Sustainable action – an important part of corporate culture
For decades, sustainability has been an important part of Geberit’s corporate culture. A firmly established sustainability strategy ensures that the objectives are measurable, making a significant contribution to the business success in the process. The focus of sustainable business management is on water-saving and durable products, resource-saving and environmentally friendly production, procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards, and on good, safe working conditions for all employees worldwide. Geberit also exercises its social responsibility just as consistently, through the continuance of its own social projects as well as its partnership with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas.
Water management is a global challenge
Approved by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals comprise 17 specific targets and indicators which countries are required to implement by 2030. The business world plays a pivotal role in implementing these targets and indicators. The goal calling for equitable access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for all people worldwide is of particular importance to Geberit. The company also focuses on the goals concerning “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure” and “Sustainable Cities and Communities”. In cities and globally expanding urban areas, water-saving, resource-efficient and reliable sanitary technology plays an important role. As a globally operating company, Geberit advocates sustainable design and development and a robust infrastructure in cities and in rural areas.
Sparing, careful use of water as a valuable resource is one of Geberit’s core areas of focus. A Geberit value chain analysis in the form of a water footprint shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to the product usage phase. The following water footprint chart also includes the impact of ceramic cisterns for the first time.
Water footprint throughout the value chain in 2017
Provision of raw materials
0.15% of the total amount of water is required in the manufacture of raw materials for products.
A mere 0.03% of the water is used in the manufacture of products in 2017.
The greatest water consumption by far occurs during the use of products manufactured in 2017 during their entire service life (cisterns, urinal flushing systems and lavatory taps).
0.01% of the total amount of water is used for disposal of products.
A growing focus on green building
Green building is becoming ever more important in both the public and private construction sector, with European standards that define the use of sustainable products and systems in buildings gaining in significance. More and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards such as LEED, DGNB, Minergie or BREEAM. Consequently, there is demand among investors, project developers, owners and tenants for system providers with comprehensive know-how in green building which will enable the relevant standards to be met. Geberit is addressing this demand with water-saving, energy-saving, low-noise and durable products, thereby positioning itself in the front line with regard to green building, as numerous green building reference projects prove. For example, Raffles City was opened in the commercial centre of Hangzhou (CN) during the reporting year. The whole block of buildings, which boasts a floor area of almost 400,000 m2 and has achieved LEED Gold certification, is home to a hotel as well as office and retail space and apartments. Furthermore, a new Vitsoe furniture production facility was built in Leamington (UK). The new headquarters of the furniture company (founded in 1959) is considered a flagship project when it comes to sustainability.
Sustainability means long-term value added
Geberit is committed to a binding sustainability strategy that is closely linked to the company’s core areas of focus.
A total of eleven sustainability modules continue to form the basis of this strategy. Among these are green procurement, green logistics, environmental management in production, occupational safety, eco-design in product development and social responsibility.
Since 2007, a sustainability performance review of the Geberit Group has been prepared annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). An internal process to define the essential aspects of sustainability at Geberit was the key starting point when introducing the GRI G4 guidelines. The materiality analysis reviewed by an external stakeholder panel in 2016 as well as the sustainability strategy and related communication were applied without any changes and pursued further in the reporting year.
All aspects of the GRI G4 guidelines can be found in the Sustainability Performance Report for 2017. The information disclosed within the scope of this report fulfils the “comprehensive” transparency grade set out in the GRI G4 guidelines, as verified by GRI.
Since 2008, Geberit has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact – a global agreement between businesses and the UN designed to make globalisation more socially responsible and environmentally friendly. A Communication on Progress regarding measures in the areas of human rights, labour practices, environmental protection and anti-corruption is submitted annually. Geberit is also a member of the local network of the UN Global Compact. The Code of Conduct for Employees and the Code of Conduct for Suppliers further incorporate the topic of sustainability. Continuously improved compliance processes ensure compliance with guidelines and directives. In addition, a system for the control and management of all risks involved in entrepreneurial activities is in place throughout the Group. For more information, see Risk management.
The activities in terms of sustainable business management are rewarded by the capital market. Geberit is strongly represented in the sustainability stock indices and sustainability funds segment. For example, the share is a component of the STOXX Europe Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good 100 Index Series. Renowned sustainability funds also hold the shares in their portfolios. Geberit wants to continue to play a pivotal role in the “Sustainability” and “Water” investment segments, which are still gaining in importance.
Sustainable technology and innovation processes
Sustainability is an integral part of the technology and innovation processes at Geberit. This is why the eco-design approach has been consistently applied since 2007 as part of the Group’s innovation and development process. All environmental aspects are examined, from the selection of raw materials right through to disposal. Every new product must be better than its predecessor from an ecological perspective. An example here is the new fill valve type 333, which despite requiring fewer resources to manufacture (the product is 15% lighter; 20% of the plastic in the valve is recycled material) is also flow-optimised and quiet.
Product life cycle assessments are important decision-making tools for the development processes, providing arguments for the use of resource-efficient products. Geberit has produced detailed life cycle assessments for various important products, with 2017 also seeing such assessments produced for Sanitary Ceramics for the first time. The environmental product declarations (EPDs) in accordance with the European standard EN 15804 are also becoming increasingly important and can also be used directly for green building standards such as LEED. The EPD present relevant, comparable and verified information about a product’s environmental performance in a transparent manner.