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 makes a significant contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Geberit stands for a high level of environmental awareness and has been committed to environmentally friendly, resource-saving production as well as the development of water-saving and sustainable products. Systematic, Group-wide environmental management takes centre stage here. This is the remit of Sustainability and Process Management. Guidelines and measures pertaining to all significant environmental issues are coordinated here. A network of environmental managers practises active environmental protection at the production plants, thus ensuring that the targets and measures laid down in the sustainability strategy are implemented worldwide. The environmental and occupational safety managers from all production plants meet once a year to discuss best practice and further develop Group-wide standards.
Eco-design has been an integral part of the product development process since 2007, with the aim of making each product more environmentally friendly than its predecessor throughout the entire product life cycle, see Chapter 10.1 Products and innovation. The goal here is for products to be manufactured locally, where possible, using durable, sustainable raw materials from carefully selected, predominantly regional suppliers in order to keep transport routes as short as possible. The developed products are optimised both in terms of the amount of materials used and in resource and energy consumption during the usage phase. Returning products to an appropriate material cycle after removal is becoming increasingly important here.
Environmental criteria are considered in all decision-making processes. These processes are continuously being examined so that a proven high standard is achieved which often greatly exceeds legal requirements. Geberit’s environmental principles are defined in the Code of Conduct. The Geberit Group has a Group certificate in accordance with ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment) and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety) that is valid until 2024. All production plants, central logistics, and the management company incorporating all Group functions at headquarters in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) are certified in accordance with these three standards. In addition, five German plants are certified according to ISO 50001 (energy) and nine sales companies according to ISO 9001 (quality).
The annual preparation of a corporate eco-balance has been an established part of Geberit’s environmental management since 1991. It covers all production plants worldwide, the logistics centre in Pfullendorf (DE), other smaller logistics units and the larger sales companies. The corporate eco-balance permits an overall assessment of environmental impact in terms of eco-points. For the reporting in 2021, as in the previous year, the basic data from the internationally recognised Ecoinvent database (version 3.1) and the method of ecological scarcity (version 2013) were used. The calculation was based on the national electricity mix.
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 environmental impact increased by 4.0% and CO2 emissions by 5.1% in the reporting year. The environmental impact in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (eco-efficiency) dropped by 9.3%, and sales-related CO2 emissions by 8.4%. These figures are well above the long-term target of 5% per year. This progress is founded largely on continuous improvements in efficiency at the energy-intensive ceramics plants and on the targeted purchasing of green electricity. Since the acquisition of the ceramics business in 2015, the absolute environmental impact has been reduced by 19.4% and CO2 emissions by 15.9%. Eco-efficiency improved by 40.9% in the same period, while sales-related CO2 emissions (CO2 intensity) fell by 38.3%. Geberit developed a new CO2 strategy in the reporting year to reduce CO2 emissions further in the future (see GRI 305 and Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2021 > New CO2 strategy).
A compact overview of all the relevant developments in the reporting year is provided in the Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2021 > Sustainability. Detailed key figures on the environmental impact are provided at Key figures sustainability > Environment. Geberit’s contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals can be found in the separate SDG Reporting section.
Resources and circular economy (GRI 301)
Management approach resources and circular economy
The use of raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products with a global procurement value of CHF 1,061 million is a significant production factor for Geberit. The grey energy associated with purchased materials is around 15,100 TJ (previous year 13,100 TJ), around six times the entire energy consumption of Geberit’s production plants. CO2 emissions associated with purchased materials amount to 766,400 tonnes of CO2 (Scope 3) and are responsible for 17.4% of Geberit’s entire CO2 emissions. This emphasises the importance of treating raw materials with care. Since 2018, for example, resource efficiency in ceramic production has improved by 13.1% (target 10%), with a further 10% optimisation envisaged for the period 2021 to 2024. It is important that the resource-efficient use of raw materials is considered as early as the product development process. This has been implemented systematically since 2007 as part of eco-design workshops and is thus a central element of Geberit’s CO2 strategy, see Chapter 10.1 Products and innovation > Product management and innovation.
As part of the European vision for a resource-saving circular economy, efforts are being made to identify and implement options in the area of closed material cycles. The aim is to minimise resource and energy usage, lengthen the service life of products as far as possible, close internal and external material cycles to the greatest extent possible, and constantly increase the use of internal and external recycled materials. Of key importance here is that Geberit products must have a very long industrial service life, as many of them will be installed in buildings for decades. This is guaranteed through the use of top-class materials and the application of strict quality requirements. An important factor here is the availability of spare parts for up to 25 years for a significant proportion of the product range. Furthermore, Geberit products are usually backwards-compatible and can be cleaned and repaired easily. Attention is also paid to using as little packaging material as possible. All these features combine sustainability aspects and support the circular economy, both in production as well as the use of the products in buildings.
Since 2020, Geberit has been supporting the Operation Clean Sweep initiative, which is committed to ensuring that plastic granules do not pollute the environment. To this end, a review was carried out at all plastics-processing plants worldwide, and measures for improvement defined and implemented. These include raising staff awareness and verifying the implementation of measures as part of the internal and external ISO audits.
