Freudenberg Performance Materials develops pioneering and sustainable solutions to create better global living conditions. We promote social interaction and protect the environment at all our locations.
At Freudenberg Performance Materials, sustainability is an integral part of the entire product life cycle: from the use of raw materials and energy in production through the use of our products by the customer, right up to final disposal. We not only comply with international standards – we aim to exceed them. We pursue the overarching objective of achieving the lowest possible CO2 balance. One example of how we do this is developing products based on recycled materials that are free from harmful substances such as AZO colorants, formaldehyde and APEO. In the process, we have set new standards in the industry. This also includes strict compliance with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), the GHS regulations (Globally Harmonized System), Freudenberg’s internal FSS7 standards on chemical safety and other relevant guidelines.
Freudenberg Performance Materials recycles PET bottles and uses the flakes produced as a raw material in the production of nonwovens for the construction industry. At our Italian locations in Novedrate and Pisticci Scalo as well as in Colmar, France, we recycle literally billions of PET bottles. This makes us the largest user of recycled PET flakes in the European construction industry.
Front-fusible interlinings are characterized by their high volume, extreme elasticity and low weight. They are specifically designed for men’s apparel. The front-fusible interlinings are manufactured using recycled PET fibers in a particularly efficient production process. Some polyester spunlaid nonwovens based on our proprietary technology are also made from recycled PET and are used for buildings.
Some of our interlining fabrics for apparel are compostable and biodegradable.
Excellent products can only be produced in an environment in which the highest standards of occupational health and safety are observed. For this reason, the prevention of occupational accidents and work-related illnesses is our top priority.
One example of our comprehensive commitment in this area is the Group-wide initiative “We all take care”, which was launched in 2002. Its goal is to increase employee awareness of work, health and environmental protection. As a result of “We all take care”, we have been able to significantly reduce accident rates across our operations, for example. Each year, with the “We all take care” Award, the Freudenberg Group pays tribute to employees whose involvement in the initiative has shown particular success, progress and exceptional performance.
At the Parets del Vallés site in Spain, the safety culture needed to be strengthened to ensure that colleagues were aware of their responsibility to each other in looking out for safety deficiencies. This required the willingness and ability of each employee to look beyond the strict limits of their respective roles and to take personal responsibility for their own and their colleagues’ wellbeing.
To achieve this goal, a project team developed a new safety tool. The principle was that “observers” recognize dangerous actions, address them and help to avoid them. The project improved not only employee risk perception and observational ability, but also the feedback process and the ability to communicate. Because the business of detecting safety deficiencies has no negative consequences, employee trust in the new measures is growing and increasing numbers of colleagues are participating.
At our site in Colmar, France, volatile organic compounds (VOC) needed to be removed from the exhaust gases of two production lines. Purification was carried out by thermal oxidation, a process associated with high gas and energy consumption. This needed to be reduced.
In the first step, two drying ovens were supplied with additional air. This meant that the ovens’ burners required less gas for drying the nonwovens produced there. In the second step, the project team succeeded in ensuring that energy not needed for heating the admin building was efficiently used. This energy was used instead to heat parts of a factory building used for bottle recycling, to warm three water circuits needed for cleaning plastic bottles, and to dry PET flakes from the crushed plastic bottles. In addition, heat was also recovered from a refrigeration compressor.
The two steps of the project led to significant savings of gas and electric energy.
The management team at our Tayun Tao-Yuan site in Taiwan noticed that many colleagues were suffering from muscle pain – especially in the neck and shoulders. The people in charge created an ergonomics program to remedy the situation. In the process, the management team looked for a total employee health solution. A key factor in this regard was Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement used to evaluate body weight. If this number is higher than 25, an adult is considered overweight, with negative implications for health. Employees needed to be encouraged to eat healthily and exercise regularly to reduce their BMI, especially if it was above 25.2.
As a consequence, a competitive program was launched in March 2014. All colleagues signed up for the program and were divided into ten teams, each under the guidance of a team leader. Within the teams, colleagues were classified into two groups, depending on whether their BMI was above or below 25.2. The program was as follows.
The team leaders remind their teams to meet certain nutritional guidelines and exercise regularly. Each participant submits weekly data about improvements to BMI, dietary changes and participation in sporting activities. For example, some employees take a brisk walk around the site, go swimming as a team or even train for a marathon. All these details are included in the assessment and the three winners from each group receive a company prize.
The aim of the competition was to improve the values of half of all employees whose BMI was greater than 25.2. Investigation of the results at the end of the year showed that BMI values had actually fallen for 60 percent of participants. The competition sensitized staff to pay greater attention to their health. More and more employees have joined one of the many sports groups. They are now fitter and eat more healthily.
In the second part of the health program, an individual ergonomic assessment was created for each employee. Future treatments were planned on this basis to help employees get rid of their muscle pain.