En route to solutions for the future

05. December 2018

Sustainability is a trending topic: be it in the world of travel, shopping or cooking, the topic of sustainability is everywhere. According to a survey by the GfK market research institute, 88 per cent of those surveyed had heard of sustainability. An island in the North Sea and a company in the Black Forest demonstrate how the topic can be put into practice.

An island on its way to become a “climate island”

A community of 1,500 inhabitants in the North Sea. Surrounded by white idyllic beaches, the holiday destination provides everything holidaymakers could dream of. White surf, blue skies, white beaches and colourful roofed wicker beach chairs, also known as a “Strandkorb”. But for how much longer? The municipality of Juist is facing a problem. The sand is constantly being eroded along some of its beaches, creating a hook-shaped sand deposit on the eastern side of the island. Meanwhile, the beaches are becoming increasingly wider in other parts of the island. Juist is heavily affected by climate change, resulting in more frequent storm surges. But the community is standing its ground.

The municipal council came up with a concept that has since won awards: “Juist uses the concept of sustainable tourism as a catalyst for a holistic and convincing sustainability performance. The North Sea island is addressing its challenges with innovative and creative measures, immaculately using sustainability as an economic factor”, it states in the evaluation of the German Sustainability Award (“Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis”, or DNP), which the community was honoured with in 2015. But their goals remain ambitious: the community wants to be Germany’s first tourist destination to become carbon neutral by 2030, meaning it will offset the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Sustainability management in an industrial company

A company from the Black Forest also has ambitious objectives when it comes to sustainability. The fischer Group of Companies is working on its pioneering role in the industry with professional sustainability management and is now among this year’s finalists for the DNP.  The company is neither threatened by rising sea levels nor by storm surges, so why is it becoming involved?

“Companies of our size do not currently have to take a proactive approach to the topic of sustainability, however we want to take on a pioneering role and are therefore closely combining the topic with our company strategy”, reports Christian Ziegler, Sustainability Manager. “Through our fischer ProcessSystem (fPS) we are already so close to the issue that it is easy for us to take it just a small step further. Optimising processes and using our resources in a sparing manner within our company helps to avoid wastage. Values such as securing sites and customer orientation are already firmly anchored within our company mission statement. That is precisely what constitutes sustainability management”.

Back to the North Sea. The island of Juist is relying on alternative means of transportation in order to achieve its “climate island” goal. One of the aims of the region is for visitors to arrive by means of transportation other than air travel, ideally by train. There is another unusual transport method on the island: horse-drawn carriages, which replace cars and lorries.

Spring water and bio-based products

These measures may seem unsuitable for a manufacturer, especially for a manufacturer of fixing systems, among other things. But how can a company such as this act in a sustainable manner? “So-called sprue is created during injection moulding processes in our company. The sprue does not belong to the moulded part, yet we do not throw it away, instead we use it to create new granules for the production of anchors”, explains Ziegler. “The machines in our production hall also require cooling, which we use spring water for instead of drinking water”.

An employee in the production department came up with another idea for a sustainability project. His idea was to no longer wrap finished goods loaded on palettes in stretch foil for the short transport route between production and logistics, and instead affixing it using foodstuff glue. This reduced CO2 emissions by 177 tons per year.

Nominations as one of the Top 3 for the DNP

For decades fischer has placed immense value on sustainability and protecting the environment and therefore approaches these issues in a proactive manner. The company improved each year, continuously achieving a better ranking in the DNP. One of the reasons the DNP jury panel gave for nominating fischer as one of the finalists was the following: the main emphasis of fischerwerke is on innovative strength as a starting point for sustainable products. The company is able to substantiate this with over 1,500 trade mark rights. Sustainable solutions are given priority across all process levels and with a holistic approach.

fischer greenline

Castor oil serves as the basis for the plastic components of this range of products. It is derived from the seeds of the castor oil plant. The plants are not a threat to foodstuff and animal feedstuff, nor to their respective cultivation areas. The product range’s green anchors are one of ten selected strategic initiatives of Germany as a high-tech location. These strategic initiatives are selected and presented by the German government.

The Blue Path

Companies’ independent sustainability actions may be a good thing, but they are insufficient. The DNP emphases the importance of linking them with the company strategy. The organisers of the DNP set a positive example, describing their award ceremony as a green event from start to finish. A new highlight sees the guests walk down a blue carpet instead of a red one.

Blue is the colour of sustainability. The Swabian company therefore developed the Blue Path and did so before sustainability had even become a buzzword. Individual stops along the Blue Path therefore represent various sustainability activities and aim to continuously promote and create awareness for this issue both within the company as well as externally.

Because sustainability is the future.