Sustainability means more than just a green logo or a comprehensive sustainability report. At Linde Material Handling, the term stands for much more too—namely a targeted sustainability strategy that has a positive impact on the environment, but also on customers and employees.
Sustainability means accepting responsibility. A long-term sustainable orientation is therefore important at Linde because the business success of our customers and thus our own success depends on it. We create lasting value by integrating environmental and social objectives into our business processes and activities.
Where does the term sustainability come from?
The principle of sustainability originates from forestry and means not using more resources than that which will be regenerated in the future. This approach is now being taken up globally and defined more broadly—such as the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development in the so-called Brundtland Report entitled "Our Common Future":
It is sustainable development that meets the needs of today's generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and choose their own lifestyle.
What does that mean for Linde?
Diverse global challenges affect the environment, society, and our company. However, a sustainable company does not emerge overnight. Since 2012, we have been working on a systematic and comprehensive sustainability strategy to address the following developments facing Linde and its stakeholders:
- Climate change and scarcity of resources
- The protection of human rights
- Health and demographic change
- Ensuring diversity and equal opportunities
Strategy and Corporate Governance
Step by step towards greater sustainability
In order to implement the sustainability strategy step by step, Linde has defined goals and anchored them along the entire value chain:
Based on the results of a materiality analysis, we have defined strategic areas of action. These show where in the value chain—at the level of suppliers, within Linde Material Handling or at the customers' end—measures are taken to increase sustainability performance. The model serves Linde as a management tool and at the same time as an orientation framework for all future activities in terms of sustainability, from setting goals and defining measures to sustainability communication. At the same time, this instrument ensures integration into the KION Group's sustainability program.
And who controls the implementation of the strategy?
A prerequisite for the successful implementation of Linde's sustainability strategy is professional management with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. A clear organization, directly controlled by management, creates the necessary framework for this.
The ultimate responsibility lies with the entire executive board. Dr. Holger Hoppe is responsible for sustainability management. He coordinates all activities in the company, manages reporting and controlling. In addition, the Sustainability Department acts as a driving force, developing and planning company-wide strategies and pilot projects in the interest of sustainability. In his role, Dr. Hoppe is also responsible for the KION Group's sustainability management, which ensures the realization of synergies in the area of internal and external reporting as well as networking and knowledge transfer within the KION Group.
Steering committee as a central instrument of the sustainability organization
The central element of the sustainability organization is a steering committee led by members of the Linde management board. In addition, the committee is made up of the heads of the individual sustainability fields of action and the regional sustainability coordinators.
The implementation and achievement of the measures stipulated in the sustainability program are the responsibility of the fields of action, supported by the coordinators in the regions and units.
Achievements at EcoVadis
As a supplier, Linde has been regularly tested and certified by the independent service provider EcoVadis since 2012. With a silver rating, Linde ranks among the top five percent of companies in the peer group. The analysis system on which the review is based comprises 21 criteria from the four thematic areas of environment, fair labor practices, ethics and fair business practices, as well as the supply chain. The methodology is based on international sustainability standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations' Global Compact, and the sustainability guideline ISO 26000.
Linde's sustainable orientation is reflected in its environmentally friendly and safe products. They help our customers to save energy, reduce emissions, and ensure high occupational safety standards. But also at the operational level, there are ambitious targets for environmentally friendly production and a safe working environment. To this end, Linde has introduced a comprehensive HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) management system.
What means are there to comply with environmental protection guidelines?
In our HSE policy, we have defined that all organizational units must establish appropriate management systems. Most of these systems are already certified according to ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 50001. External certification is currently being implemented in all Linde units as part of the sustainability strategy.
In addition, key environmental data such as energy and water consumption and waste volumes have been recorded at all production sites for more than ten years. Each site pursues reduction and efficiency targets, which are monitored by the HSE manager responsible for the site. As part of the expansion of Linde's sustainability management system, company-wide quantitative targets have been introduced since 2016 and monitored as part of a management review. Compliance with the HSE requirements is ensured by regular audits at KION Group level.
