Avoiding and Reducing Waste in Our Production Centers

We take a holistic approach to tackling waste, which means we look at all aspects of our processes to find savings.

In 2013/2014, various actions at our production sites in Argentona (Spain) led to significant waste reduction across the manufacturing chain. For example, the implementation of a new procedure and the simplification and streamlining of high-waste process points all along the packaging line were among the efforts contributing to these positive results. Quality improvements in outer packaging and greater mindfulness in the area of transport also helped reduce materials consumption by 30 percent. Employee awareness and training efforts were key to the initiative's success.

In our Spanish production site in Tres Cantos we introduced a new computerized protocol format for communication between shifts in 2013; as such the process is now paperless. In 2012 the shrink wrap process for shipping boxes was optimized, the hot melt application process per shipping box was shortened and, instead of IBC containers, tanks are now used for storing certain raw materials.

In 2013 our production facility in Berlin, Germany, carried out a project to identify the origins of waste along with the causes. By having a clearer idea about a material’s waste profile, it is easier to find new solutions for waste reduction. On top of this, the Value Streaming Method (VSM) was used to analyze processes to find out where waste is created and to highlight major potential improvements.  

At our biggest production center in Hamburg, Germany, we introduced environmentally-friendly solutions for secondary packaging in 2013; for instance, we are now using thinner cardboard to save resources while at the same time using packaging which is a better fit in terms of storage and requires less logistical handling. This has also led to a reduction in material costs.

The "Pack Less Project", which aims to reduce and standardize the stretch film application on pallets, was implemented in 2013 at our production center in Itatiba, Brazil. A standard procedure was implemented to reduce the number of wrap-arounds per pallet. This initiative resulted in a 25% reduction in stretch film consumption and also resulted in less waste being generated. The same production center also carried out technical improvements in both the adding processes and the mixing machines in 2013. Thanks to these improvements they have been able to enhance both the ergonomic functionality of the mixers and at the same time reduce raw material losses.

Doing Our Bit by Sorting and Labeling

To make it easier and more convenient for our employees, we extended our paper sorting in 2013 in our offices in Paris, France. In addition, we standardized all waste bins in our production center in Hamburg for all departments to optimize waste recycling. To simplify handling, standard colors and descriptions are now used for the different types of waste. We also installed a recycling station in our office in Basel, Switzerland, in 2013. There are now recycling bins for PET plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass, cardboard and used batteries.

After the successful first trial in 2013, the Beiersdorf and tesa waste managers initiated another visit by the Hamburg city cleaning department's mobile hazardous waste collection. In June 2014, staff at the Hamburg locations once again had the opportunity to dispose of paints, used oils, batteries, cleaning products and other items that cannot be put in household waste due to their toxic content, directly on the company premises.

Reducing the Paper Trail and Intelligent Printing

We have launched two initiatives to significantly reduce paper consumption and raise awareness among our employees of more environmentally friendly practices, such as printing double sided.

On June 5th 2013, International Environment Day, the Southern Cone Group (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru) launched a "Paper Fair Use Policy" aimed at reducing paper consumption and environmental impact. The target is 25% less consumption within the first year. Common criteria on purchasing paper have been defined: only recycled, FSC or sugarcane paper are now considered acceptable; all printing and copying equipment is being optimized; all discarded paper is being recycled and all employee communication is done digitally. Awareness raising and information sharing are encouraged among all colleagues to highlight best practice ways of using and saving paper. All Hamburg locations, Beiersdorf, BSS, BMH and tesa, are making the transition to using recycled paper in printers and copiers in order to conserve resources.

Sharing Ideas across the Company

One successful initiative from our Spanish facility in Argentona has been running since 2011. A new way of handling the siliconized release paper, which is produced as a by-product of the plaster production process, was developed. Instead of landfilling, the release paper is now collected separately and sent to a recycling company in Austria, where it is turned into high-quality, recycled paper products. In 2012 our other production centers in Europe started to follow the Spanish lead. Our production center in Hamburg collected a total of 184 tons of siliconized release paper in 2014 - 51 tons more than in 2013 - and sent it to Austria. This action resulted in a CO2 reduction of 421 tons.

Eating and Drinking Sustainably

The food waste generated in our production center restaurant in Brazil is being composted in an internal composting plant. This initiative, which started in 2012, reduces the volume of waste and therefore the amount of transportation required to bring the waste to landfill. In 2013 we started the initiative "Zero Waste" in our Brazilian restaurant. This initiative aims to raise awareness among the employees about food waste and how it affects society, the environment and public health. This initiative also seeks to reduce the amount of food waste generated. We inform our employees in various ways; for instance, by sharing videos and information about food waste in Brazil. More of our employee engagement activities can be found here.

We launched a collaboration with “foodsharing” in Hamburg in June 2013. This charitable organisation promotes the free transfer of undamaged foods compliant with food laws to social support establishments. Some two years after the launch of our partnership, the outcome is positive: We have donated 14,9 tons of unconsumed food from the corporate restaurant to institutions that put them to use in their own kitchens to serve people in need. These include the “CaFée mit Herz” in Hamburg St. Pauli. This organisation serves poor, unemployed and homeless people in the nearby area, who rely on the help and support of others due to their personal living circumstances.

Our Catering in Hamburg was chosen from 75 competitors by the sustainability board of the newly launched “Genießt uns!” (Enjoy us!) initiative in September 2014. This very diverse federation sponsored by “WWF Germany” and “Deutsche Welthungerhilfe” is committed to raising awareness of food quality, and motivates businesses around Germany to actively combat food waste. Its goals include networking players from business, science, the media and politics across Germany, and cutting food waste in half by 2020 – a goal that was proclaimed by the German government.

At the beginning of October 2013 we changed from disposable plastic cups to glass ones in our canteen in Milan, Italy. As a result we are saving more than 250 plastic cups per day - that is about 70,000 plastic glasses a year.  

In order to reduce the amount of waste from plastic bottles (PET), our Basel office in Switzerland has significantly cut the range of plastic bottles available since June 2013. Every employee has been given their own glass bottle, which they can use and reuse. This has led to a reduction in PET bottles of 50%.