What does Freudenberg mean by Sustainability?

As part of the Sustainability Project, we have developed a Group-wide definition for Freudenberg: We strive to minimize our Footprint and maximize the Handprint for our customers and end-users. That means we are minimizing the environmental impact from the company's manufacturing processes (Footprint) and maximizing our impact as a Sustainability enabler at our customers (Handprint) by providing sustainable products and services. Find out more about our understanding of Sustainability and read about current examples​ from the Freudenberg world.

What do you mean when talking about Footprint and Handprint?

​The first is how the company itself adapts its processes, obtains and allocates resources, equips its plants and aligns its process technologies with new needs to make production as resource-friendly as possible. We call this minimizing the Footprint. The second dimension relates to the numerous products and services Freudenberg delivers to customers to enable them to improve efficiency and Sustainability or the eco-balance of their own products and to achieve their own Sustainability goals. This is where Freudenberg contributes to a positive Handprint.​

Since when has Sustainability played a role for Freudenberg?

Sustainability is nothing new to Freudenberg but has been part of our corporate values for years. Our Values and Principles have always embraced the Group's responsibility for society. Sustainability is one way in which we demonstrate this responsibility – and have been doing so for over 165 years.

What role does Innovation play in Sustainability?

Together with our customers, our partners and the world of science, we develop leading-edge products, solutions and services and contribute to improving the living conditions of people worldwide. The constant quest for increased Sustainability is a key driver for Innovation. At the same time, Innovation results in more sustainable processes and products. The one drives the other. Innovation can contribute to Sustainability by having a direct positive impact on our Footprint and Handprint. Fundamentally, the more we innovate, the more sustainable our processes and products become. The more sustainable our products, the larger the Handprint will be for our customers and the end-users of Freudenberg products.​

Who is the contact and person responsible for sustainability within the company?

At Group level, Dr. Tilman Krauch, Chief Technology Officer of the Freudenberg Group is responsible for sustainability and acts as a Strategic Guide together with the Corporate Sustainability Team focusing on the strategic framework for Group-wide measures, which are coordinated with the responsible parties in the Business Groups.

At the Business Groups, a member of their management boards is responsible for sustainability. Rollout coordinators are responsible for steering the activities.

Does Freudenberg draft a public sustainability report?

Once a year, Freudenberg publishes an Annual Report with a “Responsibility for Society” chapter. The chapter covers Freudenberg’s activities in the five areas of Sustainability, HSE, Corporate Citizenship, Compliance and Human Rights & Labor and, at the same time, serves as a progress report on the implementation of the UN Global Compact.

Freudenberg also has an extensive internal reporting infrastructure covering topics such as energy and emissions, as well as health and occupational safety. Excerpts can be found on this website and in the Annual Report for the Freudenberg Group.

What about safety at Freudenberg?

All employees on all levels and in all units are responsible for safety at work. They are supported in their efforts by the HSE organisations of the locations and Business Groups, as well as the Corporate Functions of the parent company Freudenberg & Co. More than 80 % of Freudenberg’s production locations have a safety at work management system (OHSAS 18001). In addition to topics such as machine safety, safe materials, personal protective equipment for employees and safety for contractors, Freudenberg focuses on a safety culture and safe behaviour by all employees.

What about environmental protection?

More than 80 percent of Freudenberg's production locations have an environmental management system (ISO 14001 or EMAS*). In addition, Freudenberg uses a variety of audits and performance indicators to continually reduce the environmental impact of the Group's activities. Freudenberg wants to systematically reduce the harmful emissions it generates, especially CO2 emissions, wherever this is technically and commercially possible, making a contribution to the protection of the environment. You can find more information about this topic in the HSE Guidline.

*Eco-Management and Audit Scheme

What about occupational health?

On the basis of our HSE organisation, we ensure a responsible approach to health protection at all our facilities. Depending on the type and size of the plant, measures range from the provision of first aid assistance and organisations to company ambulances. In line with its approach to safety, Freudenberg focuses on prevention in the field of occupational health. In addition, therapeutic and rehabilitation measures are taken when appropriate.

What about fire prevention and crisis management?

Crisis management is incorporated into the Business Group’s and operational units’ crisis and risk management systems. Included is the necessity to raise awareness for fire prevention and to avoid operational disruption and supply shortages.

How does Freudenberg shape its dealings with external stakeholders?

In our Guiding Principles, we explain the principle of "Value for customers" and present our general position on our relationship with external stakeholders. Our view of responsibility for society is also described in our Responsibility​ principle.

What is the position of the Group on international standards and principles such as those in the Universal Human Rights?

We do not tolerate illegal or unethical conduct and take active measures to avoid it. We encourage our business partners, (sub)-contractors and suppliers to act in accordance with the responsibility principle.*

We will not manufacture any products intended for harming people (e.g. weapons).**

The existing International Labor Organisation (ILO) agreement forms a guideline for the Freudenberg Group. This includes, in particular, the following agreements with regard to the prevention / decrees of

  • Equal opportunity and non-discrimination at work, in accordance with ILO conventions 100 and 111;
  • Freedom of association, protection of the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining in accordance with ILO conventions 87 and 98.
  • Forced labor in accordance with the ILO conventions definition, 29 and 105.
  • Child labor and minimum age in accordance with the ILO convention definition, 138 and 182. The right of Freudenberg Group employees to join a trade union, to choose employee representation and representation of common interests in collective bargaining is recognized. ILO convention 131 forms the basis of this: Freedom of association, collective bargaining and industrial relations.

*(Values & Principles)
**(Business Principles)​

How does Freudenberg ensure that its activities comply with legal requirements?

We strive to exceed the requirements of applicable laws and regulations: that is, to work and behave in such a manner that compliance with the minimum standards required by applicable law is never in doubt. Strict compliance with laws is essential and does not allow any scope for discretion.

The Code of Conduct, valid for all employees of the Freudenberg Group worldwide, reflects the benefit statement (“Freudenberg is a values-based technology group that best serves its customers and society”) and is based on the Group’s Guiding Principles and Business Principles. The Code of Conduct contains clear guidelines with regard to law-abiding and responsible behavior conduct. So that all employees are able to read and understand the Code of Conduct, it has been translated into 25 languages.

How can employees report an infringement of the Group’s Guiding Principles?

Any benefit secured from an infringement of the Group’s Guiding Principles, or conduct that runs contrary to the Guiding Principles is not desired. Freudenberg SE has established Ethics Offices in all regions. Employees can report infringements by sending an e-mail to: