An initial environmental strategy was tabled and specific measures implemented at Geberit as far back as 1990. Over the years, this strategy was gradually developed into a comprehensive Sustainability strategy, which is now an integral part of the corporate culture. The sustainability strategy bundles together current and future projects, initiatives and activities, and contains clear responsibilities with measurable objectives, derived measures and quantifiable key figures for effective monitoring. In this strategy, aspects relating to employees and society, plus the environment and economy are given equal consideration.
Focus on four global goals
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 – with significant support from the business world. Four of these goals are particularly important to Geberit. The goal calling for “equitable access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation” for all people worldwide is key to the company’s efforts, as is the goal of “sustainable cities and communities”. With its durable sanitary technology, an important contribution is also made towards “developing robust infrastructures” and promoting “sustainable industrialisation”.
Sparing, careful use of water as a valuable resource is one of Geberit’s core areas of focus. An analysis of Geberit’s entire value chain in the form of a water footprint shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to the product use phase.
Water footprint throughout the value chain in 2019
Provision of raw materials
0.16% of the total amount of water was required in the manufacture of raw materials for products.
A mere 0.02% of the water was used in the manufacture of products.
The greatest water consumption by far occurs during the use of products manufactured in 2019 during their entire service life (cisterns, urinal flushing systems and washbasin taps).
Less than 0.01% of the total amount of water was used for the disposal of products.
Green building supported by digitalisation
Green building is becoming ever more important. More and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards such as LEED, DGNB, Minergie or BREEAM. As they increase transparency and are intended to provide data relating to sustainability, these standards also influence the planning processes in sanitary technology. For many years, Geberit has been creating product life cycle assessments and externally inspected environmental product declarations (EPDs) in accordance with the European standard EN 15804. EPDs present relevant, comparable and verified information about a product’s environmental performance in a transparent manner. One EPD for the Geberit AquaClean Sela shower toilet was newly compiled in the reporting year.
In order to meet the increased demand for digitally available data, a medium- to long-term goal is the creation of a “material passport” for each individual product. This contains information on the product materials used and the associated ecological footprint.
Designed for the long term
Thanks to their top-class materials and strict quality requirements, Geberit products have a service life spanning several decades. Furthermore, they are usually backwards-compatible and can be cleaned, maintained and repaired easily. A significant proportion of the product range also has a guaranteed spare parts availability of up to 25 years. In production, the goal is to close internal material cycles, and to minimise waste and recycle it where appropriate. Additionally, plastics processing plants are also working towards constantly increasing the share of bought-in plastic regranulate used (post-consumer waste).
Permanent added value
The binding Sustainability strategy – which is closely linked to the company’s values and core areas of focus as well as the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations – ensures that the objectives are measurable and that a significant contribution to the success of the company is thus guaranteed. A total of twelve sustainability modules form the basis of this strategy. Among these are occupational health and safety, social responsibility, conservation of resources, energy and CO2 reduction, eco-design and green procurement.
Since 2007, a sustainability performance report of the Geberit Group has been prepared annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). This has been carried out according to the new GRI Standards since 2018. The information disclosed within the scope of this report has been compiled in accordance with the “Comprehensive” option contained in the GRI Standards. The sustainability reporting has been subjected to and has successfully completed the GRI Materiality Disclosures Service, see GRI label and formal GRI Content Index. All aspects of the GRI Standards can be found in the Sustainability Performance Report for 2019. The materiality analysis reviewed by an external stakeholder panel in 2018 as well as the sustainability strategy have been further developed.
Geberit has been a member of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact since 2008. The purpose of this worldwide agreement between companies and the UN is to place globalisation on a more social and ecological footing. 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.
Eco-design as an integral part of each development process
The eco-design approach has been consistently applied at Geberit 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 should be better than its predecessor from an ecological perspective.
Greater importance of sustainable business management for the capital market
The activities in terms of sustainable business management are recognised 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 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.