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Passing on to our future generations

 

1. INTRODUCTORY PART

Making housework easier and delivering superior services to our customers have been our highest priorities since the launch of the very first Vileda product in 1948: the Vileda Window Cloth. The products our grandmothers used in the past are now used by their grandchildren, but their needs have changed and so have our products: for example our cloth range has been continuously upgraded in terms of performance and durability, allowing now up to 300 wash cycles for our microfiber cloths. Our “Vileda Supermop”, which first captured the market in 1973, modified cleaning habits in a lot of countries, and has been improved many times to satisfy changing consumer needs. This cross-generational way of thinking is the basis of our long-term oriented business, and an important part of this is our approach to sustainability.

Sustainability means for us bringing ecological, social and economic values to life every day and we are committed to do business whilst respecting the principles of sustainability. We know we will never be perfect, and we are fully aware that sustainability is an ongoing every day challenge and learning process which has to be continuously implemented and lived in all parts of the company. We do need the support of our suppliers and our organisation to become better. Our long-term commitment and responsibility towards people and the environ­ment is laid down in the Guiding Principles set out by our parent company Freudenberg.

 

2. PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE PART

Considering the life cycle of Vileda products, it becomes evident how important the individual phases are in helping us to reduce the impact of our processes on the three areas of sustainability, namely environment, society and economy.

Sustainable product development holds a special position in the life cycle: products are evaluated on holistic grounds and regarded by means of a specific sustainability scorecard system. We pay attention to the sourcing of our raw materials, how our products are manufactured, distributed, used and disposed of.

As to the sourcing of our raw materials, we respect the regulations of “REACH” (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). Moreover, Vileda uses its best endeavours to avoid the use of or contamination with hazardous substances such as DEHP plasticizer, heavy metals in pigments, dangerous azo dyestuffs and others, even when these are legally acceptable. In addition, we follow an “Ethical Sourcing Programme” implementing “Ethical Supplier Standards” amongst others. The “Ethical Supplier Standards” specify the expectations towards suppliers e.g. in terms of child labour, minimum wages, forced labour, health, safety and environmental protection. We run a supplier self-assessment concerning these standards with our material suppliers and contract service operations, covering more than 94% of the value of our total purchased materials.

In addition, we have identified “focus sites” which are FHP plants, our suppliers, warehouses, distribution centers and contract operations where we do on-site audits with ethical sourcing criteria being incorporated and physically viewed and reviewed. By doing this, we cover more than 85% of our purchase value.

Our production plants are certified in accordance with the standards ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

In 2010, the specific energy consumption of the 3 main FHCS production sites (Germany, Sweden and Italy), covering 86 % of FHCS´s production energy consumption, was reduced by 5 % related to 2009 and by 23 % related to 2005.

FHCS´s production site in Sweden has achieved the newly established and very strict EN 16001 certification for energy management.

Also, a decrease of 4% in waste generation vs. turnover was achieved for FHCS’s 3 main production sites. These are located in Italy, Sweden and Germany and are responsible for 67% of FHCS’s waste generation in 2010.

In our biggest FHCS site in Germany, a recycling quota of 93% (= re-usage of production waste) has been achieved in 2010.

Approximately 1800 tons of recycled fibers, 1400 tons of recycled plastic materials and another 3000 tons of recycled steel have been used in 2010 as starting materials for various products, amongst them the Vileda Naturals product range.

FHCS´s newest manufacturing site in the USA has been built with sustainability considered from the ground up, with energy efficient heating and AC, natural light throughout the building, all aiming towards a LEED certification for the entire site (LEED: Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, a rating system by the U.S. Green Building Council). The energy consumption is therefore reduced by > 25 %.

For landscaping, only native drought-resistant plants were used to minimize the need of watering.

In Germany, the new FHCS Headquarter building, inaugurated in 2009, has been awarded with the German Quality Seal for Sustainable Building (Deutsches Gütesiegel Nachhaltiges Bauen).

Regarding the distribution of Vileda products, we pay attention to efficient load fill and deliveries by using vehicle design and technology to maximize carrying capacity within current regulatory limitation. We continuously improve our transport modes in terms of friendlier miles by switching freight from road to rail or water.