Plastic also plays a key role as a material in piping systems, which is why Geberit is participating in a TEPPFA study on the overall consideration of environmental aspects in the plastic pipe industry. The aim here is to highlight the risks and opportunities associated with plastic recycling, and how plastic regranulate could be used in piping systems and as part of their recycling.
Conserving resources also means making appropriate use of products that, although in mint condition, can no longer be sold. The brand switch to Geberit, coupled with major efforts to reduce the complexity of the ceramic-product portfolio, gave rise to residual items of stock still in mint condition. Rather than scrapping these products, attempts were also made in 2021 to put them to good use, with a large shipment made to Moldova for use in various social institutions.
Materials used (GRI 301-1)
The use of materials depends on the various manufacturing processes: ten plants for manufacturing sanitary ceramics, eleven plants for processing plastic and metal, and five other plants in the area of metal composites and metal. The range of production processes used thus includes the areas of ceramic production, injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion, metal- and thermoforming, and assembly.
The most important materials for production are plastic and metal raw materials, mineral raw materials and various semi-finished products and finished products. A total of 457,299 tonnes of materials were used in 2021 (previous year 408,861 tonnes). Detailed key figures on the use of materials can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
In 2017, the implementation of a software-based solution for managing hazardous substances began, and this was rolled out in 23 plants in the reporting year. This means that a standardised, efficient process now exists for managing and reducing the use of hazardous operating and auxiliary materials. In 2021, the number of hazardous substances used was reduced by 3%. For example, process optimisation in the production of welded, bent Mapress Stainless Steel fittings not only helped improve efficiency, quality, ergonomics and waste, but also reduced pickling step by step.
Percentage of recycled material (GRI 301-2)
When determining the share of recycled material in production, a distinction is made between internal and external sources.
Almost 100% of the plastic waste produced during plastics processing is recycled internally. This internally generated recycled material is ground either on site or via a decentralised mill and fed back into the process. The proportion fluctuates depending on the manufacturing process. For blow moulding it is around 35%, for injection moulding around 15%, depending on product class, and for pipe extrusion around 3%. This corresponds to around 10,000 tonnes in total (previous year 9,200 tonnes).
Raw materials are also recycled internally and fed back into the process in ceramic production. The recycling rate for the ceramic slip is 5 to 10% and 20 to 40% for the glaze, corresponding to around 30,400 tonnes in total. The reporting year also saw resource efficiency in ceramic production improve by a further 6.1% to 0.45 kg waste/kg ceramic.
The share of recycled material in purchased metals is relatively high. This data originates from the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Extrapolated, the raw material metal purchased contains around 40,300 tonnes of recycled material.
With plastics, virgin material is primarily used. The search for suitable, high-quality regranulate from external plastic waste (post-consumer waste) is, however, an integral part of Geberit’s procurement strategy. In terms of the material Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a suitable alternative made of 100% recycled material was found. This alternative is based on high-quality plastic waste from the electronics industry (e.g. used computer cases). According to the supplier, the manufacture of this regranulate consumes over 80% less energy compared to the manufacture of a tonne of new petrochemical-based plastic, while releasing around three tonnes less CO2 per tonne of regranulate into the atmosphere. In 2021, 957 tonnes of ABS regranulate (previous year 940 tonnes) were used for various components in exposed and concealed cisterns. Thanks to an intelligent redesign, around half of the material used for the fill and flush valves launched in 2021 for the Nordic range of floor-standing WCs is made of high-quality ABS regranulate, for example. The use of plastic regranulate is generally to be increased further and applied to other product areas. Since 2020, a second high-quality recycled plastic (post-consumer waste) in the form of polypropylene (PP) has been available, 4.2 tonnes of which were used in the reporting year (previous year 1.2 tonnes).
Reuse of products and packaging materials (GRI 301-3)
Due to their long service life and the way in which they are installed, Geberit products can only be reused or recycled to a very limited extent. A targeted improvement in recyclability can be achieved by using recyclable thermoplastics instead of non-recyclable duroplast plastics, as is the case with the manufacture of a WC seat and lid at the plant in Pfullendorf (DE).
In the case of packaging materials, Geberit’s goal – also as part of eco-design workshops – is to keep amounts as low as possible, to continuously increase the share of recycled material, and to simplify the recycling and return processes. In a preliminary study, potential for optimisation in the amount of packaging was identified from both an ecological perspective and from the customer’s point of view. Efforts to reduce packaging amounts are already starting to bear fruit. For example, certain packaging levels are being omitted, bags reduced in size or thinner foils used, while instructions are printed directly on the packaging rather than on paper, or replaced by a QR code. In addition, care is being taken to avoid the use of polystyrene (EPS) wherever possible and, where necessary, to replace it with recyclable cardboard. A good example here is the redesign of the packaging for the sanitary flush unit. Proven standard packaging – introduced as part of an effort to reduce complexity – is now also being reviewed. As a result, WC lids are now being shipped in cardboard boxes that have been reduced in size as far as possible. These boxes are almost four times lighter than those used up to now, cause 70% fewer CO2 emissions and are both easier to use and cheaper to procure.
