Our aspirations and path towards carbon neutrality are clear. There is extensive work to be done as we make this sustainability journey and encourage others to make it as well. But we have taken many important strides along the way.
Strategically investing in energy efficiency in our operations
What if our ovens also produced energy? This is the case in two of our sheet glass production plants, in Pisa, Italy and Chennai, India, where we trialled an innovative process to retrieve thermal energy from our industrial ovens and fed this captured energy back into the factory. The heat we capture from the ovens can be converted into electricity, to supply the factory’s internal network, or into compressed air, for the operation of certain machines’ pneumatic systems.
We invested several million Euros in this innovative process that helps to significantly improve the energy efficiency of our Pisa and Chennai sites, saving 5,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year. This joint initiative, powered by the collaboration of central industrial department and the teams in Italy and India, illustrates our boundless commitment to develop energy efficient manufacturing processes.
It is also emblematic of the role that our internal carbon price plays in guiding the investment decision: this multi-million Euro innovative process is a profitable investment in the medium term due to just how much carbon emissions we can avoid thanks to its efficiency features.
Advancing our energy mix
Saint-Gobain signed a 12-year power purchase agreement in early 2020 to help reduce its CO₂ emissions in the USA while also supporting the construction of the Blooming Grove wind farm in Illinois.
The Group will receive renewable energy certificates which will reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity consumed. This will result in a 21% reduction in Saint-Gobain’s CO₂ emissions. The wind farm, currently under construction, will be in operation at the end of 2020.
This agreement is the largest carbon-free energy purchase agreement we have ever signed as a company. It shows our desire to prioritise the “Power Purchase Agreement” (PPA) amongst the possible tools to advance the energy mix in favour of sustainable and renewable sources of energy.
Optimizing our logistics and transport
In both manufacturing and distribution businesses, Saint-Gobain is stepping up initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of transport, from raw materials to finished goods. In 2012, Saint-Gobain Building Distribution France launched Evoluvert, a responsible transportation initiative. Transport offices have been set up to optimize delivery routes, order grouping, modal shift with river transport, double-decker trucks, natural gas vehicles, electric carts, etc. There are many levers for action. In five years, the approach has helped saved 25,000 tons of CO₂. The next steps? Continuing to pool deliveries to outlets from transport bases, implementing measurement tools to reduce energy consumption, controlling fuel consumption through eco-driving and monitoring fuel waste, switching the entire fleet of trucks to natural biogas... With one goal: 60,000 tons of CO₂ avoided by 2024.
Another recent example is the "Transport Control Tower" project in Latin America, implemented jointly by several of the Group's industrial businesses, that seeks to optimize logistics flows by capitalizing on synergies between businesses, with the key to reducing costs and improving performance, to the benefit of the environment!
89% of our non-trading purchases are covered by the signing of our Responsible Purchasing charter.
An illustration of our approach to raising awareness amongst our suppliers of CSR issues, particularly in the environmental sector.
Enhancing the formulation of our products
One of key catalysts for the reduction of our CO₂ emissions is to change the composition of our materials by substituting carbon-intensive raw materials for those with a low-carbon footprint. An example of this approach can be found at Weber: intended for laying tiles and stones, webercol flex éco adhesive mortar is therefore made up of new raw materials repurposed from industrial byproducts, in order to reduce the use of natural resources and CO₂ emissions.
Weber has made available a specific FDES (Environmental and Health Declaration) in order to measure the reduction of its environmental impact. Compared to an adhesive mortar of the same performance class, the production of webercol flex éco enables a reduction of: 50% of CO₂ emissions; 28% of water consumption; and 27% of the use of non-renewable energy.
Several exclusive technologies based on the reduction of primary raw materials have been developed by Weber’s R&D teams since 2012, meaning that over 300,000 tons of CO₂ have already been avoided. And the search for innovative and ever more environmentally-friendly solutions continues!
We communicate the impacts and benefits of our products over their entire life cycles. We have made available in 30 countries more than 1,200 third-party verified environmental data sheets.
Training our teams around the challenges of climate change
Our roadmap towards carbon neutrality must involve and mobilize each of our teams. To do this, climate-related issues and the challenges that await us tomorrow must be perceived and understood by everyone, regardless of their role in the company. That is why we created a digital training module, “Climate 2050”, which leverages gaming to showcase the impact of our individual and collective decisions and the different possible choices in everyday situations.
The learner’s mission is to run their (fictional) business as well as possible until 2050, making sure that it remains in a good financial state with motivated employees, all the while acting in a climate-responsible way in a complex environment. At the end of this training, our employees better understand the various issues relative to climate change and perceive how they can help Saint-Gobain achieve carbon neutrality by making informed choices in their everyday professional lives.