Wind power - powered by Freudenberg

High flying

Wind energy
Dichtring

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions

Small step, big effect

Levitas

Nonwovens made from recycled polyester

Second life as roof membranes

Recycling
Sunbathing Gekko on leaf

Sustainability at Freudenberg

As a values-based, family-owned technology group, our corporate goal is not merely financial success but always involves responsibility for society. The two goals have been inextricably linked since the company’s founding.

Success stories

  • A sealing ring developed by Freudenberg reduces carbon dioxide emissions by around 0.8 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer: Small step, big effect
  • With its high-performance components and materials, Freudenberg is playing its part in the triumphant progress of wind power: High flying 
  • Freudenberg recycles millions of PET bottles a day in its European facilities. The recycled polyester is used to make nonwoven material to seal roofs: Second life as roof membranes 

 

"Sustainability shapes Freudenberg's business activities." (Dr. Mohsen Sohi, Freudenberg Group CEO)

Efficiency through Footprint and Handprint

How can we design our processes and run our sites to save resources?

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?

Interview

With its "footprint and handprint model", Freudenberg pursues a far-reaching approach to sustainability that has an impact right down to its customers’ processes. What lies behind this? And what is the potential for success? Dr. Tilman Krauch, Member of the Board of Management, provides the answers.

Dr. Krauch, how important is sustainability for Freudenberg?

Very important! Sustainability is closely linked to the Freudenberg Group’s values and principles. One value of our family-owned technology company founded in 1849 is responsibility. We demonstrate responsibility through our commitment to health, safety and environmental protection, corporate citizenship, compliance, human rights and labor standards – as well as sustainability. Our understanding of success runs along the same lines. Not only is financial success on the market important for us, but success also means fulfilling our responsibility to society by committing to sustainability. 

In its business, Freudenberg stands for efficiency and customer benefit – is this in keeping with sustainability?

Yes. For one, we are improving our processes. Freudenberg explores all options to conserve resources and become more efficient. This is how we minimize our company’s so-called footprint. On the other hand, Freudenberg uses efficiency to promote sustainability on the part of its customers. We are talking here about our handprint, which we want to maximize.

Dr. Krauch, how important is sustainability for Freudenberg?

Very important! Sustainability is closely linked to the Freudenberg Group’s values and principles. One value of our family-owned technology company founded in 1849 is responsibility. We demonstrate responsibility through our commitment to health, safety and environmental protection, corporate citizenship, compliance, human rights and labor standards – as well as sustainability. Our understanding of success runs along the same lines. Not only is financial success on the market important for us, but success also means fulfilling our responsibility to society by committing to sustainability. 

In its business, Freudenberg stands for efficiency and customer benefit – is this in keeping with sustainability?

Yes. For one, we are improving our processes. Freudenberg explores all options to conserve resources and become more efficient. This is how we minimize our company’s so-called footprint. On the other hand, Freudenberg uses efficiency to promote sustainability on the part of its customers. We are talking here about our handprint, which we want to maximize.

How do you maximize the handprint?

By developing products and solutions that allow our customers to operate their businesses and processes more sustainably. We also keep an eye on global challenges and societal megatrends, to allow us to meet the market’s long-term requirements at an early stage. Our innovations are always the key here. We use them to develop concrete technological benefits for our customers.

Technology roadmaps are the pillars of innovation at Freudenberg – such maps chart the steps to innovation. The Odyssey project, for example, puts forward a clear vision of the day after tomorrow: What will be required in the future from a societal and major megatrend perspective, such as population growth, urbanization and scarcity of resources? How can we respond with our technological expertise, if we think in terms of the next two or three decades? With Odyssey, we assumed that by 2050 up to 80 percent less fossil fuels will be available. From this scenario, we derived specific growth fields where sustainability plays a crucial role. This allows us to define new areas that are not yet part of our portfolio.

Are there specific projects that you classify as lighthouse projects? What makes them different?

Energy, emissions and materials, but also water and waste are very important for our portfolio. These topics naturally have a different significance for each Business Group - so that heterogeneous lighthouse projects emerge.

A wide range of lighthouse projects exist because Freudenberg serves many different markets. The Levitas seal is a handprint example of our Business Groups’ broad commitment to reducing our customers’ emissions. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies launched this seal in 2017. Compared to conventional transmission seals, Levitas decreases friction torque by up to 70 percent. CO2 emissions are therefore reduced. In an automatic transmission, this product innovation can save 0.8 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

 

So sustainable innovations drive Freudenberg's growth?

Absolutely. Sustainability is key to our future growth because the customer gets a genuine benefit. Sustainability is really about the customer. If we can generate and develop customer benefits as part of our innovation process portfolio, then we create and develop new growth opportunities for ourselves at the same time.

Are you satisfied with your own processes?

We do our homework and focus hard on our footprint, which we want to minimize. We achieve this by reducing waste and designing our processes to lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions. These are precisely our three key performance indicators. Since 2009, for example, we have reduced our energy consumption by a third from 0.37 to 0.24 kilowatt hours per euro of sales. We have thus significantly improved our energy efficiency through various measures, such as the introduction of new energy management systems.

What are the advantages of this mixed model for you?

We take a holistic approach. The mixed model of footprint and handprint offers many opportunities for success, at every stage of the value chain: Starting with the materials used, through production and transport, to the application of our products and their disposal. Innovative products and solutions allow Freudenberg and our customers to reduce costs or generate additional benefits. They can also help meet the more restrictive requirements for environmental and consumer protection.

Satellite picture of a coastal region
Sunbathing Gekko on leaf
Sheets of polar ice

Freudenberg is a global company. How do you experience interest in sustainable solutions in the world's markets?

Obviously, there are different topics and the extent to which they are implemented varies.  No matter which continent, however, efficiency is the bottom line - and that is exactly what we specialize in. It is irrelevant how far a society is along the path to sustainability, or which topic is a priority. Our solutions are on hand at the right time. Freudenberg’s approach to efficiency is the foundation. We can tailor our products and applications to the specific requirements of the respective market. This is how we support our customers.

How does all this turn into a systematic procedure?

The key to this is our innovative strength. Our quest for sustainability drives us to develop innovative products and technologies in different ways. At the same time, innovations make more sustainable processes and products possible. Our corporate slogan “Innovating Together” reflects exactly how sustainability helps us progress: as a values-based technology group, we move forward using our innovative strength - and together with our customers.

Thank you for the interview, Dr. Krauch.