In 2021, around 41,100 tonnes of packaging material were used (previous year 36,100 tonnes), of which around 60% was collected and recycled by Geberit or by financed contractual partners. The rest was disposed of and recycled on a country-specific basis.
Energy (GRI 302)
Management approach energy
Representing a 96.8% share of the corporate eco-balance, the consumption of energy in the form of electricity, combustibles and fuels represents Geberit’s greatest environmental impact. Software introduced in 2012 permits monthly monitoring of water and energy consumption, as well as the Group-wide calculation of environmental impact and CO2 emissions. In addition, systematic energy and CO2 monitoring and an energy/CO2 master plan are being implemented in the most energy-intensive plants to manage and plan energy consumption. This is based on the three pillars energy saving, use of existing waste heat (heat recovery), and the targeted expansion of the share of renewable energy sources.
Initial goals for the share of renewable energy sources were established as far back as 2015: By 2021, the share of renewable energy sources was to account for 45% for electricity and 10% for combustibles. Whereas the goal for electricity has been exceeded (49.5%), the goal for combustibles was not reached (5.0%). Pivotal in energy management and the CO2 strategy are measures for saving energy, increasing efficiency and procuring energy in the plants. The corresponding measures are implemented using an energy master plan and a rolling CO2 forecasting at all major plants. The proportion of renewable energies is being further increased throughout the company, always taking the internal CO2 reference price and the economic efficiency of the planned projects into consideration. There are various ways of doing this: Purchasing high-quality green electricity with certificates, long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with selected operators, or the installation of proprietary photovoltaic systems on the roofs of the production plants to generate electricity to be used within the company. The company has planned to further increase its purchase of green electricity in 2022 by additional 20 GWh.
At present, the five German plants in Lichtenstein, Pfullendorf, Langenfeld, Wesel and Haldensleben are certified according to the ISO 50001 standard for energy management. Furthermore, all Geberit companies implemented the European Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU in 2015, which was reviewed again in 2019.
For the development of energy-efficient products, see Chapter 10.1 Products and innovation.
Energy consumption within the organisation (GRI 302-1)
Geberit generally uses energy purchased externally. The direct energy carriers (Scope 1) include the combustibles natural gas, biogas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), diesel for power generation, heating oil extra light, as well as the fuels diesel, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas (CNG). The indirect energy carriers (Scope 2) include electricity and district heating.
Energy consumption increased by 7.3% in the reporting year due to significant sales growth and is now 775.7 GWh (previous year 723.1 GWh). Since the acquisition of the energy intensive ceramics business in 2015, however, it has been possible to reduce energy consumption by 14.9%, making a significant contribution to reductions in the environmental impact and CO2 emissions.
Combustibles (primarily for ceramic production), including district heating, still account for the greatest share of energy consumption at 67.3% (previous year 67.0%), followed by electricity with 29.9% (previous year 29.8%) and fuels with 2.8% (previous year 3.2%).
Since 2012, a block heating station has been in use in Pfullendorf (DE). In 2021, this plant was fed by 9.1 GWh of regionally produced biogas. The electricity generated by the plant (3.5 GWh) is fed into the transmission grid and the resulting heat (4.6 GWh) can be used in production, thereby reducing the use of natural gas.
Since 2013, the roof area at the plant in Givisiez (CH) has been made available to an energy services provider for a 3,050 m2 photovoltaic installation. It generated 0.5 GWh of electricity in 2021. However, this contribution is not included in the energy balance as the energy produced is managed by the regional energy supplier. Overall, the volume of purchased green electricity was increased by 17 GWh to 85 GWh in 2021.
For detailed key figures on the consumption of combustibles and fuels (Scope 1), as well as electricity and district heating (Scope 2) and the electricity mix, see Key figures sustainability > Energy consumption.
Energy consumption outside the organisation (GRI 302-2)
Where the energy balance outside the organisation is concerned, Geberit concentrates on purchased materials, intercompany and distribution logistics, and business travel.
In 2021, purchased materials resulted in grey energy consumption of around 15,100 TJ (previous year 13,100 TJ).
Logistics services are provided by external transport service providers. Since 2010, a logistics calculator developed by Geberit has been used for monitoring purposes and covers all intercompany and distribution logistics. In the reporting year, the transport service providers handled 672.3 million tkm (tonne-kilometres), previous year 528.6 million tkm. This gave rise to energy consumption of 1,273 TJ (previous year 1,015 TJ). The increase in transport services and energy consumption was mainly due to a rise in sales growth, an increase in deliveries to far-away countries and adjustments in data collection.
Business flights have been recorded and included in the assessment since 2012. The flight distances are calculated according to the respective departure and arrival airports. Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, energy consumption arising from business flights was again much lower in the reporting year than before the pandemic at 8.2 TJ (2020: 6.2 TJ, 2019: 23.2 TJ).
Energy intensity (GRI 302-3)
Energy intensity is an important performance indicator at the production plants, and is monitored monthly in the management cockpit. It refers to the quantities produced in unit equivalents and, in the ceramics plants, also to the quantity produced in terms of weight. Those plants which are certified to ISO 50001 (energy) have also introduced a more refined system of monitoring. At Group level, net sales constitute a key indicator alongside environmental impact and CO2 emissions. In 2021, energy consumption per net sales improved by 6.5% compared to the previous year.
