Responsibility

As a family-owned, values-based technology group, success for Freudenberg is financial success as well as fulfilling the company’s responsibility for society. The two goals have been inextricably linked since the company’s founding.

At Freudenberg, responsibility for society covers five areas: Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environmental Protection (HSE), Corporate Citizenship, Compliance and Human Rights & Labor. All 5 areas are firmly anchored in Freudenberg’s Values and Principles and closely linked to one another.

Facts and Figures

Key figure

2020

2021

Energy  
Energy consumption2.3 million MWh2.6 million MWh
Energy efficiency     0,25 kWh/€ sales0,26 kWh/€ sales
Energy cost159 million €266 million €
Energy cost / sales1.8%2.7%
   
CO2 emissions87,1 tons/million € sales82,5 tons/million € sales
   
Waste12,9 tons/million € sales13,3 tons/million € sales
   
Health and Safety  
Total number of accidents with at least
one day of work lost
148132
LDI-FR1.51.3
   
Occupational health & safety,  environment protection
and sustainability
17.6 million €35.7 million €
   
HSE management system  
Plants with ISO 1400183%83%
Plants with OHSAS/ISO 4500171%71%
   
Sales, equity ratio and number of employees  
Sales8,840.8 million €10,038.7 million €
Equity ratio48.0%50.2%
Number of employees47,77749,836

Sustainability

We strive for solutions that improve living conditions around the world and support sustainable developments for the environment and society. Product and process sustainability have always been part of responsibility practiced at Freudenberg. Sustainability has two dimensions for us.
 

  • Footprint: How can we design our processes and run our sites to save resources?
  • Handprint: Which products and solutions can we develop so that our customers can produce more efficiently and sustainably or have their end products use fewer resources?

Sustainability at Freudenberg

Sustainability at Freudenberg

Health, Safety and Environmental Protection

The primary objective of our HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) principles is the prevention of all accidents, preventive health care, and the continuous reduction in the negative impact of business activities on the environment.

All the information on the most important events of 2021, as well as insights into our occupational safety, health and environmental protection measures can be found in this year's digital progress report.

Management systems

The roll-out of management systems for occupational health and safety (OHSAS 18001 and conversion to ISO 45001) and environmental protection (ISO 14001) continued in the year under review.

Many facilities are introducing energy management systems in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001 or EN 16246 to reduce energy consumption and thus the impact of their industrial activities on the environment. The Business Groups Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, Freudenberg Performance Materials, Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, EagleBurgmann and Vibracoustic have established management systems for this purpose at many of their German production sites. Other production sites run by EagleBurgmann in Austria, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions in Sweden, and Freudenberg Performance Materials in France have followed their example.

Environmental Protection

Freudenberg feels obligated to protect the environment and takes responsibility to ensure that its actions are as environmentally friendly as possible. The goal is to continually reduce the company’s negative impact along the entire value chain, by using resources more efficiently, reducing emissions, saving energy, water and other materials while optimizing transportation processes.

A project at Klüber Lubrication, a Freudenberg company, is one example of the Group’s activities in this area. A multidisciplinary team was able to identify an alternative cleaning agent after comprehensive tests in labs and in manufacturing processes. It is less damaging to the climate than other options by a factor of 170 and even cleans more efficiently. In the medium-term, emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of up to 30,000 tons of CO2 per year. And customers will be avoiding additional emissions equivalent to about 60,000 tons of CO2 per year as soon as the solvent is replaced as a raw material starting in 2022.

Corporate citizenship

Corporate citizenship at Freudenberg extends beyond the value chain. Our goal is to be a good corporate citizen and good neighbor in all the countries, states and communities we call home. Thus, many companies, locations and employees are socially engaged and support a broad spectrum of projects - from small initiatives on site up to complex international programs.

  • Whether they are dealing with the corona pandemic, providing clean water or donating to help flood victims, our employees are committed to the well-being of others – even in their free time. Read more about the social projects that Freudenberg undertook last year.

  • Chinese school boy

    In the aftermath of a severe earthquake, the Chinese village of Haijin was destroyed. Freudenberg helped rebuild the school and it re-opened for some 300 schoolchildren. Contact remains close: Every year, Freudenberg employees visit the school and organize various activities.

  • Whether they are dealing with the corona pandemic, providing clean water or donating to help flood victims, our employees are committed to the well-being of others – even in their free time. Read more about the social projects that Freudenberg undertook last year.

