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How do we minimize our environmental footprint? How do we ensure a safe and healthy working environment? And how do we ensure compliance with our ethical principles?
Sustainability has many facets. For the Dussmann Group, sustainable action means reconciling economic, social and environmental goals, because as different as these goals are, they are closely linked in our business model. “Sustainable corporate manage-ment is not an additional or a secondary activity, it is our way of doing core business”, says head of QHSE, Daniel Krebel.
Our sustainability policy is built on our values of integrity, environmental awareness, passion, social responsibility and fairness. Together with our corporate strategy “Dussmann next level”, they shape our sustainability policy. The materiality matrix shows which sustainability issues are relevant – from a corporate and from a stake-holder perspective. At the beginning of 2021, we conducted a stakeholder survey and we reviewed and refined the matrix.
From an economic perspective, the topics of service/product quality and of service/product innovation are of particular importance to us as a service provider. Both have a signif-icant impact on client satisfaction. They affect value retention, for example of buildings, and integrity, for example in the care of seniors and children.
Our business success also depends on compliance with legislation, regulations, standards and other requirements such as measures to prevent corruption and a high proportion of self-delivery.
The primary social topics include the satisfaction of the people who work for the company. Employee retention and recruitment are critical issues. We promote exemplary health and safety practices, good working conditions, fair remuneration and a wide range of training and development opportunities. We provide our employees with secure jobs, promote diversity and prevent discrimination in the workplace.
The focal points of our sustainability policy with respect to environmental issues are the reduction of our carbon footprint and the promotion of sustainability in product use. We emphasize careful use of resources such as materials, plastics, chemicals and energy and minimize waste. It is imperative to maintain sustainability standards throughout the supply chain.
Over the past business year, we have consolidated the sustainability activities of our operating units at Group level and defined shared sustainability targets. We aim to provide those responsible in the various operative fields with a compass for the course of future development. This enablesus to pool our strengths, facilitate the exchange of best practice and leverage existing potential even more effectively.
Group-wide targets include, for example, setting fixed investment quotas for sustainability projects and for innovations. We establish uniform quality standards throughout the supply chain, reduce energy consumption, and make greater use of environmentally friendly prod-ucts and materials. Finally, we aim to become the employer of choice for potential and existing employees through the creation of a working environment that meets their expectations.
We explain how we intend to implement these goals in our declaration of conformity with the German Sustainability Code (DNK), which we have published annually as the Dussmann Group sustainability report since 2018. In this publicly accessible statement, we report on the progress we have made in integrating sustainability into all our activities.
With our integrated management system (IMS), we manage our sustainability activities and measure our progress. The system, which is under continuous development, documents non-financial indicators such as client satisfaction, vocational and further training, and our environmental footprint.
Our goals and management approaches are also recorded. In the coming years, we intend to expand the system of key performance indicators step by step and refine it for all business areas. “Non-financial indicators are of central importance,” says Daniel Krebel. “Only if our achievements are properly eval-uated and quantified, can we determine whether we are living up to our sustainability standards.”
Interview with Sascha Hartmann and Luca Ragusa on current sustainability projects at Dussmann Service in Germany and Italy.
Sascha Hartmann: Sustainability plays a major role in all of our service lines - cleaning, technical services, security and catering. This topic has been part of our activities for some time, although we have not always called it sustainability. In recent years, our activities have become more systematic and strategic, and last year we set up a sustain-ability board for the German business. One of its key tasks is to define the sustainability concept and to develop ideas and measures for sustainable services - often in cooperation with clients and business partners.
Luca Ragusa: Today, sustainable action is an absolute necessity for long-term success on the market. As a family-owned enterprise, our corporate culture is built on sustainability. Clients too and society as a whole are increasingly sensitive to sustainability issues. There is therefore a continuous exchange with our clients and partners all along the supply chain, and we are constantly realign-ing our structures and processes for chang-ing sustainability requirements.
Ragusa: One of the most important levers is certainly purchasing. This is where it is decided how sustainable the raw materials, materials and equipment we require are, and with which partners we work in both the food and non-food sectors. We believe in the principle of circular economy and promote it with our purchasing strategies and policy. We are paying increasing attention to sourcing goods which are energy-efficient, made from recycled materials and, which can be reused or remanufactured. We enforce the sustainability standards we have set in our supply chain through our code of conduct for suppliers.
Hartmann: In addition to purchasing, I see service provision as an important lever. This includes, for example, regularly training our cleaning staff and making them aware of sustainability issues. That doesn’t sound very spectacular, but it has a big impact. After all, their behavior has a direct impact on the environmental footprint of our clients. But of course there is much more to sustain-ability, for example, we are currently testing prism glasses in cleaning operations. These prevent the necessity of turning the head upwards when cleaning exterior facades and adopting an unhealthy posture for longer periods of time. Another example is deployment of an exoskeleton, which unburdens the spine when carrying heavy loads. And of course we use automated machines, robots and drones in various services to relieve our employees of heavy physical work or routine tasks.
Hartmann: There are undoubtedly certain sustainability standards which are established in our industry. Nevertheless, there is an increasing number of clients with special requirements. For example, some want to quantify the environmental impact of our services. We are currently developing a calculation model, because our services differ hugely, are highly individual and their environmental impact is influenced by many factors. Our goal is to be able to give a reliable estimate of the CO2 emissions generated by every individual service we provide.
Ragusa: Of course, the materials and equipment used play a major role. An energy-efficient vacuum cleaner, biodegradable trash bags or environmentally friendly clean-ing products can have a significant impact on the environmental footprint. This is especially true when you consider the quantities we use. It is therefore procurement that largely determines the level of sustainability we can offer clients.
Hartmann: There are many, because we see sustainability as an all-encompassing concept. In the catering division, for example, we have launched a campaign to order from regional partners to shorten food transport distances. Since 2020, we have been cooperating with the system provider Vytal for reusable tableware. In the same year, we started a cooperation with Eaternity, who provides a database, which enables us to determine the carbon footprint of each of our dishes. This is shown on the meal plan and in our catering app.
Ragusa: We are giving a lot of thought to how we can reduce carbon emissions in administration and on our properties. In the coming years, we plan to further improve our energy efficiency and rely on renewable energy wherever possible. Due to the number of sunlight hours, Italy undoubtedly has a competitive advantage over other countries in this respect. However, new technologies are increasingly making self-sufficiency in renewable energy possible, even in less sunny regions. It is the most environmentally friendly solution and we have a great deal planned.
Sascha Hartmann is head of the cleaning competence center at Dussmann Service Germany and is responsible for cleaning, hygiene and disinfection. He supervises the cleaning and disinfection operations of thousands of cleaning operatives at Dussmann Service Germany.
Luca Ragusa is head of purchasing at Dussmann Service Italy and is responsible for the procurement of cleaning equipment with an annual volume of approx. 22 million euros.