Waste (GRI 306)
Management approach waste
According to the corporate life cycle assessment, waste disposal accounted for just 1.4% 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 (by-products) 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 (by-products) 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.
- Manufacture of bathroom furniture: This primarily generates wood waste that can be recycled externally.
- 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 is already the case in Koło, Włocławek (PL) and Slavuta (UA). This serves to increase efficiency, improve ergonomics and reduce raw material consumption and plaster waste. Moreover, in 2022, 6,900 tonnes of plaster (previous year 7,200 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 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 product use. 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. 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 (not including seat and lid). 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 67,554 tonnes in 2022 (previous year 74,989 tonnes). 16.4% of the waste was disposed of, while 83.6% (previous year 84.0%) was recycled externally. The total amount includes 1,359 tonnes (previous year 1,259 tonnes) of hazardous waste, of which 47.0% (previous year 46.5%) was disposed of by incineration and 53.0% (previous year 53.5%) 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, who are visited and inspected as part of external audits.
Key figures concerning waste by category are provided at Key figures sustainability > Environment.