Creating sustainable solutions for the vital challenges of our time is only possible on the back of responsible operations. The unique role that industry has in our lives leads to ever rising public and regulatory expectations around what constitutes acceptable business practices, including what and how companies produce and the wellbeing of their workforce. The corona pandemic has further underscored the importance of valuing employees and taking effective health and safety precautions. This is not only good business but also good for business.
In other words, contributing to a better world requires businesses to start with themselves. And because each company operates within much larger value chains, suppliers need to join the effort. When it comes to addressing climate change, this also includes energy providers and governments, who largely set the agenda for how manufacturing is powered.
At GEA, we strive to be a responsible company and a trustworthy partner to our many stakeholders around the world. With 340 facilities located across 62 countries, we play a key role in supporting manufacturers across diverse industries, while providing attractive employment for a skilled workforce.
To stay ahead of the curve and increase our positive contribution, we aim to further scrutinize our own operations and improve GEA’s global footprint. To that end, we have set specific targets to mitigate the impact of our production on the world’s climate, safeguard precious natural resources and ensure high social standards. And by formalizing our corporate giving strategy and proactively supporting employee volunteer efforts we strengthen our role in the communities we operate in.
Even greater emphasis will be put on ensuring our production becomes more environmentally friendly and resource efficient. This entails a significant reduction of GHG emissions in line with our new climate targets. Another focus lies on targets for avoiding or recycling waste and saving water at our sites. Furthermore, we ask our suppliers to ensure compliance with high standards of corporate responsibility.
Country by country, our plants and offices are moving to electricity generated from 100 percent renewable sources. This can mean adding solar energy or switching to energy-efficient combined heat, power and cooling systems – or a combination of both. The transition to LED lighting at our sites alone is contributing to substantial energy savings. And by integrating sophisticated energy management systems across our network, sites can use energy more efficiently and precisely.
With our Factory of the Future concept, we have a model that sets new standards for optimizing our global manufacturing footprint and performance by targeting sustainability, automation and digital transformation in production. Encompassing both green- and brownfield GEA factories, our aim is to achieve highly efficient and emission-neutral production at facilities that are competitive and that operate according to industry best-practice.
The greenfield project at our existing Koszalin location in Poland offers a comprehensive glimpse into how we envision a Factory of the Future – from the ground up. Once fully operational and various relocation measures have been completed, this competitive, climate-neutral production site will serve as a center of excellence for pump production and component machining, offering maximum efficiency and flexible production to suit our changing needs and those of our customers. The integration of lean measures, enhanced connectivity and automation will further reduce waste in all forms at this facility.
And in China, we are actively consolidating our production footprint. This will allow us to further invest in our existing multi-purpose site in Suzhou, which serves four out of five GEA divisions. Already a production powerhouse for us in Asia Pacific, we are developing a road map to transition this facility to renewable energy sources and will introduce additional measures to significantly reduce Scopes 1 to 3 emissions.
Improving the site's operational performance and optimizing the cost structure with more efficient energy consumption will not only help to further increase the site’s attractiveness, but also provide flexibility and resilience in the event of future power restrictions and other rationing measures.
The Factory of the Future exemplifies how we intend to move towards state-of-the-art sustainability practices across our operations. But achieving our ambitious goals and targets also requires the willingness of suppliers and partners to take this journey with us. To this end, we are evaluating the sourcing of services and goods across our business and reexamining our overall relationships with suppliers given GEA’s evolving needs.
In addition to the comprehensive assurances, reviews and audits that are already standard practice today in supplier relationships, we will soon be asking our preferred suppliers to comply with defined sustainability criteria.
Senior Vice President of Direct Procurement, GEA
To support this, we will partner with EcoVadis to establish a responsible ESG-based sourcing approach. For example, we plan to integrate climate-related information from our logistics suppliers to support the reduction of emissions in our own supply chain. As a result of the overall evaluation process, we will narrow down our preferred supplier list to include only those who meet our defined sustainability criteria by 2026. “GEA is committed to reducing its own GHG emissions and reaching net zero by 2040,” states Florian Wintermantel, Senior Vice President of Direct Procurement, GEA. “But to get there, we need a commitment from our partners and suppliers. We know they will answer the call and join us on this journey.”
As a global manufacturer, we want to ensure GEA is conducting business according to the high social standards we and our stakeholders expect. That’s why we are working hard to reduce waste, freshwater withdrawals and above all, GHG emissions, across our entire business. Going forward, we will also expand our co-innovation activities with partners and suppliers to find additional sustainable solutions.
In doing so, we realize that the challenges we face collectively also present an enormous opportunity. There is no doubt that industry can reshape and improve economies through its ingenuity and wide scope of influence across networked value chains. This is how we engineer for a better world while creating the basis for our own long-term success.
GEA is one of the world’s largest systems suppliers for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. Our portfolio includes machinery and plants as well as advanced process technology, components and comprehensive services. Used across diverse industries, they enhance the sustainability and efficiency of production processes globally.
GEA is listed in the German MDAX and the STOXX® Europe 600 Index and is also among the companies comprising the DAX 50 ESG and MSCI Global Sustainability Indices.
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