Harmonising economy and ecology is both a corporate responsibility and challenge. What contribution can a decentrally organised group like Bechtle make to climate protection and saving of resources?
A company’s long-term success does not just depend on how well it is performing economically. It also lies in a carefully balanced use of natural resources. As a company that’s well aware of its responsibilities, Bechtle puts a premium on the environment. That’s why we always strive to optimise our business processes to conserve resources, cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases, and do our part to protect the climate and the world we inhabit.
In 2011, Bechtle AG first introduced a certified environmental management system (EMS) that enables a structured approach to all our environmental activities. Some 1,700 people working at Bechtle’s headquarters, Bechtle Platz 1, make up the largest site of the group by some margin. This is the home of many of the group’s core units that support all of its branches—also in their environmental endeavours—which in turn are run by each subsidiary’s Managing Director.
Today, there are four Bechtle companies that can boast the DIN EN ISO 14001 EMS certification: In addition to Bechtle AG with sites in Neckarsulm and Gaildorf, these are PP 2000 Business Integration AG in Stuttgart and Kornwestheim (since 2015), Bechtle direct B.V. in Eindhoven and Breukelen (since 2016), and Bechtle direct Public Sector with offices at the group headquarters in Neckarsulm (since 2017).
They are all committed to Bechtle’s environmental agenda of conserving resources, avoiding emissions, and minimising waste.
WASTE AND PACKAGING.
Bechtle sites are pretty much all office space. Only a few of them maintain their own, small-scale warehouses. Consequently, the biggest portion of the Bechtle Group’s refuse is made up of common municipal, paper and electrical waste, and used toner cartridges. The central warehouse at our Neckarsulm HQ is a different matter. As the Bechtle Group’s logistics hub, it bears the ecological brunt of the flow of commodities with its huge amount of packaging waste. The site’s sheer size and importance for the group as a whole is why Neckarsulm has its very own disposal concept in place, which has been reviewed and revised every year since 2011 by a joint board of the site’s facility management and Bechtle’s environmental officer.
Granular reporting by our waste management service provider gives us a clear view of how each material group is developing. Each container is weighed and recorded, along with the rates of incorrect sorting, giving us a good indication of how well we’re doing on the ground. All employees at Bechtle HQ undergo essential environmental management training once a year to raise awareness of the issue and provide practical advice on environmentally sound disposal. For new employees, this is also part of their orientation programme.
PRIMARILY, THE BECHTE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME PURSUES SEVEN INDIVIDUAL GOALS:
From 2011 to 2018, we implemented 91 identified measures in these areas and in 86 cases met our set goals. The status of the declared targets is documented in the so-called environment cockpit and is reported on in an annual audit.
CONSERVE, AVOID, RECYCLE.
Without committed employees, no company can significantly improve their environmental performance. That's why we raise awareness of the economic and environmental consequence of resource consumption, and provide out employees with ample information on the subject on our ILEARN platform. Part of our environmental policy is to use recyclable materials and to use them conservatively, as well as to avoid or reduce waste production as much as possible. Wherever possible, we also choose environmentally friendly products over standard-market products.
With respect to water management, we are always considering different possibilities to control our consumption of life's essential resource in an economical and environmentally friendly way. We consistently sort and recycle reusable materials.
Large publications are printed exclusively on FSC-certified paper from sustainable forestry. In the reposting year 2018, we discontinued the print version of the Bechtle inside employee magazine, switching to a purely digital publication. Bechtle's Annual Report is printed using climate-neutral materials and processes. And, since 2018, the print edition of our customer magazine, Bechtle update, has been printed using Advanced PSO Bio colours composed of up to 80 per cent renewable resources.
Ceramic multi-use cups have long since been a common sight at Bechtle HQ, saving us over 52,000 paper cups every year.
But we don’t simply want to minimise waste on our own doorstep. We also strive to keep it out of our deliveries. Optimising consignments at our logistics hub is a critical lever when it comes to reducing packaging material and shipping volumes. For example, one cardboard box size has been eliminated entirely through the use of bubble mailers for small part orders. Our very own, reusable Bechtle Box delivery option reduces the need for cardboard, paper, plastic wrapper, and wood, as does our habit of consolidating orders that ship to the same address.
We see room and need for improvement in the areas of energy consumption and logistics. These are the areas where we will be able to make the most effective improvements in our environmental performance by introducing appropriate measures.
In 2018, Bechtle Remarketing GmbH was able to overhaul and remarket some 80,000 devices, including wiping data from 35,000 devices in accordance with the strictest security standards.
In the reporting year, a project team from Bechtle Logistik & Service GmbH checked the definition and labelling of a sustainable product portfolio based on various aspects such as energy consumption, manufacture, and use. The result of this was to add the TCO Certified and Energy Star certifications to the monitors and notebooks in our product range available online.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE.
In order to both raise awareness of green topics among customers and make a difference to the environment, Bechtle and ARP launched a project with HP in collaboration with PRIMAKLIMA e.V. Since autumn 2018, for every order of HP supplies over 200 euros, a tree is planted in the west Ore Mountains in Saxony on a 3,600 square meters area that used to be used for grazing. These reforestation projects use types of trees and shrubs native to Germany, thus providing a new habitat for many species of birds and insects. The project will continue to run in 2019.
Moreover, Bechtle also took part in another, similar initiative organised by 3M which ran until 31 December 2018. For every privacy filter purchased, 3M planted eight trees in Mexico with the foundation Plant for the Planet.
MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY.
In IT, there are certain limitations on how much power you can realistically save, so we have been speeding up the switch to renewable energy for nearly a decade. In 2018, we generated no less than 895,564 kWh of our own power in Neckarsulm, bringing the total share of renewable energy used at the site over the year to 14.9 per cent (previous year: 616,475 kWh, 10 per cent).
For Bechtle, one important means of conserving resources is extending the lifecycle of information technology. At our Neckarsulm headquarters, we accumulate a staggering 2.5 tonnes of “obsolete” IT components every month, including mice, desktops, servers, and smartphones. These are picked up by our partner, HPE Financial Services, and transported to its Technology Renewal Centres in Scotland and the USA. There, the company ensures that all remaining data on the hardware is completely wiped, never to be seen again, before reselling over 80 per cent of the old equipment. The rest is either recycled or disposed of in an environmentally sound way.
Bechtle Remarketing GmbH takes care of our customers’ retired devices, destroying data and refurbishing hardware, before eventually reselling it and recycling any components that have reached their definite end of life.
In addition to our policies and outlook in the Bechtle Sustainability Report 2019 we set a specific target. Together with our partners, customers, and manufacturers, we strive to contribute the best we can to conserve and protect the environment.
This includes generating more renewable power across Bechtle locations—right now we’re using the construction of a new building at our headquarters to up our home-grown juice—, as well as measures to further slash emissions, such as increasing the share of electric and hybrid vehicles in our fleet from the current four per cent to a projected ten per cent by 2023. Plus, we aim to increase the use of business bikes by ten per cent before the end of 2020.
Also by the end of the year, we want to knock five per cent off general waste generated at HQ, the same figure we’ve put down for the reduction of renewable packaging waste—and that’s despite an expected increase in outgoing parcels and pallets of ten per cent. We aim to achieve this by using 5% more renewable materials and less non-renewable materials. The results will be published in the Bechtle Sustainability Report 2020.
Dr. Nicole Diehlmann
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Published on Mar 20, 2019. Update on May 11, 2020.