CEO statement on sustainability

«For several decades, sustainability has been an integral part of Geberit’s culture. Our focus is on consistent implementation on an ongoing basis and with measurable results.»

Christian Buhl, CEO

Consistent and quantifiable

Climate change was one of the main social issues of 2019. In terms of climate change mitigation, Geberit wants to be proactive in setting itself the challenge of establishing long-term goals and achieving demonstrable improvements in this regard year after year. The groundwork for the current CO2 strategy was laid over ten years ago in 2007. The goal here is to reduce relative CO2 emissions by 5% each year. Back in 2017, we adopted the guidelines set out by the Science Based Targets Initiative in order to define a long-term reduction pathway and to reduce our absolute CO2 emissions to below 240,000 tonnes by 2021 as an interim goal. We have already achieved this goal by focusing on technical measure – such as saving energy and increasing energy efficiency – and on the targeted sourcing of high-quality renewable energies in terms of electricity and combustibles.

Comprehensive approach to sustainability

Although climate change mitigation is important to Geberit, it is just one of many key topics surrounding sustainability. For almost 150 years, our goal has been to improve people’s quality of life and to generate sustainable added value. Since 1990, we have thus followed a long-term environmental and sustainability strategy that includes ongoing and future projects, initiatives and activities. Each module in our sustainability strategy contains clear responsibilities with measurable objectives, derived measures and quantifiable key figures for effective monitoring. For example, for more than 25 years we have consistently measured our ecological footprint as part of a comprehensive corporate eco-balance, and use this as a basis on which to define our goals. Since the acquisition of Sanitec in 2015, we have reduced our relative environmental impact by 27.5%. As a result, we have exceeded the goal of improving our eco-efficiency by 5% each year.

Eco-design and circular thinking

Our environmentally friendly, resource-saving and durable products make a crucial contribution towards sustainability. We are therefore firm advocates of eco-design and develop our products consistently in line with its principle: At every stage of its respective life cycle – from the provision of raw materials to disposal – each product must be better than its predecessor from an ecological perspective. Eco-design has been an integral part of our development processes since 2007 and has already been adopted in more than 125 development projects. The basic principle of a circular economy has played an important role at Geberit for many years. What is key here is that our products must have a very long industrial service life, as many of them will be installed in buildings for decades. We also aim to minimise our consumption of energy and resources, close internal and external material cycles to the greatest extent possible and constantly increase the use of internal and external recycled materials. Thanks to first-class materials and strict quality requirements, our products have a service life spanning several decades. In addition, they are in some instances backwards-compatible, can be cleaned and maintained easily, and spare parts are available for up to 25 years for a significant proportion of the product range. In terms of packaging, care is taken to keep material use as low as possible and to use recyclable cardboard.

A responsibility towards young people

Every day, 11,619 employees go about their daily work at Geberit. In this respect, it is important that the Geberit performance culture is embraced by every employee. A great deal of hard work therefore went into the development of the valYOU project in 2019. This next-generation performance management process has been designed to meet the current challenges faced by HR managers and focuses on the individual development of employees within the company.

It is also important to us that we empower and bring in young talents. According to an apprentice ranking carried out in 2019, Geberit is one of the leading companies for apprentices in Switzerland and makes an important contribution to vocational training and to maintaining Switzerland’s reputation as a centre for training and education. Since 1963, Geberit has trained in excess of 500 apprentices in Switzerland and now trains apprentices in over eleven different skilled trades. Some 10% of the company’s employees currently working in Switzerland completed their apprenticeship at Geberit. Apprentices are also involved in our social projects. In 2019, ten apprentices and two coaches travelled to Cambodia to help renovate two schools there, including the installation of a new drinking water supply and sanitary facilities.

Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and support for the UN Global Compact

Through our operations, we are making a contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focussing on four of the 17 goals (see SDG Reporting). Among these, the sixth goal “Clean water and sanitation” is especially important, with Geberit providing solutions for efficient water usage and sustainable building as a driving force in the field of sanitary technology.

Geberit has been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2008 and is engaged in the area of environmental protection, responsible labour practices, human rights and the prevention of corruption. We provide information on our sustainability goals and performances in a transparent manner and in accordance with the GRI Standards’ “Comprehensive” reporting option as defined by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The Communication on Progress UN Global Compact for the financial year 2019 is available at > Company > Sustainability > UN Global Compact.

Christian Buhl, CEO


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