Energy saved (GRI 302-4)
Important ongoing energy-saving measures in production include:
- The optimisation of production processes in terms of efficiency, scrap, stability, energy and resource consumption
- The continuous modernisation of the machine fleet and the purchase of energy-efficient equipment, and the systematic switchover of
- Lighting to LED technology
- Increasing the capacity utilisation and efficiency of production equipment
- The optimisation of cooling systems through the use of natural ambient cold (free cooling, ground water)
- The improved use of waste heat available internally (heat recovery, e.g. for the pre-heating of plastic granules)
- The careful use of compressed air
- Improved insulation of buildings
Concrete examples which show the reduction in energy consumption in production:
- Closure of three smaller production plants in Daishan (CN), Elyria (US) and Dymer (UA). Relocation of products to other Geberit production plants to simplify processes and improve efficiency.
- Increase in the number of injection moulding machines with energy-efficient drive technology (hybrid, fully electrical, standby) to 209 machines, and commissioning of a fifth fully electrical blow-moulding machine.
- Process optimisation in the production of Mapress Stainless Steel fittings in Langenfeld (DE) leading to a reduction in electricity and natural gas consumption through step-by-step reduction in pickling.
Measures to reduce energy consumption in (outsourced) logistics operations:
- Great importance is attached to central transport management as the interface between plants, markets and transport service providers in order to enable cost- and resource-optimised transport solutions. The efficient utilisation of freight capacity is of key importance here. In the case of product deliveries from the logistics centre in Pfullendorf (DE), the capacity of the loading vessels can be utilised more efficiently thanks to the optimised calculation of loading space and implementation of organisational measures. This leads to a reduction in the number of transport runs and in CO2 emissions. The share of transport services handled by state-of-the-art Euro 6 trucks was 82% (previous year 73%). In addition, four trucks powered by natural gas are in operation between Jona (CH) and Pfullendorf (DE) and on other routes.
- Where possible, Geberit takes the opportunity to shift truck traffic to rail. From Pfullendorf, almost 100% of ocean freight shipments to Hamburg (DE), 80% of shipments to Italy, and 15% of shipments to Switzerland are conducted by rail. The percentage of rail consignments from Italy to Pfullendorf is 59% and to Switzerland 86%.
- With regard to transportation by truck, Geberit continues to look for options for making more efficient use of freight compartments and using bigger shipping containers. As such, the percentage of “high cube swap bodies” (offering around 10% more capacity) deployed from the logistics centre in Pfullendorf and the use of double-decker systems is being successively increased. In addition, the use of long trucks (with a length of up to 25 metres and a total weight of up to 60 tonnes) in Scandinavia increases load volumes and the number of transported pallets per truck by around 40%. In addition, some 325 truck journeys were saved thanks to the double stacking of cisterns for major customer deliveries in Germany.
Reductions in energy requirements of products and services (GRI 302-5)
The biggest environmental contribution by Geberit products lies in the conservation of water, which indirectly also saves on energy. According to the Ecoinvent database (version 3.1), some 10.3 MJ of energy are required and 0.64 kg of CO2 emissions released per cubic metre for the conveyance, processing and distribution of water and the subsequent processing of the unpolluted waste water in a treatment plant. The water footprint calculated for Geberit shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to the usage phase. The water volume saved owing to Geberit products is enormous: according to one model calculation, all dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns installed since 1998 have so far saved around 38,210 million m3 of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. Therefore, these water savings indirectly result in substantial energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions.
Direct energy savings when using the products are made possible thanks to systematically improved energy efficiency. Specific examples include:
- The Geberit DuoFresh module removes unpleasant odours by extracting the air directly from the WC ceramic appliance and purifying it using a ceramic honeycomb filter. This can save up to 50 litres of heating oil per year compared to opening the window for ventilation.
- The Geberit energy retaining valve ERV uses a magnetic diaphragm system to cap the ventilation pipe for waste water above the roof. This opens only when required and ensures pressure compensation only when this is necessary. This helps avoid unnecessary heat loss and can save up to 50 litres of heating oil a year.
- The Geberit AquaClean Sela Comfort shower toilet uses innovative WhirlSpray and heating-on-demand technology to considerably reduce energy consumption compared to its predecessor.
- The Geberit urinal system comprises urinals with electronic flush controls but also with completely waterless operation. The central elements are the two rimless urinal ceramics Preda and Selva, which were developed by Geberit. Thanks to the low consumption of resources and the option of a control system supplied with electricity by an autonomous energy source, the urinals satisfy the most stringent requirements for sustainable building and economic operation. For this purpose, a proprietary environmental and cost calculator was developed for various sales companies, see www.international.geberit.com > Products > Geberit urinal system > Urinal system sustainability calculator.
- The modular Geberit tap system is the ultimate in sophisticated installation technology, different energy concepts and elegant tap housings for wall-mounted and deck-mounted taps. The product boasts both optimal user-friendliness and ease of installation as well as minimal water and energy consumption.
- The Geberit Control App enables product configuration via smartphone, meaning appliances can be operated simply and also constantly optimised in terms of energy management and water consumption, among other aspects.