  • Trainees at work

    Integration of refugees: A Freudenberg Group-wide initiative helps cope with one of the largest challenges we now face. A special focus on supporting refugee children and youths by providing language skills training and educational opportunities.

Compliance

As early as 1887, founder Carl Johann Freudenberg drafted his first business principles to help his sons take over the business. The document is the basis for Freudenberg’s 10 Business Principles for partners and employees. One principle stipulates success must come from performance. Freudenberg shall not be involved in illegal or unethical business practices.
More information about the topic

Business Principles and Guiding Principles

Freudenberg’s Business Principles were used to create Guiding Principles, which apply to all interactions with employees, business partners, stakeholders and third parties. 


Business Principles
Guiding Principles

Compliance structure

The Business Groups at Freudenberg have general autonomy when making business decisions. The Business Groups are generally responsible for compliance with laws and regulations. At the holding level, and thus the duty of the Freudenberg Compliance Management Council, the focus is on the most important compliance issues relevant to the Group and those with international implications and which may especially pose a threat to Freudenberg’s reputation.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct is derived from the Business Principles and Guiding Principles, with a close focus on Responsibility. The Code of Conduct is the same everywhere around the world and is designed to ensure that respect for the law and proper conduct remain a cornerstone of how Freudenberg conducts business.


Code of Conduct

Ethics Offices

The Ethics Offices are an important part of Freudenberg’s Compliance Management System. The offices are a contact for any employees who – for whatever reason – feel they cannot turn to their superiors, HR team or their union representatives. The opportunity to confidentially and proactively report compliance violations or impending violations in a confidential environment helps create a culture of trust and protects Freudenberg’s internal values and principles.

 

Risk management and Corporate Audit

Anti-corruption measures and evaluation of their effectiveness also remained a component of risk management and the work of the Corporate Audit team. The goal of the department is to uncover corrupt deals, evaluate the effectiveness of counter measures and improve as needed.

Internal audits examine compliance with the standards. Employees receive anti-corruption training in classroom sessions and e-learning programs. The Compliance Council, Corporate Audit and the Ethics Office work together to assess any incidents that may arise.

Human Rights & Labor

Guiding Principle People

As a family company, we are devoted to our employees’ well-being and personal development. We reject all forms of discrimination and harassment and show understanding and respect in our dealings with each other. We promote a multi-cultural environment where employees work together in worldwide teams to enrich our culture and capability. We believe in the value of enduring relationships with customers, suppliers and industrial partners.

Leadership Principles

The Freudenberg Group upholds a social commitment to all its employees. In this regard, it is impossible to define a uniform standard. The way this commitment is applied depends rather on the laws, practices, needs and opportunities in each respective country. Discrimination and exploitation of vulnerable people is explicitly prohibited anywhere in the Group.

Guiding Principle Responsibility

Our company and its family shareholders together are committed to protecting the environment and being responsible corporate citizens in all countries and communities in which we do business. We take all possible care to ensure the safety of the workplace and of our products. As a family company, we strive for the highest standards of personal behavior. Fairness and integrity guide our conduct amongst ourselves, towards our business partners and the general public.

Global Compact

As far as Freudenberg is concerned, basic values and business interests are no contradiction. Not even when it comes to sustainability. Our commitment to climate protection makes entrepreneurial sense. It demonstrates responsibility toward others and the environment. So it goes without saying that we support the United Nations Global Compact. The Freudenberg Group signed the Global Compact in January 2014. It is a voluntary agreement with about 19,000 signatories, including more than 12,000 companies from more than 160 countries. The Compact calls on companies to operate their businesses sustainably while adhering to basic values.
Read more in our digital progress report.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Responsible, proactive actions have a long tradition here. They are among the basic values that the company has lived by over its 172-year history. By signing the United Nations Global Compact, we support the 10 basic principles on human rights, work standards, anticorruption measures, and environmental protection, to which the United Nations agreed in 1987. And we are committed to the 17 sustainability development goals that were announced in 2016 shortly after the Paris climate conference. Since 2019, Freudenberg has prioritized eight of the 17 goals to which it can make a significant contribution.

Would you like to learn more about the goals that Freudenberg is focusing on and the contribution we are making in our work each day? Find out more in our digital progress report.

„We all take care“

Since its launch in 2002, the Freudenberg internal initiative “We all take care” has honored employees worldwide for their commitment to safer, healthier and environmentally friendlier workplaces or their involvement in social projects. Many of the 205 submissions revolve around climate protection and sustainability. In all, 14 projects from all over Freudenberg world reached the finals.

Find out more about our top three projects from last year here.