Reducing our carbon footprint and building a circular economy

In this blog, Director of Corporate Sustainability, Fieke de Haan, takes a look at some of our short- (2025), medium- (2030) and long-term (2040) targets for reducing our carbon footprint to zero and introducing circular solutions.

“By 2025, 100% of the energy we use at the Veghel campus will come from renewables, and 80% globally.”
Fieke de Haan
Director of Corporate Sustainability

What you won’t use you don’t have to renew, which is why our roadmap to zero carbon starts with energy reduction. In the short-term, we have set a target for our own buildings to reduce our energy use by 10% in 2025 compared to 2020. After that, we will decrease our consumption by 2% year on year.

The use of renewable energy is going to be standard as of 2030. Our goal is to produce our own renewable energy, or purchase it when that is not possible. By 2025, 100% of the energy we use at the Veghel campus will come from renewables, and 80% globally.

Opened last year, the new building at our headquarters is a good example of our commitment to saving energy – and producing our own. More than 300 solar panels have been installed on the roof, and a thermal energy storage system means that no natural gas is required to heat the building.

To manage the continuous improvement of our energy performance – as well as our waste reduction measures – we have adopted ISO 50001 and 14001, which are internationally recognised environmental management systems. These certifications will be standard for all our locations with more than 250 FTEs from 2030.

By 2025, our ten largest locations will be certified with ISO 50001, and five manufacturing locations with ISO 14001. In fact, sites at Veghel, Birmingham, London, Monchengladbach, Siegen, Barcelona and Santpedor are, or will be, certified by the end of this year.

We’re a global business, delivering our systems and services to every continent, so business travel is inevitable. Having said that, we have to – and want to – significantly reduce the number of flights we take to customers’ sites, and even more so internally between our own facilities. We will only travel if meeting online is not an option. If travel is necessary, we choose the most sustainable option.

In addition, we’ve set targets for commuting, which will see us cutting emissions in this area by 40% in the short term and 75% by 2040. Again, we can achieve this by working from home or remotely, and by enabling and encouraging our employees to choose more sustainable modes of transport.

Value chain collaboration

For a company like ours, the solutions we provide make up the majority of our carbon emissions. That’s why collaborating with suppliers and customers is essential in reaching our targets.

Together with our suppliers, we aim for a year-on-year reduction in emissions from transport and supplies. We are currently in the process of collecting data. The steps to take will be optimising order size, efficient loading and transitioning to lower carbon materials and modes of transport.

The energy consumed by our solutions during their use phase accounts for 50-95% of their total carbon footprint. As we do want to make an impact, we have to design for energy efficiency. A good example is the new version of our QUICKSTORE MINILOAD warehouse solution, which comes with a number of energy-saving technologies.

Waste not, want not

Our targets relating to the circular economy reflect the urgent need to reduce the use of virgin materials. To make circular design principles part of our way of working, we’re collaborating with customers on new business models – such as remanufacturing – and will increase our reverse logistics efforts, both directly and in collaboration with suppliers.

We’re introducing material passports for all new solutions, and virgin plastics are to be replaced with low-carbon alternatives. We’ve made some important first steps, having redesigned our automated case picking (ACP) trays to minimise the use of virgin plastic. In addition, we’re currently testing trays made of 100% post-consumer polypropylene and looking into the use of environmentally friendly bio-based materials.

All our locations will have waste separation measures in place by 2025. By 2030, the Veghel campus will generate zero waste, while 90% of waste will be recycled at our other locations. By 2030, we will see a 5% year-on-year reduction of waste generated per unit of production.

We can also keep our solutions working efficiently for longer through careful life-cycle management. To help with this process, an increasing number of projects will have life-cycle plans by 2023.

Global collaboration

We’re also committed to contributing to the global circular economy transition. We’re one of the first members of the Capital Equipment Coalition, a PACE (Platform for Accelerating Circular Economy) initiative. The Coalition collaboratively identifies challenges and opportunities, shares best practices and develops solutions to drive change towards a circular economy for Capital Equipment.

By openly sharing progress, insights and learnings, the Coalition engages and enables other players in the public and private sectors with the knowledge to accelerate collective progress towards a circular economy.

In my next blog, I will outline our targets relating to the missions for good business and fulfilling experiences.