Long-term value creation
Geberit had already drawn up its first environmental strategy and implemented specific measures in 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 diversity & equal opportunity, health & safety, social responsibility, resources & circular economy, energy & CO2, eco-design & sustainable products as well as sustainable supply chains and green logistics.
For further details see Sustainability, Sustainability strategy.
The responsible and future-oriented corporate governance strengthens the resilience of Geberit’s business model and thus the long-term value creation of the company. All positions involved in the sustainability strategy and its implementation, with the corresponding tasks and responsibilities, are listed below; ultimate responsibility lies with the Board of Directors. Further information can be found in the TCFD reporting.
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 high-quality, 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).
Geberit again awarded platinum rating by EcoVadis
EcoVadis awarded the Geberit Group the platinum rating for its sustainability management for the third time running in 2022. It is the highest possible rating awarded following the annual evaluation. Geberit thus finds itself again in the top one percent of rated companies. EcoVadis is one of the world’s largest providers of business sustainability ratings and has created a global network of over 100,000 companies in around 175 countries. The comprehensive analysis takes into account 21 criteria in the areas Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement, and contributes towards ensuring transparency in sustainability performance of the companies. The top rating again shows both customers and suppliers that Geberit has a comprehensive, systematic sustainability management in place.
Environmental performance significantly improved again
In order to measure environmental performance, Geberit has used the Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method for many years, which takes into consideration a wide range of environmental impact factors (emissions, resources, waste) and summarises them as a key figure. In 2021, the Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method was updated in terms of the relevant basic data and eco-factors. The environmental impact of the Geberit Group calculated for the reporting year reflects these changes. In order to ensure comparability, the values from the previous year were also recalculated. The ecological assessment of additionally purchased electricity was also updated. This now takes into consideration the effectively purchased local electricity mix instead of the average value from the respective countries.
The absolute environmental impact of the Geberit Group decreased in 2022 by 17.1%; this with an increase in currency-adjusted net sales in the same period of 4.8%. The environmental impact in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (eco-efficiency) therefore even decreased by 20.9%. Since the integration of the energy-intensive ceramics production in 2015, eco-efficiency has improved by 56.8%. As regards the long-term target, which is based on an average improvement of 5% per year, Geberit therefore remains very well on course.
Substantial reduction in CO2 emissions
The update to the relevant data and eco-factors for environmental performance also applies to the calculation of CO2 emissions. The carbon footprint can then be illustrated even more precisely. The values from the previous year have also been recalculated here to ensure comparability. Compared to the previous year, absolute CO2 emissions fell substantially by 18.1% to 150,591 tonnes. In relation to currency-adjusted net sales, CO2 emissions decreased by 21.9%. As a result, the medium-term target set as part of the CO2 strategy of reducing CO2 emissions by 5% per year was clearly exceeded. Since the acquisition of the energy-intensive ceramics production in 2015, Geberit has been able to reduce CO2 emissions in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (CO2 intensity) by 56.4%. This substantial decrease results from the reduction of energy consumption, the increase in efficiency and the targeted purchase of high-quality renewable energy sources.
New CO2 strategy launched
The Geberit Group stands for an ambitious and implementation-oriented approach in its activities. The new CO2 strategy builds on the successes of the strategy 2015–2021. The central element is the integration of the CO2 strategy in all relevant business processes as well as the handling of CO2 emissions as external costs by means of internal CO2 pricing. With the new CO2 strategy, Geberit’s medium-term goal is a CO2 reduction of 5% per year compared to currency-adjusted net sales, which would correspond to an 80% reduction in relative CO2 emissions by 2035 compared to the reference year 2015.
For 2022, the CO2 reference price was set at EUR 60 per tonne. This is based on the price of the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) for CO2. The CO2 reference price represents the costs for saving one tonne of CO2. An implicit CO2 project price is calculated for each project using an economic efficiency calculation. This serves as a basis for deciding on investments in measures to reduce energy or CO2. With the newly introduced CO2 reference price, the responsibility for reducing the carbon footprint is widely supported within the company, thus ensuring that the measures taken have a long-term effect.
Furthermore, the annual achievement of the relative CO2 reduction will now be integrated as one of five equally weighted criteria in the calculation of the Group bonus. From the reporting year on, this annual emission reduction goal is 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 around 1,500 employees).
In the reporting year, Geberit also had the calculation of Group-wide CO2 emissions externally audited for the first time. Carried out by the consulting company intep, the successful audit of the greenhouse gas balance sheet (“limited assurance”) includes the calculation of CO2 emissions in Scopes 1 and 2, as well as the verification of processes on which this calculation is based. The standards of the WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol and ISO 14064-1 are applied here (see also Audit Report Greenhouse Gas Balance).
Pivotal in the CO2 strategy are measures for saving energy, increasing efficiency, heat recovery and procuring energy in the plants. The corresponding measures were developed as part of an energy master plan for the significant plants. Among other aspects, the share of green electricity in total electricity was increased by a further 27 GWh from 85 GWh in the previous year. As of the end of 2022, over 70% of the electricity thus came from renewable energy sources and certified green production.
