Annual Report 2023

Annual Report 2023


Water and waste water (GRI 303)

Management approach water and waste water

Water is of key importance to Geberit. The biggest environmental contribution made by Geberit products lies in the conservation of water. This is the most pivotal aspect in the company’s contribution towards sustainable development, increasing the resilience of water systems, and indirectly reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The risks for Geberit connected to water are low, as its own water consumption is minimal compared to the water consumption and water saved by the products. Opportunities for Geberit can be found in the limited local availability of water in many places as the result of climate change. In the risk analyses conducted periodically by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and published in its Global Risk Report 2024, water scarcity (a central topic in the context of crises in natural resources) was classified as one of the ten highest global risks in terms of impact over the next ten years. This trend has an influence on the development of sanitary technology. Water-saving, resource-efficient products will become increasingly important. Geberit is taking advantage of the opportunity to meet the growing worldwide demand for water-saving products and to contribute towards a more diligent handling of water.

According to one model calculation, all Geberit dual-flush and stop-and-go cisterns installed in place of traditional flushing systems (with 9-litre full flush volume) since 1998 have so far saved around 34,940 million m3 of water. In 2023 alone, the water saved amounted to 2,940 million m3. Since 2016, Geberit has been publishing its detailed water balance as part of the CDP Water Program. For further information, see Product management and innovation.

Handling and use of water (GRI 303-3, GRI 303-5)

The water footprint calculated along 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%). Nonetheless, Geberit also strives to optimise its own water consumption. This includes measures such as reusing water in laboratories and production processes. Ceramic production accounts for the biggest share of water consumption. Water consumption in relation to the amount of ceramic produced (l water/kg ceramic) increased by 11.7% compared to the previous year and amounted to 7.1 l/kg. Compared to 2015, it has been possible to reduce this key figure by 0.5%.

Overall it has been possible to further reduce water consumption in production to 850,178 m3 in the reporting year (previous year 908,407 m3). This is categorised into drinking water (31.4%), well water (44.4%), lake and river water (23.4%) and rain water (0.8%). Geberit’s risk management includes monitoring the extent to which certain sites are exposed to a water risk. According to the Water Risk Atlas from the World Resources Institute (WRI), the production sites in Gaeta (IT), Koło (PL), Ozorków (PL), Michigan City (USA), Shanghai (CN) and Pune (IN), which together account for 19% 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, 7.1 litres of water are needed for every kilo of ceramic produced. 5 to 10% of the water used in ceramic production is recycled internally, corresponding to around 68,300 m3 in 2023.

Another major consumer is the Geberit sanitary laboratory in Rapperswil-Jona (CH), where newly developed products are tested. The tests required 85,026 m3 of water, of which only around 1.6% was fresh water. The remaining 98.4% 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 blanks 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 2023 figure for waste water was 645,851 m3 (previous year 673,330 m3). At 72.3%, process waste water from the production of sanitary ceramics accounted for the largest share of the total. Another important category is domestic waste water (25.7%), which passes into the communal waste water treatment plant or is pretreated and fed into receiving waters. The remaining waste water (2.0%), 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.