Heidelberg is redoubling its activities in sustainability management. Against the backdrop of the global challenges caused by climate change, and as part of its sustainability strategy, Heidelberg has made a commitment to become climate neutral by 2030. To help achieve this goal, the company has set up an Environmental Social Governance (ESG) panel, which is responsible for developing strategy and defining, implementing, and monitoring the associated measures. The panel is headed by Dr. Eva Boll, who reports directly to the CEO.
“Heidelberg is well aware of its responsibilities regarding the dangers posed by global climate change and affirms the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement,” says the company’s CEO, Rainer Hundsdörfer. “For many years, we have been actively working to gradually minimize harmful emissions and reduce the health and environmental impact of our sites. We have now made a further commitment to ensuring our worldwide production and distribution sites are operating on a climate-neutral basis by 2030, which is earlier than required by legislation.”
To achieve this goal, Heidelberg has already defined several measures and started to roll them out. Initially, the focus is on increasing energy efficiency at all production and distribution sites and supplying these sites with green energy. This alone will lead to a clear reduction in CO2 emissions. The company will then use emissions certificates to offset the residual, unavoidable emissions. Heidelberg subsequently aims to achieve complete climate neutrality at its sites without the use of emissions certificates by 2040 at the latest.
Holistic ESG sustainability strategy – more than just climate neutrality
However, the ESG sustainability strategy at Heidelberg extends far beyond the issue of climate neutrality. The company sees sustainability as a long-term balance between the environment, business, and social responsibility and is focusing on the areas of climate strategy, environmentally friendly products, sustainable HR management, compliance, and good governance.
“Heidelberg has made a commitment to sustainable HR management geared toward issues such as new work, demography management, inclusion and diversity, health management, and employer branding,” explains Marcus A. Wassenberg, CFO and Chief Human Resources Officer at Heidelberg. “After all, a growing number of financial market players are putting more emphasis on sustainability management as a key criterion for future investment decisions.”
Human rights issues and environmental considerations are also to be anchored throughout the entire value chain, which includes all the suppliers to the Heidelberg Group.
“Heidelberg takes a holistic view of sustainability management and factors in all aspects, such as climate and environmental protection with regard to the production and use of its products, and social criteria,” states the head of ESG at Heidelberg, Dr. Eva Boll. “Over the coming weeks and months, we will be continuing to work step by step on the catalog of criteria and planned measures. By the end of the current financial year, we will create a road map with interim targets for the years ahead. The environment, cost-efficiency, and social responsibility will all go hand in hand.”
Global trend toward sustainability opens up new growth opportunities
All in all, the global trend toward climate and environmental protection and sustainability is also opening up new growth opportunities for Heidelberg. One example concerns the company’s activities in the field of electromobility. For example, Heidelberg is already the market leader in Germany for the wallboxes commonly used to charge electric vehicles, and is planning to gradually expand its portfolio in the fields of charging infrastructure and the smart home. An international rollout is also a key element of this strategy. Furthermore, Heidelberg has extensive expertise in automation concepts and solutions for carbon-free production that can also be put to good use outside the graphic arts industry.
“The holistic approach adopted by Heidelberg in its sustainability management activities is not just an expression of our sense of responsibility. Thanks to the decarbonization solutions that are integral to this approach, it also opens up new growth opportunities for the company in a whole range of sectors, even outside our core business,” Hundsdörfer points out.
Sustainability has been integral to the corporate strategy at Heidelberg for decades
The topic of sustainability has been a core aspect of corporate strategy at Heidelberg since the early 1990s.
The company has had an accredited environmental management system in place since 1996 and has been certified to ISO 14001 since 2001. Another milestone is the efficiency optimization of the exceptionally energy-intensive foundry at the Amstetten site. For instance, Heidelberg has been able to demonstrably improve energy efficiency at this site by more than 20 percent since 2012. As part of this achievement, heating, ventilation, and lighting systems have been improved or renovated, motors have been replaced, and the smelting process optimized. Further energy efficiency projects are also continuously being rolled out at other sites. A number of workshops have been modernized in line with standards laid down by KfW (Germany’s promotional bank) and switching over to LED lighting technology has also improved energy efficiency on a lasting basis. There has been an energy concept at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site for many years. Steps such as building two cogeneration plants and the current measures to reduce square footage are also having a beneficial impact on the site’s energy balance. Since November 2021, Heidelberg has also been the first folding machine manufacturer worldwide to make all machines from the Ludwigsburg plant CO2-neutral.
In terms of its portfolio, Heidelberg is developing environmentally friendly and reliable products for all stages in the life cycle, i.e. in relation to production, operation, disposal, and recycling. Compared to 1990, Heidelberg has driven down energy requirements for the printed sheet by 40 percent. When it comes to paper waste, other types of waste, energy consumption, and emissions, the company has systematically geared its products towards sustainability so that customers can manufacture their printed products under the slogan “Think Economically, Print Ecologically”.
Back in 2012, Heidelberg became the first press manufacturer to calculate the CO2 emissions associated with the production of its presses (cradle to gate) and can manufacture them on a carbon-neutral basis if so requested by customers. The corresponding carbon offsetting certification program supports the reforestation project “Sodo”, which is run by the non-governmental organization “World Vision” in Ethiopia. This project has itself been accredited as “Gold Standard”.
In addition, Heidelberg has also joined several sustainability initiatives, including the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of the VDMA, and most recently the CEOs bekennen Farbe initiative, which promotes the use of recycled paper, the 4evergreen forum, which is designed specifically for the packaging sector, and the Healthy Printing initiative.