CSR in the automotive industry covers many issues that arise at the stage of production, use and disposal.
In recent years, automotive suppliers have been adopting a product life cycle approach, paying attention to CSR issues at all stages of their supply chain.
From an environmental point of view, the key issue is the reduction of the carbon footprint and the relatively long service life of the industry's products. The very use of a car has the greatest impact on the environment. This clearly shows that improvements are worth making, especially during the design phase (e.g. using light materials, improving fuel efficiency, inventing new energy sources).
One of the effective CSR initiatives is, for example, the implementation of management in line with the idea of a green supply chain (GSCM), which refers to the integration of environmental aspects into the entire value chain.
Therefore, being aware of the potential of sustainable business (e.g. the possibility of increasing economic, social and environmental results) many companies from the automotive sector try to implement CSR programs to integrate environmental and social aspects not only into their supply chain but also into the business strategy and directly into the organizational culture of the company.
See how we do it at Knauf Group!
What is CSR Strategy?
The Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy is a comprehensive plan that modern companies use to design, implement and analyze their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
All CSR activities have an impact on the financial performance of companies, brand reputation, cost savings and customer loyalty, but most of all, they aim to have a positive impact on the local community, sustainable supply chains and climate change. Therefore, managing directors develop a strategic CSR plan and are required to educate employees and other stakeholders about initiatives for sustainable development and social and environmental benefits.
See how our managing directors and project teams develop a strategic CSR plan and engage and educate employees, customers and other stakeholders on initiatives for sustainable development, social and environmental benefits.
Why CSR strategy is so important for Knauf Industries?
Knauf Industries designs and manufactures packaging solutions and technical parts based on polymers, creating value for our industrial customers, our employees, and our stakeholders generally.
For an industrial company operating in several countries, taking a CSR initiative is no longer an option - in strategic planning and successful business performance, it is necessary to reconcile short-term and long-term perspectives.
Being aware of all the changes in the world that can affect our activities opens up our horizons, promotes discussion, and improves our company values and practices. We want to remain flexible and we work with our stakeholders so that our plastics expertise can develop, to better adapt to their expectations and those of the market.
As Kurt Münder, CEO of Knauf Industries said:
“We express our social responsibility in our company strategy, culture, everyday operations, and in our area of influence”.
The company overview is presented in the infographic below.
What are the challenges facing corporate social responsibility strategies nowadays?
After undertaking a CSR diagnosis, we applied the principles of the United Nations Global Compact to carry our initiative through into the long term.
In 2020, despite the context of the Covid-19 pandemic which was a big challenge of corporate social responsibility for lots of industries, we did not review our CSR plans and budgets. We continued to structure our CSR approach, define our priority issues, and involve our teams and stakeholders. But this is still just the beginning of our CSR efforts. We want to anchor this strategy to give life to new ideas, to innovate, and to continue to create shared value together in our territories.
The corporate social responsibility issues and challenges that we took into account were:
- Integrating CSR strategy into our activities and businesses
- Guaranteeing health, safety and well-being at work
- Recovering materials at the end of their life
- Protecting the health and safety of consumers and local communities
- Reducing our consumption and emissions
Let’s read how our responsibility applies to our teams, our markets, our territories, and our environment, all at the same time.
What is our approach to 5 priority strategic CSR areas?
Corporate social responsibility is traditionally broken into four pillars: environmental, philanthropic, ethical, and economic responsibility.
We chose to focus our efforts on five new social issues deemed to be the most relevant and highest priority by our teams and our stakeholders. These issues correspond to five-year targets that have been set and monitoring indicators that allow us to measure our progress.
A structured CSR approach has allowed us to determine the most relevant issues in society, i.e. those that have a significant impact on the activities of Knauf Industries and its ability to create value for itself and its stakeholders. The identification of our social challenges is based on our strategic commitments, the challenges in our business sector, and the main CSR benchmarks.
CSR Communication strategy to bring CSR approach into a daily basis
One of Knauf Industries’ strategic priorities is to encourage the involvement of all employees in the CSR initiative. What do we do to achieve this?
- Creating social initiatives like Internal Visibility Program which included:
- Training around 30 volunteers from different departments who were taught about CSR and participated in creating a roadmap of the company's purposes and CSR programs to plan actions according to their skills and motivation.
- “Mission CSR” newsletters which are published regularly, in English and French, to publicize the responsible actions in progress and to encourage all the teams to become involved.
Signing the United Nations Global Compact
Since 2019, Knauf Industries has been committed, via the United Nations Global Compact, to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals to transform the world, collected in the 2030 Agenda.
- Performing a CSR diagnosis
Guided by an external expert, we performed the CSR diagnosis of Knauf Industries based on the main benchmarks in force. The recommendations were used as the basis for drawing up a CSR roadmap for key performance indicators of our CSR programs in 2021-2025.
“We will continue our efforts so that every Knauf Industries employee everywhere takes this CSR approach on board and brings it to life every day through concrete actions.”
Gilles Istin, Sales, Marketing and innovation director, Knauf Industries
CSR Strategy in our manufacturing solutions
The development of behaviors and new environmental challenges have led to several major innovations in our manufacturing process.
