Annual Report 2021

Annual Report 2021



Further improvement of environmental performance at a high level in the reporting year

Geberit uses the Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method, which takes into consideration a wide range of environmental impact factors (emissions, resources, waste) and summarises them as a key figure. The absolute environmental impact of the Geberit Group increased in 2021 by 4.0%; this was accompanied by an increase in the currency-adjusted net sales in the same period of 14.7%. In contrast, the environmental impact in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (eco-efficiency) decreased by 9.3%. Since the integration of the energy-intensive ceramics production in 2015, eco-efficiency has improved by 40.9%. As regards the long-term target, which is based on an average annual improvement of 5% per year, Geberit therefore remains very well on course.

Environmental impact

(Index: 2015 = 100)

Environmental impact (bar and line chart)
* UBP = Ecopoints in accordance with the Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method (version 2013)

Due to the strong volume growth, CO2 emissions increased in comparison to 2020 by 5.1% to 217,009 tonnes. In relation to currency-adjusted net sales, however, emissions decreased by 8.4%. This means that the targets for reducing CO2 emissions set within the CO2 strategy were once again exceeded. The detailed CO2 balance sheet and all measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions are also disclosed in detail as part of the company’s participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

CO2 emissions 

(Index: 2015 = 100)

CO2 emissions (bar and line chart)

Long-term, sustainable value creation

An initial environmental strategy was drawn up 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 makes a significant contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The Sustainability strategy bundles together current and future projects, initiatives and activities, and specifies clear responsibilities with measurable objectives, derived measures and quantifiable key figures for effective monitoring. Social, ecological and economic aspects are given equal consideration in the strategy. A total of twelve sustainability modules form the basis here. Among these are health & safety, social responsibility, resources & circular economy, energy & CO2, eco-design & sustainable products as well as sustainable supply chain.

Focus on four global goals

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda. This details 17 specific targets for sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Goals, 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” (Goal 6) for all people worldwide is key to the company’s efforts, as is the goal of “sustainable cities and communities” (Goal 11). With its durable sanitary technology, an important contribution is also made towards “developing robust infrastructures and promoting sustainable industrialisation” (Goal 9). Furthermore, Geberit contributes to the goal of “decent work and economic growth” (Goal 8).

Focus on water consumption

Sparing, careful use of water as a valuable resource is one of Geberit’s core areas of focus. The consistent focus on reducing water consumption both in production and in the product use phase plays a pivotal role in the company’s contribution to sustainable development.

In the reporting year, water consumption in production totalled 925,230 m3 (previous year 953,284 m3). In comparison with 2015, the year that saw the integration of the ceramics business, water consumption fell by 20.9%. Geberit consistently applies measures to successively reduce water consumption. In particular, this includes measures such as reusing water in production processes and laboratories. At around 80%, ceramic production accounts for the biggest share of water consumption. The goal of reducing water consumption in this area (l water/kg ceramic) by 5% by 2021 compared with 2018 was exceeded. By 2024, the value is to be reduced by a further 5% compared to 2021.

Innovative Geberit sanitary products help to systematically optimise water consumption in buildings. According to a model calculation, around 38,000 million m3 water has been able to be saved since 1998 thanks to Geberit dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns in comparison with traditional flushing systems. With eco-design the products are also checked and improved with regard to water consumption. Rimless ceramic appliances and the flush valve 212, for example, now extend the portfolio of products that help end users handle water sparingly.

New CO2 strategy for further reduction of emissions

For many years now, Geberit has been committed to reducing its environmental impact and contributing to achieving global climate goals. A new CO2 strategy was developed to reduce emissions further. This new strategy is a continuation of the successfully implemented strategy 2015–2021. Since the acquisition of the energy-intensive ceramics production in 2015, CO2 emissions in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (CO2 intensity) have fallen by an average 7.7% per year. In comparison with 2015, this represents a reduction of 38.3%. It was also possible to reduce absolute CO2 emissions to below the target value of 240,000 tonnes (2021: 217,009 tonnes). This meant the main goals of the strategy were exceeded. These results mean that between 2015 and 2021, Geberit overfulfilled the target (Scope 1 and 2) specified in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels.