Additionally, the German Fraunhofer Institute and Vileda accomplished an extensive study on European-wide logistics in 2008, with the result that FHP’s warehousing and distribution network in Europe is already very close to minimum transportation distances and cost.

In terms of products-in-use, Vileda products are known for their long-term durability, washability, performance and convenience. The durability of Vileda products helps to avoid unnecessary waste and also to preserve resources. The specific composition of the fibre mix in our cleaning cloths, for example, allows a rapid removal of different dirt types including particles. Good cleaning properties reduce the need to use detergents as has been proven by several independent cleaning studies across Europe. Our products cope with ergonomic requirements to protect the user’s back and joints, resulting in various “red dot design awards” and “iF Product Design Awards”.

All packaging will be designed to be totally recyclable and we maximise the use of recycled material in place of virgin material where appropriate (e.g. cardboard or corrugated packaging is made out of 60 – 99%  recycled paper waste). All Vileda packaging films are complying with Vileda´s “packaging material white list” and are almost exclusively made up of PP or PE, being either recyclable or energetically re-usable. Our products are not over packaged: only the necessary minimum required packaging material will be used. We develop a holistic approach that considers packaging performance and environmental impact across the supply chain. And we take new, innovative packaging materials into account (e.g. out of renewable resources) as well as processes that help to reduce the impact on the environment.

 

3. PRODUCT PERFORMANCE PART

Along the life-cycle, Vileda products are continuously improved in regard to the three values (ecological, social and economic) of sustainability, and the following products demonstrate this effect.   

The proprietary production process of the Vileda Microfibre cloth-material “Evolon” saves water: no chemicals are involved during production as mechanical bonding and splitting into microfibres is achieved via hydro-entanglement technology. This technology, being honoured with the “Eco-Trophée du Parc Naturel Régional des Ballons des Vosges”, reduces water waste as water is pumped in a closed circulation system. In addition, “Evolon” is certified according to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class 1 (strictest requirements: textiles and textile toys for babies and small children).

Microfibre products like Vileda microfibre cloths or the Vileda Supermop allow the user to easily remove stubborn and fatty dirt without or nearly without using detergents.

Vileda has built up in 2006 its own bristle production in Italy where bristles for Vileda brooms are produced out of recycled polyester (r-PET) directly from used plastic bottles. These r-PET bristles are used for Vileda’s international brooms range and deliver, besides ecological advantages, a clear additional performance benefit for the consumer: longer durability and better stability against bending compared to conventional bristle materials. Vileda as a branded manufacturer does not produce the commonly used PVC bristles and controls bristle production back to the PET bottle flakes. The DuActiva broom with its combination of bristles and dense foam blade carefully removes loose dirt and dust without stirring it up. Therefore it has been awarded with the ECARF-certificate (European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation at the Berlin Charité Clinics), the quality seal for allergy-reducing products and services.

Vileda and Wettex Sponge Cloths are composed of cotton fibres and cellulose sponge material making them fully biodegradable as has been proven by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Uppsala. The production process minimizes waste and water consumption by reusing process additives.

The Finnish Standards Association has awarded the “Nordic Swan Eco-Label” to selected Vileda Professional Swep mops and QuickStar micro cloths as also to Vileda consumer products, e.g. the WindowCleaner and the TeaTowel. The mops fulfil requirements in the area of environment, health and quality. For example, mops are tested to pass a minimum of 300 launderings, the cleaning efficiency is measured and all raw materials are checked on strict compliance regarding composition.

As a consequence of the strong environmental orientation, Vileda has launched an eco-focussed product range “Naturals” to complete the durable cloth and floor cleaning assortment. With this product range, Vileda enhances its strong attributes such as innovation, quality and durability by adding a true ecological concept. The material mix comprises elements from natural origin, from renewable or recycled resources like corn starch-derived fibres or organic cotton. For the latter, our suppliers comply with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard): the aim of the standard is to define requirements to ensure organic status of textiles. Vileda Professional launched the product range “Selected for Sustainable Cleaning” at the Interclean fair 2010 in Amsterdam. Similarities of selected products are extremely long-term durability, excellent performance with less effort and less usage of chemicals, no hazardous substances used and also efficient packaging.