Knauf Industries specialises in packaging, protection, insulation solutions and technical components. This naturally leads us to pay attention to implementing a comprehensive strategy to ensure economic responsibility for our partner organizations.
One of our existing initiatives, the “Reinvent + Reduce + Reuse + Recycle Strategy” which we have chosen in consultation with our internal and external stakeholders allows us to operate throughout the life cycle of our products, culminating in the recovery of materials at the end of their life.
Parts made of 100% recycled EPS
- THE MORE LABEL - Since 2019, the MORE Label (MOnitoring Recyclates for Europe) attests the volumes of recycled raw materials that go into our products every year.
- ECO-DESIGN is an innovative approach characterised by the integration of environmental criteria from the product design phase in order to reduce its impacts throughout its life cycle and maintain the quality of use and performance level of the product. (ADEME)
- THE "SOLAR IMPULSE EFFICIENT SOLUTION" LABEL - In 2020, our reusable Komebac® transportation boxes made of 25% recycled EPP became one of the 1000 solutions selected by the Solar Impulse Foundation, based on criteria of feasibility, low environmental impact, and profitability.
As a manufacturer of:
- EPP and EPS Car Components
- Automotive Injection Molded Parts
- Returnable Transport Packaging and Dunnage
- Baby car seats
- Expanded foam components for automotive battery packs
- Shock absorbers for hydrogen storage tanks
we have established criteria to define what we consider to be an innovative solution. These criteria are based on four goals: Meeting the needs of our stakeholders (desirability), providing an innovative solution (feasibility), creating value (viability), and reducing risks (ethics).
Our French-based experts work with their counterparts and contacts in different countries in an agile and connected way in the following fields of challenges facing corporate social responsibility: research on raw materials and innovation, integration of new technologies, traceability, eco-design, creation, prototyping, tests and numerical simulation.
Environmental responsibility in Automotive Sector
According to the nature of each product, we choose the most appropriate materials and technologies and are involved in recycling - processing waste and producing recycled resources.
Material collected via Knauf Circular©
Investments related to collection and recycling
In partnership with our customers and suppliers, Knauf Industries developed NEOPS®, a foam material obtained from biomass (green waste), which is REDcert²-certified. NEOPS® is available in various grades (thermal performance, fire resistance, shock absorption characteristics, and food contact). At end of life, NEOPS® products will be sorted and recycled via the existing EPS processes.
- Materials: PE, PP, PS, EPS, EPP, PET
- Alternative materials obtained from recycling or biomass: NEOPS®, CELOOPS®, R’KAP®
- Technologies: foam moulding, cutting, injection moulding, extrusion, and thermoforming.
Using CSR to improve Customer Satisfaction - health, safety and high-quality production
At Knauf Industries our strategic purchases (of raw materials, for example) are centralized.
The central buyers, located in France, Poland, and Brazil, are aware of competition law, and two of them are “Mission CSR” ambassadors. In each country, the sites are responsible for groups of additional purchases, in compliance with the principles of business ethics. To be clear with our suppliers, to make them aware of our expectations and to build mutual trust, we have implemented a “Responsible Purchasing Charter” covering environmental, social, and ethical issues.
CSR Supplier Relations
Our suppliers are also obliged to observe a Code of Conduct. We carry out regular qualification audits, we respect payment deadlines, and we favor suppliers located in Europe for our European sites, for example.
What is more, early in 2020, Knauf Industries launched a consultation with its internal and external stakeholders. To enrich its thought process and offer stakeholders the opportunity to make their expectations, inspirations, and proposals for the future, a questionnaire was posted online, and interviews were conducted. These allowed everyone to get to know each other better and build trust, share expertise, consider synergies, identify weak signals, define the most relevant CSR issues, and build a solid action plan. The external stakeholders and employee feedback, which is very important for every CSR project, enable us to implement better sustainability initiatives and make additional value for our clients.
STAKEHOLDERS are the people or groups of people who can affect, or be affected by, the activities of an organisation. (ISO 26000)
Main suppliers who have signed the Responsible Purchasing Charter
Central buyers with business ethics awareness
CSR Customer Relations
In all markets and everywhere in the world, the customer relationship is based on a conversation with our sales team.
It starts with attentive listening, understanding expressed and potential needs, taking regulatory and legal requirements into account. Very soon, all the departments in the company become involved, to provide the relevant information throughout the customer’s journey. Because Knauf Industries is the specialist partner for custom products and solutions, co-development is often key in this collaboration.
One of the major social challenges at Knauf Industries, as a socially responsible company, is to protect the health and safety of consumers. We work to protect the health and safety of the final consumers and users of our products. We eco-design our products, working closely with our customers, and give clear user instructions to guarantee the end-users that we have taken every possible precaution to protect their health and safety.
Since 2016, at the request of its customers, Knauf Industries joined the EcoVadis extra-financial evaluation platform intending to become a preferred supplier by improving its CSR practices. In 2020, our efforts paid off, since our score increased by 30%. With a score of 51 points, Knauf Industries thus reached the top 25% of companies in its business sector. In 2021 we further improved our score, reaching 60 points and acquiring a silver medal.