Priorities in environmental protection
For economic and ecological reasons, Linde's environmental management activities in recent years have focused on energy and waste. Lower energy consumption in production has measurable effects on the cost structure and greenhouse gas emissions. Consistent recycling helps to reduce waste and conserve raw material resources.
Satisfied employees are the key
It's not only environmental protection and safe products that are part of a sustainable company. Employees also play a central role in Linde's sustainability policy. The company's increasing internationality and demographic change, the effects of which are particularly noticeable in Germany and Europe, account for the most important developments. This means that human resources management at Linde Material Handling focuses on safeguarding and enhancing systematic personnel development.
Systematic training and further education
The training association of Linde Material Handling and Linde Hydraulics in Germany is the largest training company in the Bavarian Lower Main region. Linde offers young people a career start in twelve different apprenticeships and three dual degree programs. In addition to training, we also support employees with professional experience through various further training programs and the Linde Mobility exchange program.
Our contribution to equality
Linde is actively committed to the equal participation of women and men in the company. Therefore, we systematically support our female employees. Linde is implementing various measures to increase the proportion of women in the long term. Linde is strengthening its university marketing in order to attract young female talent at an early stage. Increasing the proportion of female candidates on the shortlist for new vacancies is a clear guideline for our recruitment.
The understanding of good leadership
Leadership at Linde refers to both the company and its employees. In addition to leadership and the development of employees, the main tasks of managers include organization with the help of a powerful team. The team develops in agile processes and structures and recognizes the needs of customers and markets.
Health and safety at work
As an employer, Linde Material Handling has a major responsibility for the health of its employees. For this reason, occupational health and safety protection have top priority in the company. The company actively supports employee health care and, with "Vision Zero—Safety in your World", sets itself the goal of avoiding accidents as far as possible in its own operational processes and also supporting customers in achieving this goal. Our externally certified occupational health and safety management systems form a stable basis. The principles of employee health and safety at work are anchored in Linde's Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Policy.
Focus on efficient and safe technologies
At Linde, the concept of sustainability has been inherent in the products from the very beginning. We are continuously working on improving the environmental properties of material handling equipment. This mainly concerns the reduction of emissions from diesel and LPG forklifts. High-performance electric forkliftswith low energy consumption and the development of alternative drives are also relevant.
Product development focuses on the person who operates the machine: Linde's ergonomic philosophy means that the machine is literally built around the person. All operating elements are adapted to the working requirements of the operator and can be controlled intuitively. Active and passive safety systems protect health and prevent the risk of accidents.
How environmentally friendly are forklifts, pallet trucks, etc.?
Linde customers who wish to evaluate and optimize their own environmental performance receive reliable data for assessing environmental friendliness. In a complex process, Linde and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) have developed their own life cycle assessment method and evaluated the main product types from pallet trucks to combustion forklifts. Both the methodology and the seven product life cycle assessments are certified by TÜV Rheinland.
Balancing is carried out in four superordinate steps:
1. definition of the objective and scope of the study,
2. preparation of the Life Cycle Inventory,
3. impact assessment, and
4. interpretation of the results.
The Life Cycle Inventory records all incoming and outgoing material and energy flows and the resulting emissions of the entire process chain.
Through other services such as used and rental trucks, Linde has developed a cycle in which products and services interact and complement each other. As a result, used vehicles can be re-used and new purchases from new and existing customers can be encouraged.
Responsibility towards society
Sustainability also involves a social responsibility. Linde has long been actively supporting the social and humanitarian sector with a number of initiatives such as "Linde Solidaria", "Les Restaurants du Coeur", and "StaplerCup hilft e. V.". Funding is also available for educational, scientific and environmental projects.
Helping others together
The social commitment of Linde Material Handling is characterized by our employees. They contribute to almost all of the company's activities and initiatives with a great deal of personal commitment—by interacting with and treating disabled people, making donations at sporting events, collecting food for the needy and homeless, or collecting raffle prizes and selling lots. This reflects Linde's strong local ties as a regional economic factor and employer.