 

4. FREUDENBERG

The overall approach towards sustainability goes even further: our parent company Freudenberg, an over 160 year-old German family company, has always paid high attention to ecological, social and economic values, which are specifically contained in the company’s Mission statement.  

Freudenberg as a materials specialist has a long history in intelligent conversion of a wide range of raw materials into advanced products. High attention is paid to the utilisation of recycled materials and to the re-usage of waste.

In the key area of corporate citizenship Freudenberg had set up various voluntary social and welfare services since 1889. The Freudenberg Foundation was established in 1984. Its aim is to support the integration and promotion of disadvantaged groups and encourage cultural projects.

When the Freudenberg Group launched its company-wide youth program TANNER in 1999, the company was well aware that a successful stay abroad is a positive factor for a young person’s future personal and professional development.

In 1999 the Guiding Principles are set up as a summary of the Groups Business Principles for all employees around the world, business partners and the public at large. The key aspects are “Value for Customers”, “Innovation”, “Leadership”, “People”, “Responsibility” and “Long Term Orientation”.

The internal initiative “We all take care" established in 2003 encourages every associate to contribute ideas and suggestions in terms of improving safety at work and environmental protection for our people and our neighbours. The strategic target of occupational safety at Freudenberg and Vileda is to come below 1 Lost Day Accident per 1.000 employees by 2016. In order to achieve this underneath the umbrella of “We-all-take-care”, a specific “Zero Accident Program” has been launched throughout the entire company. In 2010 both, Freudenberg and FHCS, reached an interim milestone, i.e. 4 Lost Day Accident per 1.000 employees, already.

Being at the forefront of environmental-friendly technology is part of the “genetic code” of Freudenberg. The group has an increasingly extensive portfolio of environmentally-friendly products and production methods around the world. For example the nonwovens facility in Suzhou, China, has already been recognised several times by the Chinese government as a “green factory”.

Freudenberg is committed to be a responsible corporate citizen at all our locations around the world. Our associates are highly involved in numerous social projects.

For example, Freudenberg started a donation for NOK-Colleagues in Japan who had been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Employees donated collectively a sum of 219.000 Euro which was doubled by Freudenberg to help 620 most badly affected colleagues.

Here are two more examples of social projects in India and China: In March 2009, Freudenberg inaugurated a job training centre in Nagapattinam in the South Indian province of Tamil Nadu, the region worst affected by the devastating Tsunami in 2004. In 2010, the first young people finished their training and successfully started into their first jobs and another 80 new young people started the special dual-training to qualify themselves for e.g. jobs as metal worker, welder or plumber.

End of August 2009, Freudenberg officially opened the Hajing Village primary school in Jiangyou, China. This region is one of the most hard-hit towns in Sichuan by the catastrophic earthquake of May 12 2008. As a gesture of help and solidarity for the affected people there, the family-owned company launched this long-term aid project. It is one of Freudenberg’s biggest projects of its kind outside Germany. The school building has a total area of more than 4600 square meters and could accommodate some 280 children. A big success was the summer-school project in 2010, where more than 40 Freudenberg employees gave lessons voluntarily in e.g. English language, Chinese culture and sports.

On a local basis, Freudenberg supports social work, amongst others, with the “Wir-tun-was” initiative. For example, a children’s clothing bank in Viernheim is sponsored with storage boxes, clothes racks and also financial donations. Families with low income have a possibility there to get second hand clothes for their kids for a symbolic amount of money.

 

5. SUMMARY PART - Vileda key messages towards sustainability

Vileda´s roots can be traced back to the history of Freudenberg and its long-term oriented company philosophy. Ever since its first appearance in 1948 the brand Vileda stands for innovative household products of highest quality. We focus strongly on durable and convenient products, developed and produced by using safe materials and state-of–the-art technology. We intend to continue our sustainability approach, namely to live ecological, social and economic values day-to-day, to meet the expectations of present and future generations.