Quality Certifications (ISO 9001, IATF 16949)
78,6% of sites
Food hygiene and safety certifications (ISO 22000 or BRCGS Packaging)
75% of sitesdedicated to agri-food
Compliance with the regulations concerning chemicals
- REACH Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals
- RoHS Reduction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment
- CLP Classification, labelling, and packaging of substances and mixtures
CSR Strategy in human resources and ethics
To respond to future market demand, attract high-quality candidates, and promote employee loyalty, Knauf Industries first identified its biggest societal challenges and then structured its strategies in France.
The Knauf Industries health and safety policy concerns all company activities and all persons present on all sites. All QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety and Environment) managers refer to it. The unique risk evaluation document (URED) is drawn up in consultation with the teams; it incorporates a risk evaluation and a procedure for the prevention of psycho-social risks.
Below, we describe some of the CSR activities which we develop in this sector.
Healthy and comfortable workplace
Ergonomics experts recommend improvements in workplaces. Awareness and prevention workshops are regularly organized by ithe management.
Ethical responsibility & Work-life balance with trust to our employees
What’s more, we offer teleworking options to employees whose physical presence on site is not always essential. Their ability to work independently and the principles of responsibility and trust that lie at the core of the company’s values are highly prized. In parallel, everyone was reminded of the right to disconnect, to prevent digital work tools from becoming too invasive in the personal lives of employees.
Business ethics training and fair business practices
Knauf Industries attaches great importance to compliance with the Group's anti-corruption guideline, the correct application of the provisions that prohibit anti-competitive practices, applicable environmental laws and regulations, data protection and retention, and the directive on trade sanctions. It is very important to establish clear formal rules and ethical business practices on these matters that are known to all employees and corporate governance.
That’s why KnaufGroup, as a socially responsible company, has adopted a code of conduct that reflects the particular commitment to values such as ethics, loyalty and integrity in relations with its stakeholders and is applied to all Group employees.
We are also proud of our compliance with competition law regulations. Our employees are made aware and trained on anti-competitive practices and regulatory changes. Knauf Industries ensures compliance with fair business practices, in particular concerning competition and price transparency.
Knauf Industries’ environmental policy is based on our main strategy and concerns all of our production sites worldwide.
- ISO 14001
Compliance of our management system with the environmental regulatory requirements in each country.
- REDcert2 and ISCC PLUS
Compliance of our management system and our products obtained from biomass with the requirements related to renewable energy sources and the circular economy.
- ICPE classification
Compliance of our French factories with the requirements of the French environmental code.
Continuous Improvement of management and industrial systems
Achieving industrial excellence consists of monitoring our impacts and improving our performance whilst remaining compliant with the quality, health, safety, environmental, and food hygiene and safety standards, as well as the legal and regulatory requirements of the countries where we operate.
That is why every Knauf Industries site creates an annual improvement plan, which also focuses on the teams, customer satisfaction, quality, and costs. Not only CSR leaders but all the participants are the drivers of the continuous improvement processes, supported by the QHSE Managers. Regular management reviews help to ensure that our management system remains relevant, adequate, and efficient.
The continuous improvement process consists of regular efforts to improve products, services, internal processes and CSR initiatives. Knauf Industries relies on a benchmark common to all divisions of the Knauf Group. It describes the behaviors that are required for the continuous improvement framework to succeed.
Reducing consumption and emissions as a CSR & business strategy
One of the major social challenges at Knauf Industries is to reduce consumption and emissions on the production sites.
The collection and consolidation of data already take place on the French sites and will be gradually deployed worldwide to make competitive advantage in social and environmental challenges. The reduction of material in both weight and volume is one of our eco-design rules. Waste is shredded to the desired particle size and then reintroduced into our production stream.
From 2012 to 2019, we reduced our electricity consumption by 15% on all our sites in France. This improvement was possible thanks to many actions including modification of our facilities, the purchase of more energy-efficient equipment (compressors, refrigeration units, motors), as well as the renewal of our computer hardware, reducing the number of printers, and printing less.
Knauf Industries has made also made other successful CSR initiatives like a voluntary commitment to Operation Clean Sweep, whose aim is to prevent plastic particles from being lost in the environment or contaminating the aquatic environment. This action is deployed on all twenty Knauf Industries French sites, where they have been fully integrated into the organization; especially into their “5S” approach.
The industrial facilities, tools and methods have been adapted to contain the plastic pellets and polystyrene beads within the boundaries of the production sites. In parallel, employees and external partners have been trained and given responsibility for the prevention, cleaning, and elimination of losses during processing and transportation operations.
Methodology of CSR Report in Knauf Industries
This annual corporate responsibility report aims to start a dialogue with all of our stakeholders about our value-creation strategy incorporating our social responsibility – More than just words: actions.
The Executive Committee, the Steering Committee, and the 31 Ambassadors of Knauf Industries actively participated in the strategic analysis and drafting of the CSR approach described in this Report. They were supported by external experts from Stepping Stones and Atelier Christelle Paris, who ensured observance of the CSR and reporting laws and the principles of responsible communication.
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