Long-term, sustainable value creation
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, is now an integral part of the corporate culture, and is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. 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. A total of twelve sustainability modules form the basis here. Among these are occupational health and safety, social responsibility, conservation of resources, energy and CO2 reduction, eco-design and green procurement.
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 2020
Provision of raw materials
0.15% 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 2020 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. Four new EPDs for the new FlowFit drinking water system were compiled in the reporting year: two EPDs for the fittings (one for the plastic fittings and one for the metal fittings) and one EPD each for the multilayer pipes and plastic pipes. There was also an EPD update for the AquaClean Mera shower toilet.
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.
Support for the circular economy
Thanks to 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). In general, the use of recycled plastics in production is continuously being driven forward. In future, recycled material should also be partly used in applications involving polypropylene (PP), for example.
Reducing the use of packaging material
The goal of using less packaging material is followed continuously in various areas of production and logistics. For example, packaging of the sanitary flush unit has been optimised by dispensing with the polystyrene insert (leading to a 35% reduction in packaging volume) and using only recyclable cardboard boxes (which makes disposal easier). This results in savings of around 33 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Careful handling of plastics
In 2020, Geberit joined Operation Clean Sweep (OCS). OCS is an international initiative promoted by the plastics industry dedicated to preventing the loss of plastic granules, flakes and powder and ensuring that these materials do not pollute the environment. By joining the initiative, Geberit commits itself to ensuring that plastic granules do not pollute the environment, among other aspects. All Geberit plants that process plastics take part in the initiative and are obliged to define and implement improvements.
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. The CleanLine shower channel is one example of this. Significant material savings amounting to 85% less stainless steel per shower channel were achieved as part of the product development. Furthermore, it was also possible to significantly reduce the amount of packaging material. Compared to the predecessor model, these measures led to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions of around 7,300 tonnes in total.