Sustainability at GF

Being an internationally active industrial Corporation, GF touches a variety of stakeholder groups along its entire value chain. Therefore, sustainability management at GF involves two aspects – where the organization can have a direct influence, and where GF’s impact is indirect. The latter relates to the product lifecycles and their use by our customers. The former refers to an inward view of GF’s own conduct and activities as well as partially to its supply chain.

Herein, compliance with social and environmental standards and respect towards people and planet are the cornerstones of GF’s business approach. The five values of GF form the foundation for GF’s business conduct and Corporate strategy. The values are translated into a set of standards for ethics and integrity, which define GF’s culture and are summarized in the Corporation’s Code of Conduct.

In GF’s core business, sustainability efforts are directly linked to the Corporation’s understanding of its purpose – to add value to and improve the quality of lives through all of our business endeavors. The products and solutions of GF accompany the daily activities of people all over the world – from when they are drinking tap water, taking escalators, driving to work, to them going to a dentist’s or working on a laptop. In all of these situations, it is highly likely that GF’s products were involved in the process of bringing that experience to the end consumer. GF aims to ensure that the components or full-system solutions that are designed and produced, address the megatrends facing today’s society and provide best added value from both quality and sustainability angles for our customers.

Focused on safety and efficiency

With its products and solutions, GF Piping Systems ensures high water quality along the entire water management cycle and addresses the need for safety, reliability, efficiency and hygiene in the distribution of this valuable resource. As an example of one of the many solutions of GF Piping Systems, COOL-FIT 4.0, a pre-insulated piping system made of plastic and using an innovating joining technology, enables customers to use energy more efficiently. This is guaranteed by a 100% maintenance-free and easy-to-install system, with 30% higher energy efficiency compared to market alternatives. In addition, installations take about half of the time.

COOL-FIT 4.0 enables reliable and safe cooling for industrial and commercial systems with 30% higher energy efficiency.

Innovative materials and bionic design enable GF Casting Solutions to create extremely lightweight components. Therefore, the division addresses the pressing issues facing the automotive and aerospace sectors on how to substantially reduce the CO2 emissions of vehicles and jet engines of aircraft. In addition to emission reductions, less weight means a greater range, which is an important aspect for both industries, particularly for the transition towards e-mobility. Reducing material wherever possible, adjusting shapes, integrating functions, and combining the flexibility of iron casting with steel inserts and magnesium casts allows for a more than 20% weight reduction of GF components as compared to those made using traditional methods.

By using the magnesium die casting process, the weight of components, like this cross car beam, can be significantly reduced.

EDM, laser, milling and other machines of GF Machining Solutions offer energy-saving solutions for the production of molds and finished parts used by a broad range of industries. A concrete example of the application of GF’s laser machines can be found in the texturing of mold surfaces. Here, the standard practice is to use an acid-etching process requiring chemicals, which are associated with environmental and risk hazards. Applying a direct laser texturing technology allows this potential damage to be reduced, while also increasing consistency in production and minimizing waste of materials.

Medical parts, such as implants, are some of the many applications of the modern laser technology of GF Machining Solutions. The technology combines high-precision texturing with an increase in energy efficiency of up to 25%.

In line with Strategy 2020

For broader impact through the lifetime of its products, GF continuously engages with customers to understand their needs and requirements. GF strives to meet and exceed the expectations that customers set towards their suppliers with regard to social and environmental performance. Additionally, GF works on continuously optimizing its own logistics processes in order to increase efficiencies and be more environmentally friendly.

GF supports international efforts for transparency on and advancement of sustainability topics:

CDP reporting on Climate Change and Water

UNGC membership – signatory and a participant

Concrete sustainability-relevant measures that the Corporation and its three divisions are working on are based on the set of Sustainability Targets 2020 defined in 2015. These targets are closely linked with the Strategy 2020 of GF and the respective activities contribute to the key strategic thrusts of the Corporation. GF is now slightly past the halfway mark. So far the Corporation could advance and observe progress on a number of sustainability topics. However, it is a gradual process, and it is necessary to ensure that systematic measures continue to be applied to meet the set ambition levels.

In 2018, the focus was placed on further streamlining the internal processes on environmental and social Key Performance Indicator reporting as well as on increased collaboration between the various internal functions and the dedicated sustainability specialists to further anchor the topic into daily activities of GF. Safety at work remained highest priority, with continuous measures implemented across the locations. A range of activities was implemented to increase the energy efficiency of production facilities, and concept development was initiated on a framework to ensure sustainability in GF’s supply chain. Continuing an annual tradition, GF conducted a regional sustainability conference in 2018, bringing together for the first time the GF environmental and Health & Safety specialists from the European locations. The objectives of the event were to foster knowledge exchange among locations and to increase momentum on goals set within the Sustainability Targets 2020 in the areas of energy efficiency, waste management and workplace safety.

Anchored in the social environment

In accordance with its fundamental values, GF supports and promotes cultural and social programs at its various locations, as well as activities that contribute to the common good. In 2018, around CHF 2 million were spent corporation-wide on social involvement activities. In addition to this, several GF companies supported local activities by making substantial contributions. The biggest contributions in 2018 went to the Corporation-owned foundations Klostergut Paradies, Iron Library and Clean Water.

GF is a member of various Swiss and international business associations with annual membership fees in the amount of less than CHF 0.1 million. In the year under review, no contributions were made to political parties or to individual politicians.

Klostergut Paradies: A property for 100 years

GF has owned Klostergut Paradies in Schlatt (Switzerland) since 1918. Today, this historical building serves as a seminar and training center for the Corporation. GF celebrated this centenary with a festive ceremony for guests from politics, business and society. At the same time, a photo exhibition was opened in the heritage-protected monastery, recalling “100 years of GF in the Klostergut Paradies”. A new book with historical photos from the Corporate Archives and the history of the Corporation also proved to be very popular. The Iron Library is situated in a wing of the monastery. This corporation-owned foundation has the largest private collection of books on the subject of iron and industrialization. Together with the Corporate Archives, it is the center of competence for maintaining the Corporation’s historical and cultural heritage.

A sustainably better access to clean drinking water

Through its Clean Water Foundation GF has supported a total of 145 drinking water projects worldwide since 2002. To date, GF has invested more than CHF 10 million and has improved the lives of more than 300’000 people with sustainably better access to clean drinking water. Another sustainable initiative was launched in order to mark “100 years of vocational training at GF”. In this context, 16 GF apprentices were given the opportunity to spend a week visiting development projects in Bolivia and playing an active part in assisting in them. This unforgettable travel experience for the young people was arranged jointly by the Clean Water Foundation and Caritas Switzerland, the foundation’s biggest partner, and financed by GF.

In summer 2018, 16 GF apprentices spent a week in Bolivia, where they visited several development projects.

For highlights of specific actions that took place during 2018 and status achievement tracking towards the Sustainability Targets 2020, please refer to the Sustainability Report 2018. It will be published on the GF website in April 2019.