Water and waste water (GRI 303)
Management approach water and waste water
The biggest environmental contribution made by Geberit products lies in the conservation of water at customers, which is one of the pivotal aspects in the company’s contribution towards sustainable development and reducing CO2 emissions. Innovative Geberit sanitary products reduce the amount of water consumed and help to systematically optimise the way in which water is used in buildings while maintaining the highest hygiene standards – including in terms of drinking water. According to one model calculation, all dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns installed since 1998 have so far saved around 38,210 million m3 of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2021 alone, the water saved amounted to 3,590 million m3 (previous year 3,350 million m3). This is more than half of the annual consumption of all German households. Since 2016, Geberit has been publishing its detailed water balance as part of the CDP Water Program.
For the development of water-saving products and Geberit’s commitment beyond product development, see Chapter 10.1 Products and innovation.
Handling and use of water (GRI 303-3, GRI 303-5)
The water footprint, which covers Geberit’s entire value chain, shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to the use of the products, while the manufacture of the products by Geberit accounts for less than 0.1% of water consumption.
The corporate eco-balance shows a similar picture. Here, the environmental impact caused by water consumption and subsequent waste water treatment also accounts for only a minor share of the company’s overall impact (1.1%). Despite this, Geberit also aims to serve as a role model with respect to its own water consumption and to further optimise this every year. This includes measures such as reusing water in laboratories and production processes. Ceramic production accounts for the biggest share of water consumption. Geberit’s goal in this area was to reduce water consumption (l water/kg ceramic) by 5% by 2021 compared with 2018. At 10.3%, the reduction achieved clearly exceeded the goal. Geberit is not content with this figure, however, and is now looking to reduce its water consumption by a further 5% by 2024.
Despite higher production volumes in the area of ceramics, it was possible to reduce water consumption to 925,230 m3 in the reporting year (previous year 953,284 m3). This is categorised into drinking water (36.1%), well water (41.1%), lake and river water (21.7%) and rain water (1.1%). According to the Water Risk Atlas from the World Resources Institute (WRI), the production sites in Lichtenstein (DE), Gaeta (IT), Kolo (PL), Wloclawek (PL), Shanghai (CN) and Pune (IN), which together account for 29% of Geberit’s total water consumption in production, are located in areas with high or very high water stress. Key figures concerning water consumption by source can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
Water withdrawal and water consumption (GRI 303-1)
The manufacture of ceramic sanitary appliances accounts for around 80% of water consumption in production, i.e. during preparation of the ceramic slip and glaze, and cleaning the moulds and systems. On average, 5.9 litres of water are needed for every kilo of ceramic produced. Around 5 to 10% of the water used in ceramic production is recycled internally, corresponding to around 73,800 m3 in 2021.
Another major consumer is the Geberit sanitary laboratory in Rapperswil-Jona (CH), where newly developed products are tested. The tests required 131,595 m3 of water, of which only around 3% was fresh water. The remaining 97% was reused in a closed-circuit system.
Other processes that consume water are steam foaming of expandable polystyrene (EPS), cleaning work, powder coating, and water used in staff sanitary facilities.
Waste water of varying quality accounts for around 75% of the water withdrawn, see GRI 303-4. The remaining 25% evaporates into the atmosphere either during cooling processes or when the ceramic parts and plaster moulds dry.
Handling of waste water (GRI 303-2)
All resulting process waste water and domestic waste water is treated. Process waste water can contain inorganic substances (e.g. mineral raw materials). This water is cleaned in a two-stage process involving sedimentation and filtration before being fed into the public sewage system or returned to surface waters. Only few Geberit processes (e.g. powder coating, electroplating, cleaning of metal fittings) produce waste water that is more heavily contaminated. This waste water is treated in a separate stage before being fed into the public sewage system.
Waste water (GRI 303-4)
The 2021 figure for waste water was 686,169 m3 (previous year 709,743 m3). At 72.8%, process waste water from the production of sanitary ceramics accounted for the largest share of the total. Other important categories are domestic waste water (25.2%), which passes into the communal waste water treatment plant or is pretreated and fed into receiving waters, and other waste water (2.0%), which is pretreated and fed to a communal waste water treatment plant. Waste water was not reused by external companies. Detailed key figures on waste water can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
CO2 and other emissions (GRI 305)
Management approach CO2 and other emissions
Geberit has been calculating its carbon footprint across the entire value chain (Scopes 1 to 3) since 2012. Within this context, the following activities are relevant: the provision of raw materials, combustibles and fuels (Scope 3), the manufacture of products (Scopes 1 and 2), logistics, together with use and disposal (all Scope 3). With regard to the former Sanitec, only mineral raw materials and raw materials from the plant in Ozorków (PL) are taken into account. An analysis revealed that product use (68.3%) and the provision of raw materials (17.4%) are by far the largest sources of CO2 emissions. During product use, the provision of water, processing of unpolluted waste water and generation of hot water play a central role. All in all, manufacturing of the products at Geberit accounts for only 4.9% of total CO2 emissions. Similarly, transport (1.8%), the provision of combustibles and fuels (0.8%) and the disposal (6.8%) of the products also cause only few emissions.
