Following on from our previous Sustainability Q&A Articles, Design Insider is thrilled to welcome the GROHE’S Marketing Activation Manager, Ebru Bircan. We found out about GROHE’S sustainability practices, targets, and their exciting innovative plans for the future of sustainability at Grohe.
1. Could you begin by telling me about Grohe’s work?
GROHE is a leading provider of complete bathroom solutions and kitchen fittings in both residential and commercial settings; its innovative water products are found in homes and projects around the world, from high-end hotels to state-of-the-art office blocks. GROHE’s brand values of technology, quality, design and sustainability drive its product innovations forward, and help to enhance “pure freude an wasser” or “enjoyment of water”.
2. When did you first begin to address sustainability within your business?
Sustainability has always been integral to GROHE’s brand identity and is one of the company’s key values. GROHE uses a 360-degree sustainability approach that incorporates employees, suppliers, customers, processes, products, as well as the company’s social contribution. All of GROHE’s products and manufacturing processes have been designed over time to conserve water and energy wherever possible, and are constantly evolving. For example, last year GROHE unveiled an industry-leading 3D metal printing process; this is a resource-efficient method of manufacturing, which uses only the material needed and therefore reduces excess wastage.
3. Sustainability is a key focus across your business, why is this so important?
Sustainability is a crucial element of GROHE‘s corporate strategy. Swelling populations and accelerating economies are craving more energy every day, the global economy is increasingly producing mountains of rubbish, and by 2050, UNESCO has predicted that 55% more drinkable water will be needed globally. As an industry leader, GROHE is ready to rise to these challenges through its sustainability initiatives and policies.
4. GROHE has committed itself to be one of the first leading sanitary manufacturers to produce CO2-neutral, how will you achieve this?
GROHE is proud to be one of the first leading sanitary manufacturers to commit itself to achieve carbon-neutral production which it announced in April 2020. The brand has been using green electricity since July 2019 at all of its five LIXIL EMENA production sites and in its German logistics centers. In addition, GROHE is investing in solar technology, combined heat and power plants, and innovative manufacturing processes, such as 3D metal-printing, to conserve vital resources.
5. What progress have you already made in reaching this target?
Since the introduction of the brand’s 2014 sustainability program, GROHE has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by around 40% and has increased its energy efficiency by 24%; both ahead of target.
To offset any CO2 emissions that GROHE has not yet been able to reduce, the company provides significant investment into two global projects: operational support of a hydroelectric power plant in India, which eliminates the need for coal-fired power plants, and a project in Malawi, which involves the repair and maintenance of boreholes used for drinking water abstraction.
6. Why is water not simply a resource?
For GROHE, water is much more than simply a resource. Only a very small percentage of the earth’s water is suitable for human consumption – and that is to be shared between around 7.8 billion people. Therefore, it is vital we continue to find innovative ways to conserve water without impeding on people’s appreciation of it. At GROHE, we also see water as something to be enjoyed – whether it be a luxurious bath after a long day or a refreshing drink straight from a filtered water tap.
7. In what ways is social responsibility an essential element to your sustainability strategy?
At GROHE, sustainability goes further than saving valuable resources. At the heart of sustainability is a powerful sense of responsibility – a responsibility that naturally extends from environment and people to society in general. Therefore, GROHE actively supports a number of societal improvement projects worldwide.
8. Could you tell me about some examples of how Grohe has addressed their social responsibility?
As well as the projects in India and Malawi to offset carbon emissions, GROHE is involved in numerous projects around the globe to help disadvantaged communities. For example, the GROHE Dual Tech program, in partnership with Don Bosco Mondo e.V., offers young people in developing countries the chance to train to become a professional installer.
GROHE has also launched the “Turn Water into Food” project in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. This unique scheme provides mosques with GROHE’s water saving taps and the amount of water saved is converted into food parcels. Until now, the project has supported more than 2,360 families with a meal.
9. Has the current pandemic impacted on the progress you have been making?
GROHE had a strong infrastructure already in place before the pandemic erupted, such as solar power operation, which has ensured the company has been able to keep progressing and innovating throughout this unprecedented time while ensuring the safety of our dedicated staff and customers.
10. What is your next step?
In 2018, GROHE launched its initiative to replace plastic in product packaging with more sustainable alternatives. To date, approximately 10 million items of product packaging made from plastic have been eliminated; by 2021, GROHE aims to significantly increase this figure to up to 35 million.
GROHE’s goal of reducing plastic waste is also strengthened by its cooperation with Marcella Hansch, founder of Pacific Garbage Screening e.V. Both GROHE and Marcella share the vision of reducing plastic waste in oceans and rivers, and the trained architect is developing a water platform that collects plastic in rivers before it is flushed into the oceans. Alongside GROHE’s financial support of the project, both partners are committed to raising public awareness of the plastic problem and how to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.
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