Integrated Annual Report 2015
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1. Strategy and analysis

G4-1 CEO Statement

For the statement of Christian Buhl (CEO), see  CEO Statement on sustainability.

G4-2 Key impacts, risks and opportunities with regard to sustainability

A corporate culture in which sustainability is implemented in a measurable way enhances the value of the company and minimises the risks to its further development. Geberit has a decades-long commitment to sustainability and is a leader in this area, setting standards for customers, employees, suppliers and other partners. Various awards and rankings serve to confirm Geberit’s role as a leader in sustainability in various stakeholder groups’ perceptions. The “GemeinwohlAtlas für die Schweiz” (Common Good Atlas of Switzerland), for example, published a ranking of over 80 companies in 2015. Geberit performed well here, with 4.56 points on a scale from 1 (poor contribution to common good) to 6 (outstanding contribution to common good) and belongs to the leading group of exemplary companies.

Throughout the process of integrating the former Sanitec Group, Geberit aims to uphold these high sustainability standards and to expand upon them in the medium term. This is an ambitious goal, the achievement of which will make a significant contribution to long-term value creation for shareholders, customers, staff, suppliers and business partners, as well as for communities in numerous regions around the globe. The near doubling in the number of employees and production sites has led to a considerably larger ecological footprint. Because of the processes involved, the manufacture of sanitary ceramics – a new addition at Geberit – is resource- and energy-intensive. This almost results in a fivefold energy consumption in the Geberit Group and a nearly fourfold increase in environmental impact and CO2 emissions, which illustrates how great these challenges are. However, against this backdrop in particular, Geberit is able to benefit from sophisticated production and management systems to leverage previously untapped potential for improvement, with initial results beginning to show in 2015 (see area  Employees and area  Production).

Supplementary to the established  Sustainability Strategy and based on the GRI guidelines, the  Materiality analysis carried out prioritises the key topics for Geberit: water-saving, sustainable products; environmentally friendly and resource-efficient production; procurement and logistics with high environmental and ethical standards; and good, safe working conditions for the more than 12,000 employees worldwide. The corporate social responsibility is realised among other things within the scope of global social projects relating to the core competencies of water and sanitary facilities, and is intensified through memberships such as that with the non-profit organisation “Swiss Water Partnership” aimed at promoting international dialogue on water. There is also a long-term partnership with the Swiss development organisation Helvetas.

Sustainability means satisfying the needs of today’s generation in a manner that will ensure a solid basis for the livelihoods of future generations. The external challenges and objectives associated with this primarily pose an opportunity for Geberit. In September 2015, the United Nations defined the follow-up programme to the millennium development goals from the year 2000: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define concrete targets and indicators for 17 different themes which the states are required to implement by 2030. Integration of the economy plays a pivotal role in implementing these targets and indicators. Goal number six states that access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation must be available to all people around the world, under fair conditions. Improving resource efficiency when handling water plays an important role in this. The importance of the subject of water management for sustainable development is still undisputed. A growing world population, migration, urbanisation, climate change and natural disasters can lead to regions that are currently well supplied with water becoming problem regions in future. These global trends will have a major impact on future sanitary technology: water-saving and resource-efficient products are becoming ever more important. The EU is increasingly putting water conservation and sustainability on its political agenda and has for example developed ecolabels for efficient toilets, urinals, washbasin taps and showers.

The biggest environmental contribution by Geberit products also lies in the conservation of water. The analysis of the entire value chain (excluding products of the former Sanitec Group) in the form of a  water footprint shows that nearly 100% of the water consumption is attributable to the product usage phase. The water savings are impressive: According to one model calculation, all dual-flush and flush-stop cisterns installed since 1998 have so far saved around 20,200 million cubic metres of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2015 alone, the water saved amounted to around 2,280 million cubic metres. This is more than half of the annual consumption of all German households.

However, the continuous reduction of the ecological footprint of Geberit products goes beyond water saving. They impress with their quality, durability, resource efficiency, good environmental compatibility and high recyclability. Since 2007, Geberit has been consistently focussing on  eco-design, meaning new products are systematically examined and optimised in terms of environmental and safety aspects. This takes place along the entire value chain – from the selection of raw materials and utilisation right through to disposal. Thanks to this pioneering work, Geberit is well positioned in terms of EU requirements. The eco-design approach will also be applied gradually to the new product areas Bathroom Ceramics and Ceramics Complementary Products.

 Green building has become the standard in recent years in both the public and private construction sector. European standards are thus prescribing the use of sustainable products and systems in buildings. At the same time, more and more buildings are being constructed in accordance with sustainability standards such as DGNB, Minergie, BREEAM and LEED. Investors, project developers, owners and tenants are demanding system providers with holistic know-how regarding green building in order to satisfy the relevant standards. Geberit is addressing these issues with water and energy-saving, low-noise and durable products, consistently positioning itself in the frontline with regard to green building. (For reference projects, see the  reference magazine View In a next step, Geberit plans to create an internal area of competence as well as raising awareness among, and training, the technical advisors. In the long term, product catalogues and online information will be supplemented with the relevant data on green building.

Geberit combats risks posed by increasing regulation and changing framework conditions with an effective  compliance system that focusses on compliance in the five key topic areas of antitrust legislation, corruption, employee rights, product liability and environmental protection.