Think Circular: sustainability at CWS
At CWS, we have firmly anchored sustainability in our circular business model and we are convinced that only truly circular business activities can help address the global challenges of resource scarcity and climate change. That’s why, shoulder to shoulder with our customers, we are already creating sustainable solutions in the fields of Hygine, Workwear and Fire Safety.
We develop high-quality, durable products and extend their useful service life by repairing them. We close our cycles by reusing items for similar or new purposes. For a healthier and safer future.
The CWS Sustainability Report 2020/21
Find out in our new Sustainability Report 2020/21 how we dare to be more circular at CWS, what detective work has in common with green mats, and how we live our values on diversity and compliance.
Browse the report here by simply clicking on it, or download the PDF below.
We live circularity
What does circular economy look like at CWS and what does circularity mean for us? Find out in our Think Circular clip.
Our 2025 sustainability strategy
By 2025, sustainable products should account for more than 90 per cent of our new business.
Responsibility for the supply chain
We do our utmost to ensure fair working conditions in our supplier companies. By 2025, we want to audit all the relevant suppliers in risk countries to ensure their compliance with work and social standards.
We offer our products in a service cycle and continue to use them sensibly even after their useful service life. We are pursuing the vision of zero product waste.
We are reducing our ecological footprint of all of our processes. We are currently working on a holistic climate strategy for the CWS Group.
Best in class working environment
The health of our employees is our top priority along with the professional development and inclusion of all talents and perspectives. We want to reduce the number of accidents to 0 by 2025. The share of women in management positions should be increased to 50 per cent.
The three pillars of our engagement
With our products and services we think in sustainable cycles. But we want more. Because comprehensive sustainability is not only evident in products and processes, but also in healthy employees, trusting cooperation with business partners, and satisfied customers. This is why we have defined three pillars of sustainability through which we want to become the most sustainable company in our industry by 2024.
Putting People First!
Our staff are our most valuable asset. Their health and safety is a matter particularly close to our heart. We want to reduce the number of accidents in our companies to zero by 2025. We also look out for the well-being of the people in our supplier companies too by stringently monitoring the safety of our supply chain.
We are already consistently thinking in cycles in many parts of the company. But that’s not enough for us! In future, we want to render our cycle processes even more efficient and anchor recycling and upcycling as central components of our economic activities. This will allow us to save resources and establish a sustainable service cycle for our customers.
As a service company, we are always on the lookout for partners who improve our offerings. We regularly survey our customers and employees. We understand the diversity of our workforce as a rich source of knowledge, which we maintain and want to expand even further in the future. In addition, we cooperate with start-ups, technical development partners and advisory boards – this enables us to stay close to the market and bolster innovations.
Find out here how CWS commits to sustainability
More colourful and better: diversity and inclusion at CWS
Diversity and inclusion are a matter of great discussion throughout society. CWS is also actively working to strengthen diversity within the company. After CWS put the topic of diversity & inclusion on the management agenda internally, the company already took the next logical step: CWS signed the "Diversity Charter" in Germany. All other country organisations will follow. This is an official commitment by CWS to consistently promote diversity and inclusion throughout the company.
"We want to create a working environment in which every single person, regardless of their gender, age, nationality, religion, disability or sexual orientation, is valued and can play to their full strengths. I am convinced that diversity is a good breeding ground for innovation and top performance," Jürgen Höfling had recently emphasised in his interview in the employee magazine ONE.
This process is driven by the Diversity & Inclusion Council - CWS understands diversity as the integration of different perspectives, i.e. across all aspects of diversity. This is not about quotas or rules, but rather about valuing every single perspective.
Sustainability in hand washing
Handwashing is one of the most important preventive measures to avoid infection with infectious diseases such as COVID19. At the same time, water is one of the most valuable resources and one of the most important foundations of life. So how can infection prevention and environmental protection be combined?
Before cooking and eating, after going to the toilet, sneezing, coughing or blowing one’s nose, when using public transport and of course every time we come home - even as children we learn how important thorough handwashing is for our health. With the Corona pandemic, awareness of this has risen once again - after all, hand hygiene is one of the most important measures to protect oneself against infection with the virus.
However, those who wash their hands more often also use more water. This is shown, among other things, by the billing data of the German energy service provider Techem. According to these data, consumption of cold water in March and April 2020 was 10% higher than in the previous year, while consumption of hot water rose by as much as 11%. Other suppliers have made similar experiences - at Lake Starnberg the regional water supplier even registered an increase of 30 % in the first weeks of the lockdown. Whether this is due solely to the washing of hands cannot be determined and is also rather unlikely. In reality, however, we use more water for personal hygiene than, for example, for washing clothes or for eating or drinking.
Water consumption - we have it in our hands!
