Environmental awareness and sustainability play a particularly important role in the corporate philosophy of Villeroy & Boch. In order to be able to develop and employ technologies that are both ecologically expedient and economically affordable Villeroy & Boch focuses on research and scientific knowledge, on continuous further development and innovations: the company assumes responsibility for current and future generations and lays the foundation for long-term success in harmony with sustainable environmental protection.
A centralized environment management system supervises all environmentally relevant Group processes and links company locations all over the world. At the same time, Villeroy & Boch is pursuing process-integrated environmental protection, which starts as early as the production stage.
In recent years, it has thus been possible to increase energy efficiency and productivity in the production of ceramics considerably– not least thanks to the pressure casting technique employed at the Torgau tableware factory for the manufacture of modern, asymmetric tableware shapes. As a result of the new wastewater system for glaze processing, approximately 300 tons of dry glaze raw materials can be recovered every year. At the same time, the quantity of wastewater discharged into the Saar has been reduced by half. The manufacture of ceramic products requires extremely high temperatures – a large proportion of the heat loss is passed through a heat recovery system and used for drying the products. By investing in a CHP unit Villeroy & Boch aims to increase energy efficiency even further in the future. In order to generate electricity from waste heat, an internationally unique energy recovery system was installed in 2011 in the Mettlach sanitaryware factory. This system works according to the ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle). The electricity generated in the system is fed into the Villeroy & Boch network and used by the company.
Another impressive example of how energy efficiency can be increased effectively is the tableware furnace at the Merzig factory, which has been optimized to save 4,200 tons of CO2 a year.
In addition, there are various projects from the field of applied research, such as SIMSAN in the production of ceramics, the goal of which is to use resources and energy optimally and thus keep CO2 emissions to a minimum. Within the scope of the Dry Control project, a new, more efficient control and drying process is being developed, which is designed to save 1,550 tons of ceramic raw materials, 15,000 MWh of energy and 2,200 tons of CO2 emissions for the Mettlach factory alone.
Industrial safety and the health of our employees are also part of the overall environmental protection and occupational health and safety strategy at Villeroy & Boch: no lead compounds have been used in sanitaryware production for over 20 years and lead oxide, which is still used by the rest of the ceramic industry, is dispensed with completely at Villeroy & Boch.
Environmental aspects are given particular consideration when developing innovative products. Today’s consumers are looking for environment-friendly products, with which they can make an active contribution to environmental protection. A good example of this from the Bathroom and Wellness Division is the Omnia GreenGain WC, which uses as little as 3.5 litres of water per flush, achieving the same flush results while representing a saving of 40% as compared with conventional systems. And if the reduced flushing volume of the dual-flush system is selected, the WC uses just 2 litres of water per flush. Villeroy & Boch also sets standards for urinals: an innovative "Extractor section" reduces the customary flushing volume of 2 to 3 litres to 0.8 litres.
In the fittings segment the single-lever mixers Cult, La Fleur and Circle are equipped with a perlator to save water and energy. And easy-clean properties also make a product environmentally sound: Ceramicplus, a special-finish ceramic surface for sanitaryware products, is especially easy to clean, meaning that the use of water and cleaning-agents is reduced considerably.
Villeroy & Boch surpasses the environmental standards required by law in many fields. Certificates are proof of this. The Swedish factory Vargarda and the Mettlach sanitaryware factory have thus met the stringent European criteria set out by the EMAS environment standard and qualified for globally valid certification according to ISO 14001. The German tableware locations of Torgau and Merzig will also be certified and validated according to ISO 14001 and EMAS criteria this year.