The goal of reducing CO2 emissions has become anchored in many corporate strategies. It is urgently needed, since the extreme weather conditions in 2021 alone have shown that climate change has long since ceased to be a theory or a future scenario. We are in the middle of it, and industry will determine how it proceeds. We at igus® also have the goal of becoming climate-neutral, and we want to achieve this goal by 2025.
In 2021, we generated 31.2% less CO2 emissions at our headquarters and production site in Cologne than in 2020. This number includes Scope 1 and Scope 2. If you are interested in the issue, you are probably familiar with these terms, but most people probably are not. We too had to deal with many terms and methods of comparison in the beginning, and we have engineers who are concerned with nothing but our sustainability goals and the projects that will achieve them.
This article provides a brief explanation of the term “scope” and shows by way of example what emissions fall into which scope and are considered direct or indirect.
Reducing CO2 as a private citizen
Are you familiar with your CO2 footprint? If not, you can have it estimated with a free online tool from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Of course, you can reduce CO2 consumption easily even without this knowledge: drive less, consume less meat (or give up meat altogether), be clever in heating your apartment or house, and shop regionally. As a private person, it is relatively easy to reduce your CO2 footprint. But what about companies and industry in general?
Scope – three areas for emissions comparability
By signing the Paris Agreement, almost all countries have committed themselves to limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by 2100. Measures for achieving this require uniform criteria and reporting standards so that the impact can be measured and CO2 emissions by companies and industries compared.
In 2011, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and several NGOs drafted a template for such standards with scientific support. The Protocol divides emissions into three areas: Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3.
Scope 1 – direct emissions
Scope 1 covers all emissions that a company or organization causes directly. Direct emissions according to Scope 1 include company vehicles, combustion processes, coolants, steam generation, and leaks from systems such as air conditioning. Combustion processes can be from production, such as firing ceramics, or other sources, like a sweeper’s internal combustion engine or a building heating system’s emergency power unit.
Scope 2 – indirect emissions
Indirect emissions according to Scope 2 include heat, electricity, and steam purchased by companies from external suppliers. A company’s carbon footprint depends on how “green” the generation of this purchased energy is.
igus® GmbH switched to green electricity at its production site in Cologne in mid-2021 and to climate-neutral gas at the end of 2021, and can therefore report a significant reduction in CO2 emissions according to Scope 2 for 2021 from their 2020 levels.
Scope 3 – indirect emissions in the supply chain
Scope 3 includes all emissions that originate from external independent sources, but are a consequence of the company’s activities: all employees’ travel to the workplace, waste from production and everyday work, material transport, water consumption by employees and production, fuel consumption by suppliers, delivery of products to customers, waste from products disposed of by customers, and much more.
Due to the diversity of Scope 3 emissions, the calculation is very complex and is currently still based largely on estimates.
This is just where an innovation in the igus® plain bearings online shop comes in: Since April 2022, the CO2 footprint has been specified for the most commonly used plastic plain bearings. The goal is to be able to identify it for all plain bearings. Anyone who uses such components for their machine will have one more piece of the puzzle in the future when it comes to assembling the overall picture of CO2 emissions generated.
The path to climate neutrality at igus®
We want to be climate-neutral at our headquarters and production site in Cologne by 2025. The switch to green electricity and climate-neutral gas in 2021 was a significant step toward this goal. But a lot more is happening:
In production, older, energy-intensive injection molding machines are gradually being replaced by new, more energy-efficient ones.
Lighting in production halls is currently being converted to LED.
Comprehensive leakage management has enabled energy to be saved in the production of compressed air.
In the plain bearings product area, the ECO product line, in which plain bearings are made from regranulate from our own production waste, has now been created.
Since 2019, we have been taking back old plastic cable carriers from companies and recycling them in our chainge program. We don’t care whether the cable carriers are from igus® or from competitors. In April 2022, we launched the first product made from this recycled material, the E2.1.CG cradle-chain e-chain®.
Our environmental management system is certified according to ISO 14001 and the corresponding energy management system according to ISO 50001:2018.
Employees and customers can also charge their e-cars at 20 charging points on our company campus.
And there is much more. According to Scopes 1 and 2, we are 95% climate-neutral as of April 2022. We still have a lot of work to do to reduce our CO2 footprint, but we are proceeding systematically, step by step, along this path.