Every time we wash our hands, we consume an average of 2 litres of drinking water. In other words, the water we use for 90 hand washes is enough to fill an entire bathtub. Saving water when washing your hands is very easy - even in your private life: turning off the water after wetting your hands and turning it on again only after soaping them is good for the environment - and saves money in the process.
Another advantage could - according to one theory at least - be that if you turn off the water when soaping, you wash your hands more thoroughly because you are less hurried and more concentrated.
In public washrooms, the CWS SmartWash can ensure both improved hygiene and water savings: the tap dispenses water and soap premixed to the user, thus ensuring that soap is used every time hands are washed with the appliance. Preset dispensing intervals ensure that users wash their hands thoroughly and take the time to soap, rub and rinse. With the CWS SmartWash, only around 200 millilitres of water are used per hand wash cycle.
Any washroom operator who decides in favour of SmartWash is making a long-term commitment: as a special feature, CWS and its partner Smixin donate 10,000 litres of water to Made Blue for every CWS SmartWash rented, which replaces a regular sensor tap. The foundation invests this in water projects in countries with severe water shortages. In this case, 10,000 litres is enough to provide 10 children with access to clean wa ter at school for a whole year.
Climate analysis confirms: workwear in the rental service reduces CO2 emissions
Workwear in the rental service contributes to climate protection with its active circular economy – that was the finding of the Circular Advantage Study conducted by the CWS Group in collaboration with the consultancy firm sustainable thinking in 2020. On average, the rental service cuts greenhouse gas emissions by around 50% (including transport).
Read more here.
Sustainability moves us
The CWS sustainability movie shows how we work for a healthier and safer future every day.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
At CWS, we work every day for a healthier and safer future. In doing so, we are guided by the official sustainability goals of the United Nations, also known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The UN formulates a total of 17 political development goals, which are divided into the three areas of economy, ecology and social affairs. This division is intended to ensure that all relevant levels of sustainability are taken into account. At CWS, we support this holistic approach with a wide range of activities.
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
At CWS, we believe that diversity is a critical component of a vibrant, productive company culture and enriches each and every one of our teams. That's why we work strategically with our Diversity Board to strengthen diversity throughout the company.
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Clean water is indispensable for the health of people and nature. That is why we take a variety of measures to reduce the use of environmentally harmful chemicals in washing processes and minimise our fresh water consumption by all means. For example by:
- Harmonising our detergent suppliers
- Investing in water treatment
- Resource-saving washing programmes
- Product innovations (for example SmartWash)
- Microplastic-free products
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
For us, the focus is always on people. That is why we work on the satisfaction of our employees as well as that of our customers. We check that social standards in the supply chain and compliance rules are adhered to. We favour the diversity of our workforce and promote the talent, health and safety of all the people who work for us.
- QESH activities within CWS (Quality, Environment, Safety & Health)
- Diversity Board within CWS
- Use of Fairtrade cotton
- BSCI partnership (Business Social Compliance Initiative)
- United Nations Global Compact membership (UNGC)
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Our business model is based on the idea of a continuous and consistent circular economy. We are continuously working on making our products more and more sustainable while maintaining the same performance and extending their service life with constant quality. Following the Circular Economy approach, we already think about the entire life cycle during development.
- Rental service at the core of our business model
- Repair of garments, recycling of our donors
- Activity in the wear2wear™ initiative.
- Use of Fairtrade cotton and FSC paper
- Organic certifications
- Cradle2Cradle certifications
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
We are actively involved in the fight against climate change. We are continuously reducing our CO2 emissions and energy consumption. With our circular business model, we also help to conserve other resources.
- Cooperation with ClimatePartner (climate-neutral certification of print material, reforestation projects with customers)
- Innovative products (such as SmartWash)
- Resource-saving washing processes
- Optimisation tool for our delivery routes "Optimize My Day
- Expansion of e-mobility
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
The health of our environment depends on intact ecosystems. With our sustainable products and diverse efforts along the value chain, we contribute to protecting our land ecosystem.
- Cooperation with ClimatePartner (climate-neutral certification of print material, reforestation projects with customers).
- Organic certifications
- FSC certifications (over 90% of our paper is FSC certified or comes from sustainable resources)
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
At CWS, we always have the big picture in mind. With sustainable products, we can create added value for the customer and at the same time drive positive development for people and the environment. We also look at our supply chains and work to achieve fair working conditions and minimal environmental impact.
- Membership of the UN Global Compact
- Membership of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)
- Cooperation with World Toilet Organization
- Cooperation with Made Blue
An all-encompassing offering
One for all.
Many people are familiar with our dust control mats, as well as our towel and soap dispensers. But at CWS, we also optimise your washroom, create fire safety concepts, as well as designing and cleaning business attire. These are just some of our solutions and your possibilities. We work for people in a wide variety of industries, advising, planning, checking, repairing, sorting, washing, documenting, etc. We do it with pleasure. And in a sustainable way.