The calculation of greenhouse gas emissions is based on the internationally recognised Ecoinvent database (version 3.1) and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) factors from 2013. Production-related process emissions are also taken into account, as is the national electricity mix. The seven leading substances (CO2 fossil, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC, SF6 and NF3) are used for the calculation of the greenhouse gas emissions and shown as a sum parameter according to IPCC (CO2 equivalents or simply CO2).
Production emissions are recorded, calculated and analysed in detail as part of the corporate eco-balance. CO2 emissions are particularly important to Geberit. Other air emissions (NOx, SO2, hydrocarbons, etc.) are also recorded and calculated, but have a comparatively minor impact on the environment. The reduction of these emissions is directly related to the reduction targets of the CO2 strategy. As part of the CO2 strategy, it was decided in 2015 that CO2 emissions in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (CO2 intensity) should be reduced by 5% per year on average. With an average reduction of 7.7%, this goal was clearly exceeded. Furthermore, a long-term, absolute CO2 target (Scopes 1 and 2) was established that was compatible with the target specified in the Science Based Targets Initiative of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels. Within this context, Geberit planned to reduce its absolute CO2 emissions by 6% between 2015 and 2021 to under 240,000 tonnes (based on organic growth). This target had already been achieved by the end of 2018, with current emissions standing at 217,009 tonnes. The new CO2 strategy is a continuation of the successfully implemented strategy 2015–2021. The goal in the future is to continue to reduce CO2 intensity by an average of 5% per year. As such, Geberit is looking to achieve a long-term reduction in absolute CO2 emissions from 217,009 tonnes in 2021 to 136,000 tonnes by 2035. In comparison with the reference year 2015, relative CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 70% by 2030 and by 80% by 2035, while absolute CO2 emissions are to fall by 39% and 47% by 2030 and 2035, respectively. The envisaged reduction in emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) is in line with the target specified in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels.
The new CO2 strategy is looking to maintain and develop the tried-and-tested measures for CO2 reduction, while adding new elements to the existing framework. The internal CO2 pricing is a new measure of key importance. Once a year, the Group Executive Board defines a CO2 reference price as part of the budget – this was €60 per tonne for 2022. This is based on the price of the European Trading System (ETS) for CO2. The internal CO2 reference price embodies the reference costs for saving one tonne of CO2. An implicit CO2 project price is calculated for each project using a profitability calculation. This serves as a basis for deciding on investments in measures to reduce energy or CO2. The lower the CO2 project price, the more attractive the project, whereby the price for implementing a project has to be under the CO2 reference price.
Geberit relies on transparency and the assumption of responsibility. The internal transparency of the CO2 emissions will be increased significantly with comprehensive monthly reporting and the definition and monthly tracking of key performance indicators on CO2 emissions, and integrated in the regular reporting and forecasting processes. As of 2022, the annual achievement of objectives regarding CO2 reduction will be integrated as one of five equally weighted criteria in the calculation of the Group bonus. The annual emission reduction goals are thus bonus-related with a weighting of 20% for the entire Group management (around 220 managers) as well as for the employees in Switzerland (a total of 1,500 employees).
Geberit also contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions during product development and in the product use phase. The name of this principle is eco-design and is based on the continuous improvement of product design, see Product management and innovation.
Direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1) (GRI 305-1) and indirect, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 2) (GRI 305-2)
In 2021, CO2 emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) amounted to 217,009 tonnes (previous year 206,553 tonnes), corresponding to an increase of 5.1%. At 49.9% (previous year 48.9%), combustibles are the largest source of CO2, followed by electricity at 47.2% (previous year 47.9%) and fuels at 2.7% (previous year 2.9%), as well as process emissions and district heating at 0.2% in total (previous year 0.3%). The targeted purchase of 85 GWh of green electricity (previous year 68 GWh) in Jona and Givisiez (CH), Pfullendorf (DE), Bromölla and Mörrum (SE), Ekenäs (FI), Kolo and Wloclawek (PL), and Daishan (CN) meant that it was possible to reduce CO2 emissions by around 39,100 tonnes (previous year 32,500 tonnes).
Key figures concerning greenhouse gas emissions can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
Other indirect greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 3) (GRI 305-3)
Where other indirect greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 3) are concerned, Geberit concentrates on the following categories:
- Raw materials used and the resulting CO2 emissions at 766,368 tonnes (previous year 670,192 tonnes).
- The provision of combustibles and fuels, which in 2021 accounted for 32,699 tonnes from combustibles (previous year 30,487 tonnes) and 4,213 tonnes from fuels (previous year 4,342 tonnes). CO2 emissions of power generation from the upstream chain are included in GRI 305-1.
- Logistics (see GRI 302-2) gave rise to total CO2 emissions of 77,292 tonnes in 2021 (previous year 61,653 tonnes). The increase in CO2 emissions was mainly due to sales growth, an increase in deliveries to far-away countries and adjustments in data collection. Since 2015, Geberit has managed to improve the eco-efficiency of its logistics operations (environmental impact per tkm) by 31%.