As part of the new CO2 strategy, Geberit is extending proofed and successful measures and adding new elements to them. For more details, see the new CO2 strategy and the Sustainability Performance Report.

Circular economy and eco-design

The aim of the circular economy is to operate an economic cycle in the most resource and environmentally friendly way possible. The service life of a product plays a pivotal role here. The longer a product can be used, the lower the resource input per use. One of Geberit’s key contributions to the circular economy is therefore to achieve the longest possible product life thanks to high-quality materials and strict quality requirements. Geberit products typically have a service life spanning several decades. The service life often exceeds 50 years, for example in the case of plastic discharge pipes. An important contribution to the service life is that a significant proportion of the product range also has a guaranteed spare parts availability of 25 years. Furthermore, many Geberit products can be cleaned, maintained and repaired easily. The fact that new products and innovations are backwards-compatible – for example in the case of actuator plates – is also an important contribution to a longer service life of a previously installed product.

Since 2007, Geberit has consistently used the eco-design principle for the development of its own products. All environmental aspects are examined and the circular economy taken into account, from the selection of raw materials right through to disposal. Every new product has to be better than its predecessor from an ecological perspective. The energy efficiency and the water consumption of the products in the product use phase are continuously improved. Thanks to an intelligent redesign, around half of the material used for the fill and flush valves launched in 2021 for the range of floor-standing WCs in the Nordic countries is made of high-quality ABS regranulate, for example. Since 2007, the systematic eco-design principle has been used in more than 170 product developments. In production, the goal is to close internal material cycles, and to minimise waste and recycle it where appropriate. For example, almost 100% of plastic waste is recycled and reused internally, which corresponded to around 10,000 tonnes of plastic in 2021.

Ecodesign (graphic)

Careful handling of plastics

As part of the eco-design principle, Geberit steadily drives the use of recycled plastics in production forward. In particular, work continues towards constantly increasing the share of bought-in plastic regranulate used (post-consumer waste). Alongside recycled ABS, a suitable recycled material was also evaluated for applications involving polypropylene (PP). This is to be used increasingly in the future, for example as transport protection for Mepla pipes.

Furthermore, Geberit participates in the Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) initiative. OCS is an international initiative promoted by the plastics industry dedicated to preventing the loss of plastic granules and ensuring that these materials do not pollute the environment. All Geberit plants that process plastics take part in the initiative and implement appropriate improvements.

Reducing the use of packaging material

The reporting year saw a revision of the packaging for spare parts of Geberit AquaClean shower toilets. Material savings total more than 13 tonnes of cardboard per year – a reduction of 70%. This results in a saving of around 12 tonnes of CO2 per year. Furthermore, the smaller packaging resulting from the revision means more deliveries fit on a pallet. This reduces the number of transport kilometres and additionally reduces CO2 emissions.

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 (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für nachhaltiges Bauen – the German Sustainable Building Council), Minergie and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). 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. In the reporting year, the EPDs have been extended with two new declarations on the drinking water system Mapress Stainless Steel: one on the fittings and one on the pipes. This means that products with an EPD account for around 23% of Group sales.

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.

Comprehensive controlling and reporting

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 reporting 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 2021. The materiality analysis was reviewed by an external stakeholder panel in 2020 and will be subjected to a further examination in 2022.

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.

Geberit aims to further reinforce its leading position in the industry in the area of sustainability. One major system helping to achieve this target is the integrated Geberit Management System, which unites aspects such as quality, environment, occupational health and safety, and energy. All production plants throughout the world and central logistics were certified in accordance with ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment) and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety). Certification according to ISO 50001 (energy management) is taking place for selected sites.

Further increased importance of sustainable business management for customers and the capital market

In terms of customers, the importance of sustainable business management is increasing. For example, an increasing number of wholesale customers are asking their suppliers for proof of their sustainability performance. EcoVadis, for example, one of the world’s largest providers of business sustainability ratings, offers such a platform. In this context, it is pleasing to note that EcoVadis awarded Geberit the platinum rating for sustainability management for the second time running in 2021. The platinum rating is the highest possible rating awarded following evaluation by EcoVadis. This means that Geberit is among the top one percent of companies listed by EcoVadis.

The activities in terms of sustainable business management are also recognised by the capital market. Geberit is prominently 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.