Sustainability at the Elsdorf site
We agree with the sustainability approach defined by Gro Harlem Brundtland: “Making development sustainable means that the present generation meets its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Our understanding of sustainability in this sense embraces social, ecological and economic dimensions.
The social dimension is concerned with creating living and working conditions based on fairness, equal rights, equal opportunities and promotion of education, health and social balance.
We promote professional training and view practical training as the best way to find new recruits for our business. For this reason we strive to offer our trainees a permanent position once they have successfully completed the qualifying examination. We also encourage advanced training and, as part of the annual appraisal interviews, we provide each employee with an assessment of their individual development along with jointly defined training measures. This also includes systematic career development for management personnel based on a co-financing policy supported by the company (e.g. master school).
Our employees are regularly examined by an external company doctor as part of our preventive health care programme. We have expanded this initiative to include free preventive measures (e.g. back therapy training, flu vaccination) and regular health awareness days. After prolonged authorised absence due to illness, our integration management team helps employees return to work and avoid a recurrence of the illness by eradicating any work-related causes.
The ecological dimension aims to achieve an environmentally friendly and resource-conserving concept of production and distribution processes. We avoid unnecessary transportation, starting with the collection of raw milk for our dairy plant. Our products are not made with milk of foreign origin or from unknown sources, and all our milk comes from within about a 100-km radius of our Elsdorf site.
We cooperate closely with our affiliated dairy farmers who are all personally known to us and receive regular visits and support from our milk inspection association. Our dairy farmers are involved in the quality management system for Lower Saxony (QM-Milch) which entails a regular review of national standards in milk production, animal husbandry and farm maintenance. The general professionalisation and scale of our milk producers ensure we demand a high quality standard for our raw material with regard to animal protection and wellbeing. In line with EU criteria for the financial support of agricultural enterprises our dairy farmers are required to take adequate measures to promote species diversity, biodiversity and landscape protection.
We also work very closely with our suppliers of other raw ingredients. The selection and review of our raw material suppliers adheres strictly to our guiding principle of sustainability, and we demand that our suppliers incorporate our basic principles into their daily work. We use reduced-thickness and environmentally-compatible materials for our packaging.
The economic dimension includes operating efficiently to improve productivity and cost structure. In recent years we have consistently optimised the use of energy media and improved the energy efficiency of plant equipment and machinery. For example, a package of measures has enabled us to reduce our CO² emissions by around 3,650 tonnes per year. As a result of this, we were awarded first prize in the German Energy Agency’s “Energy Efficiency Awards” in 2011. The Federal Ministry for the Environment honoured us with the third German Refrigeration Award for the concept of power-heat cogeneration implemented during construction of our new logistics centre, in conjunction with a cogeneration plant, which resulted in a further reduction of 4,700 tonnes in CO² emissions per year. The particularly high energy efficiency of this concept also resulted in the award of the German Energy Agency’s quality seal “Good Practice in Energy Efficiency”.
We also aim to avoid, reduce or recycle waste as much as possible by employing effective waste management processes. We introduced systematic consumption monitoring to show the deviation between desired and actual consumption values for all raw materials and finished products. Non-organic waste is sorted by material type (e.g. plastic film, plastic, cardboard/paper, etc.) and, once it has been properly sorted, it is recycled.
We also focussing our attention on reducing the amount of fresh water and waste water involved in our processes. We continuously monitor factors including pH values and chemical oxygen demand in order to keep water consumption and waste water pollution to a minimum. We intend to reduce waste water pollution even further by reducing product losses and rinsing cycles.
The points listed here are specigic examples intended to highlight the areas in which our company sets priorities. In Addition to the examples already given, other measures are also being considered as part of our sustainability principles, and in future there are bound to be even more areas of activity as we strive to create more sustainable production processes.