as the basis for targeted measures to improve environmental performance. Systematic controlling will be supported as of 2013 through a newly launched software program for Group-wide monitoring of the corporate eco-balance, the master plan energy and occupational safety.
Although currency-adjusted Group sales rose by 4.5% in the reporting year, the absolute environmental impact over the same period declined by a marked 5.1% (previous year: increase of 0.4%). The consumption of energy in the form of electricity, combustibles and fuels represents Geberit's greatest environmental impact. Despite the sales growth, the consumption of electricity fell in 2012 (113.4 GWh; previous year 114.2 GWh). The Company likewise consumed lower volumes of the combustibles natural gas (38.1 GWh compared to 42.9 GWh in the previous year) and heating oil (0.24 GWh compared to 0.40 GWh in the previous year). However, fuel consumption increased slightly (17.9 GWh compared to 17.3 GWh in the previous year). The sharp increase in the procurement of green electricity (20 GWh compared to 13 GWh in the previous year) and the deployment for the first time of 9.4 GWh of biogas reduced the environmental impact and CO2 emissions, as did numerous technical measures. The number of injection molding machines retrofitted with energy-efficient drive technology (reduction in energy consumption of up to 50%) rose from 28 to 74 in 2012. The powder coating facility launched in the German plant of Lichtenstein in the middle of the year enabled productivity to be increased significantly and the energy consumption per component produced to be cut by around 40%, while simultaneously reducing the use of hazardous substances.
CO2 emissions in 2012 amounted to 71,853 metric tons (previous year 76,903 metric tons). The ratio of CO2 emissions to currency-adjusted sales was reduced by 10.6%. This enabled the targets set out in the long-term → CO2 strategy to be met. The growing use of renewable energies plays a significant role here. In 2012 the amount of green electricity supplied to the largest production site in Pfullendorf (DE) was increased by another 2 GWh to 12 GWh. A further increase of 2 GWh is planned for 2013. The Daishan site in China used about 3 GWh of wind power in the reporting year, which corresponds to approximately 60% of the plant's energy consumption. The share of renewable energies in combustibles is also being gradually increased. The commissioning in 2012 of the combined → block heating station in Pfullendorf (DE) that is fed with 9.4 GWh of regionally generated biogas, represents a milestone. Ongoing effective initiatives also contributed to the improved CO2 balance: the master plan energy for saving energy and enhancing energy efficiency at the production plants, and the binding requirements for energy-efficient, low-emission new vehicles and the associated lowering of CO2 emissions for new vehicles by 10% every three years until 2012. For the first time the CO2 emissions caused by air travel were measured: In the reporting year they came to 603 tons. All the corresponding targets and measures are disclosed in detail as part of the company's participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (COP).
Successes were also achieved with respect to other environmental factors. Internal water consumption, for which Geberit acts as a role model, is at a very low level thanks to the exploitation of far-reaching savings potential. Targeted improvements contribute to the careful handling of water resources: Examples include the reuse of water in laboratories and the optimization of fresh water test runs in development. Altogether 136,669 cubic meters of water were consumed in the reporting year (previous year 130,037 cubic meters). The total amount of waste disposed of came to 12,185 metric tons (previous year 11,516 metric tons), with 85% (previous year 84%) sent to external recycling processes. Individual examples serve to illustrate significant progress achieved here over the years: In Weilheim (DE), production waste was reduced by 80% within five years, above all through the deployment of a new foaming plant. The pioneering project was tested and implemented in several stages. Core aspects include cleaning with rainwater, which is added to the foaming process as process water, and the prevention of residue accumulation in the plant thanks to enhanced cleaning cycles.
Geberit invested in the energy-efficient infrastructure of tomorrow through appropriate planning for its new buildings. These efforts include the development of a comprehensive energy strategy for the new production plant in Slovenia and the implementation of the use of rainwater, external shading and enhanced ventilation and cooling at the new production plant in India.