Sustainability at the manufacturing facility in Sweden

Both SwedSafe AB in Höör, Sweden, and UVEX-CAGI S.R.L. in Ceva, Italy, are subsidiaries of the uvex safety group. The production facility for uvex hearing protection is located in Höör and our safety footwear is manufactured in Ceva.

 

More than 1,700km apart, the two plants do not seem to have much in common aside from bearing the uvex name. However, there is one thing – or rather, one guiding principle, to which both plants firmly adhere: sustainability.
As a family company, uvex thinks long-term. It also sets great store by sustainability. The uvex claim, “protecting people,” means that in addition to looking after those around us, uvex is also deeply committed to ensuring the well-being of the environment. The company therefore considers it imperative to act in a responsible way when dealing with resources and the environment during the manufacturing process.
But what exactly is sustainability, and in what ways is it reflected in product manufacturing?

The following eight principles make up the main sustainability focal points in both Italy and Sweden:

1 Energy and climate
2 Carbon footprint
3 Water and waste water
4 Waste and recycling
5 Made in Sweden
6 Industrial and product safety
7 Environmentally friendly product concept
8 Social responsibility

 

Let’s look first at our colleagues in Sweden, who put this method of sustainability into practice:

1 Energy and climate

Minimum energy consumption, maximum climate protection.
Over the past eight years, the plant has managed to decrease its energy consumption by 45%.
We keep energy demand at a very low level using modern machinery and innovative processes.
Energy resources are used in an efficient way to help protect the climate.
For example: just 3.6 kWh of energy are needed to manufacture 1,000 pairs of earplugs, which is no more than that required to produce the paper for your favourite weekly magazine.

2 Carbon footprint

Innovative energy sources for a clean environment.
Protecting the environment using renewable energy sources is one of uvex’s most important goals. We never use gas or oil for heating or in the manufacturing process. Most of the energy we use comes from wind and hydroelectric power, which means we produce no CO2 emissions. Of our electricity, 70% is produced in an ecological way.

3 Water and waste water

We would like to protect global water resources over the long term.
We have therefore been doing out utmost over the years to reduce our water consumption to a minimum.
The result: just 140ml of water is needed to manufacture 1,000 pairs of earplugs, which is equivalent to approximately one champagne glass.

Cleaner method: any water used in the manufacturing process completely vaporises, which means not a single drop of waste water is produced.

4 Waste and recycling

We recycle, which means that no hazardous waste is created.
We have managed to significantly decrease our waste production in recent years.
A mere 85 grams of waste are produced when manufacturing 1,000 pairs of earplugs. That’s the weight of one full coffee filter. Of our total waste volume, 75% is sent to the SYSAV incineration plant in Malmö, where it is converted into new energy.
The rest is recycled, and no hazardous waste is produced. So, 75% of our waste is converted into new energy and 25% is recycled.

5 Made in Sweden

Made in Sweden – think globally, act locally. Short transportation routes save valuable energy and reduce environmental pollution through harmful emissions. This is the reason 90% of our raw materials and packaging are sourced from local Swedish suppliers, principally within a 100km radius of the plant.
Furthermore, the whole manufacturing process takes place in one location: Höör, Sweden.
Made in Sweden: the stamp of protection and quality.

Sweden has particularly strict regulations regarding health and environmental protection. Regular inspections ensure compliance with laws and regulations. uvex is therefore the first organisation in the personal protective equipment (PPE) sector to have been audited and approved in accordance with ISO 26000*.

6 Industrial and product safety

Optimal industrial safety is a matter of course for us. There have been no accidents at work for our employees since the company was established in 2005.
This health and safety pledge also applies to our products: it’s been proven that our earplugs are free from harmful substances*.
Protecting people’s health is guaranteed: we undergo regular inspections from independent testing institutes.

*uvex has a list of banned harmful substances which stretches far beyond those stipulated in EU regulations (e.g. REACH)
Independent testing institutes regularly test to verify the absence of these harmful substances.

7 Environmentally friendly product concept

Smart refill system. Easy disposal.
Of the earplugs we produce, 50% are sold in large, refillable dispensers. One dispenser is able to hold 400 pairs of earplugs and can be stocked with refill packs, decreasing the volume of waste.
Our earplugs are for disposable hearing protection. As they can be incinerated without waste, they can be safely disposed of after use.
Unlike reusable earplugs, ours do not need to be cleaned with water and aggressive cleaning agents. This helps conserve water resources, minimising the impact on the environment.
With a refill quota of 50%, we save 85% on plastic film and 50% on cardboard boxes.

8 Social responsibility

Equal opportunities.
More than 90% of our assembly work is carried out by people with disabilities.
Our long-standing collaboration with sheltered workshops ensures the highest level of quality and gives individuals with disabilities a professional future.
We help young unemployed people get their first job, and introduce them to the working world.
The number of people we support per year is double that of our own employees.

Those are our eight core principles on sustainability in Sweden.
The core sustainability principles to which our Italian colleagues adhere can be found in the upcoming blog post “Sustainability in the security footwear manufacturing process” as part of our sustainability brochure.

For questions on the topic of sustainability, or how we put it into practice at our plants, do not hesitate to contact us via email at expertenblog@uvex.de