Annual Report 2023

Annual Report 2023


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 883 million is a significant production factor for Geberit. CO2 emissions associated with purchased materials amount to 555,619 tonnes of CO2 (Scope 3) and are responsible for 55.0% of Geberit’s entire CO2 emissions. These values emphasise the importance of treating raw materials with care.

Geberit considers the resource-efficient use of raw materials 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 GRI 305 and Product management and innovation.

Resource efficiency in plastics processing is already very high. Thanks to internal recycling, almost 100% of all processed plastics can be reused in production. The processes involved in ceramic production result in large quantities of waste (in particular fired ceramic scrap, used plaster moulds and mineral sludge from waste water). Resource efficiency in ceramic production fell by 2.2% to 0.42 kg waste/kg ceramic in the reporting year. An improvement of 10% to 0.4 kg waste/kg ceramic is envisaged for the period 2021 to 2024.

Risks associated with the unsatisfactory implementation of the strategic approaches primarily consist of rising costs for procurement and processing in production, as well as reputation risks, which can be significant to tenders for green building projects. As part of a resource-saving circular economy, Geberit is looking to identify options for implementing 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 service life, as many of them will be installed in buildings for decades. This is guaranteed through the use of high-quality 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. In 2023, the spare parts availability for concealed cisterns and their mechanical components was increased from 25 to 50 years. A lifetime guarantee was also introduced for ceramic products (excluding seat and lid). 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.

As part of the eco-design workshops, efforts continue towards constantly increasing the share of purchased plastic regranulate used in products (post-consumer waste). Alongside recycled ABS and LDPE, 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.

Since 2020, Geberit has also been supporting the Operation Clean Sweep initiative, which is committed to ensuring that plastic granules do not pollute the environment. A review was carried out at all plastic-processing plants worldwide, and measures for improvement defined and implemented. These include raising staff awareness and regularly 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 participated in a TEPPFA study on the overall consideration of environmental aspects in the plastic pipe industry. In the study, the costs and benefits of different measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and improving recyclability were assessed, in particular with regard to the use of plastic regranulate in piping systems.

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, four plants in the area of metal composites and metal, and one plant for manufacturing bathroom furniture. The range of production processes used thus includes the areas of ceramic production, plastic injection moulding, plastic blow moulding, plastic extrusion, metal- and thermoforming, woodworking and assembly.

The most important materials in the production of sanitary products are plastic and metal raw materials, mineral raw materials and various semi-finished products and finished products. A total of 381,524 tonnes of materials were used in 2023 (previous year 468,344 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 has since been rolled out in 24 production plants. This means that a standardised, efficient process now exists for managing hazardous operating and auxiliary materials. In 2023, the volume of hazardous substances used was reduced by 11%. 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.

Internal sources:

Thanks to internal recycling, almost 100% of all processed plastics can be reused in production. The 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 7,200 tonnes in total (previous year 9,100 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 22,900 tonnes in total.

External sources:

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 four tonnes less CO2 per tonne of regranulate into the atmosphere. In 2023, 792 tonnes of ABS regranulate (previous year 934 tonnes) were used for various components in exposed and concealed cisterns, the mounting frame for actuator plates, and in the plastic flush guide of WC ceramic appliances. 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. The new fill valve type 383 will also contain ABS regranulate. The use of plastic regranulate is generally to be increased further and applied to other product areas. Other high-quality recycled plastics (post-consumer waste) used include polyethylene (LDPE) and polypropylene (PP), with annual volumes of 49 tonnes and 2 tonnes, respectively.

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 30,000 tonnes of recycled material.

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 be reused or recycled only to a very limited extent. Recyclability can be improved by using recyclable thermoplastics instead of non-recyclable duroplast plastics, as is the case with the manufacture of WC seats and lids at the plant in Pfullendorf (DE).

In the reporting year, a Group-wide packaging strategy was developed with the aim of harmonising processes and reducing costs and resource consumption. In the first step, the quality and availability of master data will be improved and processes harmonised. In addition, an inspection catalogue has been drawn up with the aim of reducing transport damage (especially to ceramics). 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 for packaging materials. 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 or replaced by a QR code, thus saving paper. The use of polystyrene (EPS) and expanding foam are avoided wherever possible and, where necessary, replaced with recyclable cardboard. The first results from this strategy can be seen on the shower toilet. The packaging has been standardised and simplified, allowing the amount of packaging used to be reduced by a third. The next step will see the new packaging strategy rolled out in production and logistics and integrated more effectively into the product development process. In addition, further pilot projects with substantial reduction potential are to be evaluated and implemented. In 2023, around 29,300 tonnes of packaging material were used (previous year 35,400 tonnes).