- Business travel by air, at 586 tonnes of CO2 emissions (previous year 445 tonnes, 2019 1,663 tonnes). These CO2 emissions comprise direct and indirect emissions and are based on the Ecoinvent database (version 3.1) and the IPCC factors from 2013.
Intensity of greenhouse gas emissions (GRI 305-4)
CO2 emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (CO2 intensity) decreased by 8.4% in 2021. Since the acquisition of the ceramics business in 2015, CO2 intensity has been reduced by 38.3%, or 7.7% per year on average. This figure is above the target of 5% per year.
Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GRI 305-5)
The measures for implementing the CO2 strategy (Scopes 1 and 2) are based on the three pillars energy saving, use of existing waste heat (heat recovery), and the targeted expansion of the share of renewable energy sources, see also GRI 302.
In 2021, Geberit purchased another 17 GWh of green electricity, bringing the total to 85 GWh. Overall, renewable energy sources thus accounted for 49.5% of electricity (previous year 46.1%). For combustibles, the share of renewable energy sources should have been increased to 10% by 2021. The block heating station in Pfullendorf (DE), which was commissioned in 2012 and which was fed by 9.1 GWh of regionally generated biogas in 2021, makes a key contribution. Additionally, 16.3 GWh of district heating was sourced from a paper factory and a block heating station powered by wood. This brought the share of renewable energies for district heating and combustibles to 5.0% in total in 2021 (previous year 4.5%).
Under the new CO2 strategy, a wide range of measures for saving energy and increasing efficiency in the plants is planned. Accordingly, the area of ceramics, which accounts for around two-thirds of all Geberit’s CO2 emissions, has the largest structural savings potential. This includes a special focus on the reduction of scrap rates. The firing process and the use of the resulting waste heat will be further optimised. This can be used for other process steps, such as the drying of the cast ceramic appliances. Furthermore, projects were launched to investigate the possibilities of switching to renewable energy sources – for example, ecologically produced hydrogen – in the long term as well as the systematic reuse of ceramic waste.
Fuel consumption is determined primarily by the company’s own and leased fleet of cars and delivery vans. Since early 2008, binding guidelines have also applied for the purchase of new vehicles. As of 2019, these guidelines were adjusted to take into account the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).
Geberit also encourages awareness among all employees for the promotion of environmentally friendly behaviour. New employees receive training on the subject of sustainability at Geberit as part of their job orientation programme. In the largest plants, this is also tailored to the target group of production employees.
The consistent application of eco-design principles in product development is paramount in terms of reducing CO2 emissions in Scope 3, and Geberit has adhered to this approach since 2007. Specific examples of sustainable, CO2-reducing products can be found at 10.1 Products and innovation.
All targets and measures for improving the carbon footprint are disclosed in detail as part of the company’s participation in the CDP.
Emissions of ozone-depleting substances (GRI 305-6)
Emissions of ozone-depleting substances, measured in CFC-11 equivalents (chlorofluorocarbons), can be calculated based on the eco-balance using the base data from the Ecoinvent database (version 3.1). The calculation includes both direct emissions (Scope 1) from the burning of combustibles and fuels and process emissions (solvents), as well as indirect emissions (Scope 2) resulting from electricity consumption and the provision of district heating. Key figures concerning ozone-depleting substances can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
Nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulphur oxides (SOX) and other air emissions (GRI 305-7)
Emissions of NOx, SO2, NMVOC (non-methane VOC) and dust (PM 10) can be calculated on the basis of the eco-balance using the base data from the Ecoinvent database (version 3.1). The calculation includes both direct emissions (Scope 1) from the burning of combustibles and fuels and process emissions (solvents), as well as indirect emissions (Scope 2) resulting from electricity consumption and the provision of district heating. Key figures concerning emissions can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
Waste (GRI 306)
Management approach waste
According to the corporate eco-balance, waste disposal accounted for just 1.5% of the overall environmental impact. The avoidance, reduction and safe handling of waste is promoted at the plants within the scope of environmental management according to ISO 14001. Waste is sorted so that as much as possible is recycled, and as little as possible has to be incinerated or sent to landfill sites. As part of a resource-saving circular economy, efforts are being made to generate secondary material for other processes from waste.
Waste generation and management of waste-related impacts (GRI 306-1 and GRI 306-2)
Waste occurs along Geberit’s entire value chain: during the manufacture of purchased raw materials and of semi-finished and finished products, during transportation and production, as well as during the installation and utilisation of products right through to their ultimate disposal when a building is renovated or dismantled.
Production waste at suppliers can only be influenced by Geberit to a limited extent. By complying with the Code of Conduct for Suppliers, providers undertake – among other things – to reduce the quantity of waste they produce. The matter is also addressed during visits to suppliers and audits. Packaging waste that occurs when raw materials and semi-finished products are delivered to production and logistics can be influenced to a greater extent. For example, agreements with suppliers can stipulate that reusable containers are used instead of disposable ones, or that silo deliveries are made rather than supplying goods in sacks.
