A resource-conserving economy is taking shape

The conservation and sparing use of natural resources can add up to a good deal. Many Swiss companies have already integrated the green economy into their business model. Through their products and services they also help their customers to reduce their own resource consumption. The following examples demonstrate the wide-ranging nature of the green economy. Many other companies exist which are equally committed to the responsible treatment of nature.

Climate-friendly eating:

SV Group
The strategies adopted by the SV Group to encourage climate-friendly eating include the promotion of vegetarian dishes.
© SV Group

The SV Group (German and French) is a leading force in Swiss canteen catering. It cooks and serves 100,000 fresh meals in over 300 staff restaurants and canteens every day. The SV Group deliberately targets sustainability in its activities. It does not serve asparagus and strawberries out of season. Nor does it use produce that has to be flown in because its CO2 emissions are up to ten times higher than those of native asparagus and strawberries when they are in season. In 2013, together with the WWF and other partners, the SV Group developed and launched the ONE TWO WE climate protection programme. Based on this programme a total of 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved from 2016 compared with 2012 levels. The programme focuses specifically on improving vegetarian meals and promotes the use of seasonal vegetables from greenhouses which are heated using either heat pumps or district heating systems. One factor is crucial to the SV Group in all of its activities: climate-friendly food should be enjoyable and should not be experienced as any kind of sacrifice or imposition. Thus the SV cooks, whose restaurants and canteens are participating in ONE TWO WE, are sent to Rolf Hiltl’s vegetarian cooking academy in Zurich for training. The conclusion reached after two years of ONE TWO WE: vegetarian food has never tasted as good as it does today! Over 100 staff restaurants and canteens in Switzerland are currently participating in the ONE TWO WE programme.

Clean soil for Swiss gardens:

Soil production at Ricoter.
© Ricoter

Soil is the valuable basis of agriculture and horticulture. High quality soils, from peat lands for example, are traditionally used for improving the soil in gardens and for balcony and house plants. However, peat extraction is harmful to the environment. Entire mire landscapes, which form both valuable habitats and important CO2 sinks, are often destroyed in the process. Thus peat extraction has been banned in Switzerland since 1987. The Swiss company Ricoter succeeded in dispensing entirely with the use of peat for the production of its RICOTER (German only) brand compost for the first time in 2014. Instead of peat, it uses materials that arise as a by-product of agriculture and forestry for its various compost products. These include the soil washed off sugar beet during processing – Ricoter is a subsidiary of the sugar company Schweizer Zucker AG. This material is mixed with waste from sawmills, among other things. This enables the significant reduction of the CO2 emissions associated with the soil products throughout their lifecycle and of their biodiversity footprint. Ricoter produces around 200,000 cubic metres of compost annually.

Energy-efficient construction for man and the environment:

Trainees from Ernst Schweizer AG. The company focuses on sustainable production and products.
© Ernst Schweizer AG

Ernst Schweizer AG, a metal works located in Hedingen in the canton of Zurich is an independent family company with a 95-year track record in successful market development. The company’s four business areas of façades, wood/metal systems, windows and post boxes and solar energy systems provide aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient solutions for building envelopes and products for the harnessing of solar energy. The majority of Schweizer’s products fulfil the Minergy standard (German, French, Italian). The building envelope has, of course, a major impact on a building’s energy consumption. Moreover, Ernst Schweizer AG is a pioneer in the field of sustainable corporate governance and has been recording comparable sustainability data since 1978. These data show that, despite doubling its sales and workforce between 1978 and 2013 and expanding to include new locations, buildings and production halls, Schweizer recorded only a slight increase in energy consumption of 12 percent. Moreover, it succeeded in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 61 percent and increasing the proportion of its heating energy and electricity generated from renewables by 63 percent. Thus it is possible to decouple energy consumption from a company’s sales and production volume. Achieving this requires a defined corporate structure and culture at management, organisational and operational levels. Moreover, the implementation of the objectives defined in the adopted model must be fully integrated into the everyday rhythms and activities of employees.

Recycling building materials:

BAZO Oberglatt Eberhard Unternehmungen
Plant for the pre-treatment of polluted excavation, dismantling and industrial waste for recycling or disposal.
© Eberhard Unternehmungen

The Eberhard Unternehmungen group of companies (German only) has specialised in civil engineering, the rehabilitation of contaminated sites and construction materials and their recycling for over 60 years. Eberhard Recycling AG built Europe’s first washing system for soil as far back as 1993 and the company had already started to process building rubble on building sites prior to this. Eberhard supplies recycled concrete and recycled gravel mixes. The company is one of the pioneers in urban mining, that is the recovery of valuable raw materials from existing buildings. This also includes the recovery of metals from waste incineration plant slag in its own treatment plant. Eberhard Unternehmungen uses a lot of energy. It voluntarily compensates for its total fuel-related CO2 emissions through a project involving the recycling of cooling appliances in Brazil. The system is operated by the Swiss foundation Fair Recycling.

Reliable water pipes:

Rohrsysteme GF Piping Systems
Pipes with a long service life for drinking-water supply and industrial systems.
© Theodor Stalder, GF Piping Systems Ltd.

A stable supply of clean drinking water requires very long-lasting piping systems. The Swiss company Georg Fischer provides such systems. The long-standing company, which is based in Schaffhausen, produces pipes and connecting pieces from plastic. Compared with many metal pipes, these have the advantage of being corrosion free and abrasion resistant; they also have a consistently smooth internal surface. If used correctly, they can last up to 100 years. Georg Fischer pipes can be securely connected and are easy to install. Their applications cover all aspects of the water cycle. The GF Piping Systems division has customers in 100 countries. With sales of CHF 1476, it is now the company’s largest division.

Last modification 07.07.2016

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