For more details, see the new CO2 strategy and the Sustainability Performance Report.
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 908,407 m3 (previous year 925,230 m3). In comparison with 2015, the year that saw the integration of the ceramics business, water consumption fell by 22.4%. Geberit consistently applies measures to successively reduce water consumption. In particular, this includes measures such as reusing water in laboratories and the production process. At around 80%, ceramic production accounts for the biggest share of water consumption; savings of 10.9% have been achieved in this area since 2015.
With eco-design, the products are also checked and improved with regard to water consumption. Geberit’s innovative sanitary products help to systematically optimise water consumption in buildings. Rimless ceramic appliances, optimised TurboFlush technology, water-saving taps and urinals or the flush valve 212 all help customers handle water sparingly. According to a model calculation, water consumption for toilet flushing, for example, has decreased since 1952 by around 80% from 70 litres to 14 litres per person per day thanks to several innovations such as Geberit dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns.
Circular economy and longevity
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 an important 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 drainage pipes. An important contribution to the longevity of Geberit products and systems is that a significant proportion of the product range also has a guaranteed spare parts availability of 25 years. From 2023, spare parts availability will be extended and increased from 25 to 50 years for concealed cisterns, and a lifetime guarantee will now be provided for ceramic products. 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, from the selection of raw materials right through to disposal. The eco-design principle follows the circular economy approach. Every new product should 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. Since 2007, a total of 180 eco-design workshops have been held as part of the development of new products.
Among other aspects, the goal in production is to close internal material cycles, as well as to minimise waste and recycle it where appropriate. For example, sound-insulating Geberit SilentPanels for the prewall were launched on the Swiss market in the reporting year. 60% of the material used in manufacturing the SilentPanels comes from recycled PET bottles and the product can be reused easily. As a result, it was possible to significantly reduce material usage compared to standard construction.
Careful handling of plastics
Among other aspects, the use of recycled plastics is constantly promoted as part of the eco-design workshops. 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 will be used increasingly, for example as transport protection for Mepla pipes. Moreover, almost 100% of plastic waste from production is recycled internally and reused, which corresponded to around 9,100 tonnes of plastic in 2022.
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 packaging of the MasterFix fittings was revised in the reporting year. The annual material savings amount to 1.8 tonnes of cardboard and 58,000 m2 of plastic foil – an area equivalent to around eight football fields. This results in a saving of around 24 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The optimisation of packaging is given increased importance and efforts in this area are being constantly stepped up. A Group-wide strategy is currently being drawn up here with the goal of further reducing the consumption of resources while simultaneously offering optimal protection to the 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 (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 and digital building planning with BIM 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 impact in a transparent manner. In 2022, the process for creating EPDs was simplified and the new EN 15804+A2 standard applied. In the reporting year, in addition to the existing 14 EPDs, a new one for the Duofix WC element was added. This means that products with an EPD account for around 30% of Group sales.
Comprehensive controlling and reporting
Since 2006, the sustainability performance of the Geberit Group has been reported annually in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The information disclosed within the scope of this reporting has been compiled in accordance with the new GRI Standards 2021. The corresponding GRI Content Index was audited according to the GRI Content Index – Essentials Service and met the requirements, see GRI label and formal GRI Content Index. All aspects of the GRI Standards can be found in the Sustainability Performance Report for 2022. The materiality analysis was examined by an external stakeholder panel in 2022. As part of the stakeholder panel – which takes place every two years and was held for the sixth time in the reporting year – Geberit’s sustainability strategy and how it is implemented are subjected to critical scrutiny. In the opinion of the six external experts, the sustainability strategy at Geberit was thoroughly anchored in all business processes and continuous improvements were made in its implementation once again.
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. This is set out in a Communication on Progress regarding measures in the areas of human rights, labour practices, environmental protection and anti-corruption, which 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. A system for the control and management of all risks involved in entrepreneurial activities is in place throughout the Group (also see Risk management. For the first time, Geberit also reported on climate-related risks according to TCFD guidelines (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures). The TCFD is a working group set up by the Financial Stability Board of the G20 countries. TCFD guidelines aim to ensure the transparency of climate-related financial information for investors, lenders and insurance companies. The report on governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and goals discloses how Geberit identifies and deals with physical risks and transition risks and chances that are caused by climate change and may have a financial impact on the company (see also TCFD reporting).
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 (with the exception of the new furniture manufacturing plant in Stryków (PL)) 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 products and sustainable business management is increasing, see also EcoVadis. Geberit is meeting the increased demand for communication on sustainability via various information channels. In the reporting year, communication on sustainability was expanded with additional information for specific customer groups (architects, sanitary specialists, consumers). Furthermore, education and training on sustainability topics were intensified for the company’s own sales representatives.
The activities in terms of sustainable business management are also recognised by the capital market. The Geberit share is prominently represented in the sustainability stock indices and sustainability funds segment. Geberit wants to continue to play a pivotal role in the “Sustainability” and “Water” investment segments.