LEONHARD KURZ, one of the world’s leading companies in thin-film and finishing technology, has released its 2021 sustainability report. The Communication on Progress (COP) report for the first time provides information on developments in the implementation of the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. These include promoting environmental awareness, developing and disseminating environmentally friendly technologies, and respecting international human rights. KURZ joined the UN Global Compact Network last year, thus reaching another important milestone in its sustainability activities.
In addition, the Group was able to consolidate its position as an industry pioneer in sustainable finishing. CEO Walter Kurz explains: ‘As a family business, it is important to us that we leave a better world for future generations. Since our company was founded more than 120 years ago, our ideas and actions have been future-driven as well as sustainable. Joining the UN Global Compact initiative was therefore the next logical step for us.’ With its annual “Communication on Progress” report, the UN Global Compact pursues, among other things, the objectives of promoting transparency, demonstrating the continuous improvement of business activities, and disseminating good-practice examples.
Be a green leader
KURZ’s more than 100-page progress report presents the company’s sustainability performance to-date in detail, and also discusses its goals and planned measures. All activities are driven by the motto “Be a green leader”, which not only reflects the standard KURZ has set for itself but also the company’s offering to its customers. Walter Kurz: ‘We want to become the most sustainable company in our industry and help shape product cycles along the entire value chain as environmentally friendly as possible to make our customers leaders in sustainability.’
The thin-film specialist is well on its way, as evidenced by the current COP. For example, there are central guidelines and environmental directives on matters such as raw material selection and handling, which have been issued by corporate management and are valid worldwide. In order to ensure compliance with these standards and to ensure continuous improvement, extensive environmental management systems have been set up and an environmental officer appointed. The environmental, energy and occupational safety mission statement applies to all employees.
KURZ pursues a “360° Lifecycle Thinking” approach throughout all areas of the company, taking into account the entire product life cycle – from the manufacture of the components to their return to the recycling cycle at the end of their useful life. Care is taken that all raw materials are used efficiently, and PET carrier materials with recycled ingredients are used within the scope of the technical possibilities. While around 30 percent of the raw materials used in KURZ decorations is currently of organic origin, the company is working to increase this share to up to 80 percent.
Innovation driven by environmental protection
With the RECOSYS® take-back and recycling program, KURZ has only recently set a benchmark in environmental compatibility. This gives customers the opportunity to return any residual materials to KURZ, which are then processed into new raw materials in the company’s own recycling centre. Another environmental innovation is RECOPOUND®, a high-quality recycled granulate made from production waste. RECOPOUND® not only impresses with its diverse application possibilities and robust character, but also with its excellent ecological footprint. By using the recycled material, up to 40 percent CO2 can be saved compared to new material. The declared aim for the future is to reuse the recycled PET carrier for the production of new transfer carriers.
Striving for climate neutrality
The corporate carbon footprint is another pillar in KURZ’s sustainability strategy. On the path to climate neutrality, the focus is currently on determining Scope 1 to 3 emissions, on the basis of which the next climate goals will then be defined and pursued. In this context, the agenda includes increasing energy efficiency and reducing direct emissions, promoting the use of green energy, and the company’s own generation of energy.
Here, too, the thin-film expert has already achieved initial success in COP: KURZ obtains its entire electricity demand in Germany from renewable sources, partly through purchased green electricity and partly through its own photovoltaic systems. The company’s environmental management system is certified according to ISO 14001, the energy management system according to ISO 50001, and the occupational health and safety management system according to ISO 45001.
A family-owned company with a strong sense of responsibility
Being a family business, KURZ has always cared greatly about the well-being and personal development of each employee, as well as the compatibility of professional and personal life. The company provides support in the areas of eldercare and childcare, and promotes professional and part-time training as well as corporate health management.
The KURZ Code of Business Conduct regulates ethical standards when dealing with employees, customers, suppliers, government agencies and authorities. Board member Walter Kurz: ‘A company’s good reputation is based not only on the quality of its products and its economic success, it is also significantly influenced by the company’s attitude towards people.’
Outlook and objectives
LEONHARD KURZ has already set itself targets for the coming reporting period:
At the Sulzbach-Rosenberg site, an open-area photovoltaic system will soon be put into operation to increase the share of CO2-neutral energy supply with a savings potential of 6000 to/a, which can cover 20 to 25 percent of the site’s electricity requirements. In the company’s own vehicle fleet, more emphasis is already being placed on e-mobility and hybrid technology, and the lighting is being switched to LED.
The company also pushes the reduction of specific energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions. Walter Kurz concludes: ‘Our mission has always been – and will continue to be – to use our innovative spirit to develop products and processes that combine maximum individuality and sustainability.’