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, and this is the pivotal aspect in the company’s contribution towards sustainable development and its efforts to indirectly reduce CO2 emissions. Innovative 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 42,050 million m3 of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2022 alone, the water saved amounted to 3,840 million m3 (previous year 3,590 million m3). This is roughly equivalent to the total amount of water consumed by all private households in Germany in 2022. Since 2016, Geberit has been publishing its detailed water balance as part of the CDP Water Program. For further information, see Products and innovation.
Handling and use of water (GRI 303-3, GRI 303-5)
The water footprint spanning Geberit’s 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 life cycle assessment 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 (0.5%). Despite this, Geberit 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. At around 80%, ceramic production accounts for the biggest share of water consumption. Water consumption in this area (l water/kg ceramic) increased by 8.7% compared to the previous year and amounted to 6.4 l/kg. Compared to 2015, it has been possible to reduce water consumption by 10.9%. By 2024, water consumption should be reduced to 5.6 l/kg ceramic.
Overall it has been possible to further reduce water consumption to 908,407 m3 in the reporting year (previous year 925,230 m3). This is categorised into drinking water (34.6%), well water (40.8%), lake and river water (23.6%) and rain water (1.0%). According to the Water Risk Atlas from the World Resources Institute (WRI), the production sites in Lichtenstein (DE), Gaeta (IT), Koło (PL), Włocławek (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, and this is necessary for the preparation of the ceramic slip and glaze, and for cleaning the moulds and systems. On average, 6.4 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 72,000 m3 in 2022.
Another major consumer is the Geberit sanitary laboratory in Rapperswil-Jona (CH), where newly developed products are tested. The tests required 110,718 m3 of water, of which only around 1.5% was fresh water. The remaining 98.5% 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 plaster moulds and ceramic parts 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 2022 figure for waste water was 673,330 m3 (previous year 686,169 m3). At 72.8%, process waste water from the production of sanitary ceramics accounted for the largest share of the total. Another important category is domestic waste water (24.9%), which passes into the communal waste water treatment plant or is pretreated and fed into receiving waters. The remaining waste water (2.3%), which is pretreated and fed into a communal waste water treatment plant, is of lesser importance. Waste water was not reused by external companies. Detailed key figures on waste water can be found at Key figures sustainability > Environment.