Consistent efforts are made to minimise waste in Geberit’s production plants, with actions prioritised as follows: avoid and reduce waste, sort the waste and, if possible, recycle it internally or externally; if this is not possible, use the waste for energy recovery by burning it as fuel at an incineration plant or dispose of it in an inert waste landfill. Wherever possible, hazardous waste requiring special disposal and treatment is avoided. The same applies to waste that has to be sent to a mixed waste landfill. As part of a resource-saving circular economy, efforts are being made to generate secondary material for other processes from waste. The type and quantity of waste generated depends to a large degree on the relevant production processes. The most important production processes at Geberit are:
- Plastics processing (injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion): these processes primarily generate plastic waste, virtually all of which can be processed and recycled internally (either directly at the machine or via a decentralised mill). The proportion that can be recycled internally fluctuates according to the manufacturing process, see GRI 301-2.
- Metalworking (bending, stamping, drilling, welding, forming): these processes primarily generate metal waste that can be recycled and reused externally. In addition, typical waste from metal processing – such as lubricating oils, machine oils and emulsions – are produced.
- Ceramic production: this process generates the largest volume of waste in terms of weight. The waste mainly comprises fired ceramic scrap, mineral sludge (from waste water treatment), and plaster (from used ceramic moulds). As well as minimising the volume of waste through efficient, stable process management, ways of recycling waste internally or externally are also being explored. Trials are under way to examine the possibility of grinding fired ceramic scrap externally and then feeding it back into the production process. As far as external recycling is concerned, fired ceramic scrap can be recycled for use in tile production or road building. A further option is to replace conventional plaster casting systems with modern high-pressure casting systems, as was the case in Kolo (PL) and Slavuta (UA) in the reporting year. This serves to increase efficiency, improve ergonomics and reduce raw material consumption and plaster waste. Moreover, in 2021, 7,200 tonnes of plaster (previous year 6,700 tonnes) were delivered to the cement industry as a by-product for further use, which reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill accordingly.
Geberit also aims to minimise the volume of packaging waste for customers, see GRI 301-3.
Construction site waste is waste that is generated during the installation and processing of products. Apart from product packaging, this typically includes pipe sections that remain after drinking water and waste water pipes have been assembled, protective caps on fittings and pipes that have to be removed prior to assembly, pressing indicators that fall off when the fittings are pressed, various protective components that are removed after tiling is completed, and sections of GIS profiles or plaster panels left over after a prewall has been installed. This waste is disposed of either by the plumber or by local waste management at the construction site. Since 2021, as part of the roll-out of the new Geberit FlowFit supply system, Geberit has also been offering the possibility of returning protective caps from drinking water fittings and pipes to a Geberit recycling partner. New protective caps or other products can then be made from this waste depending on how clean it is.
Only small quantities of waste are produced during the use phase of Geberit products. This is because Geberit products have a very long service life, the majority of them require little maintenance, and they can be repaired easily in the event of a problem. They are also easy to clean, which means less cleaning work for end users and reduces the amount of cleaning agents used. Waste includes used active carbon filters, batteries, seals and defective components. Geberit has a very large selection of spare parts offering a high degree of backwards compatibility, with availability of up to 25 years for a significant proportion of the product range. This ensures the durability and functionality of the products while simultaneously saving resources.
Waste is also produced when a sanitary installation or bathroom is renovated or dismantled. Since Geberit products can have a service life of up to 50 years, they will often be dirty or blocked with limescale upon removal (e.g. WC ceramic appliances, waste water and drinking water pipes) or may be connected to other parts of a building (e.g. a tiled prewall or waste water systems embedded in concrete). This makes the products more difficult to recycle. The obligation to take back used electrical equipment such as tools, electronic washbasin taps and control systems, shower toilets and other electronic components is regulated by the WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). As part of the eco-design initiative, Geberit also ensures that its products are easy to sort and recycle, and that product materials are clearly labelled.
Volume of waste (GRI 306-3, GRI 306-4, GRI 306-5)
The total volume of waste (including recycling) amounted to 74,989 tonnes in 2021 (previous year 73,969 tonnes). 16.0% of the waste was disposed of, while 84.0% (previous year 81.7%) was recycled externally. The total amount includes 1,259 tonnes (previous year 1,263 tonnes) of hazardous waste, of which 46.5% (previous year 59%) was disposed of by incineration and 53.5% (previous year 41%) was able to be recycled.
The reduction and safe handling of waste is promoted at the plants within the scope of environmental management according to ISO 14001. At Geberit, all waste is disposed of and recycled by licensed disposal companies and inspected as part of external audits.
Key figures concerning waste by category are provided at Key figures sustainability > Environment.
Environmental compliance (GRI 307)
Management approach environmental compliance
In its Code of Conduct, Geberit states that it will limit the environmental impact of its business activities to a minimum. This calls for consistent compliance with all applicable laws, internationally recognised guidelines and industry standards. With many of the initiatives that it implements, Geberit goes above and beyond legal and official requirements. Reviewing and ensuring compliance with the law is a mandatory element of ISO 14001 certification (environment); as of 2020, this process was simplified with the roll-out of a new EHS (environment, occupational health and safety) compliance tool in logistics and the production plants in Switzerland, Poland and Ukraine. Monitoring is also part of the annual Group-wide survey on compliance with the Code of Conduct at all companies, see GRI 419.
Sanctions due to non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations (GRI 307-1)
There were no sanctions due to non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations in the reporting year.