Bielsko-Biala: Supporting Trelleborg’s sustainability charge on the path to net zero

Bulb with leaf inside

The most important Trelleborg Seals & Profiles manufacturing facilities recently transitioned to 100% renewable electricity. This key development marks a significant contribution to our Group-wide sustainability ambitions.

Climate change is threatening our way of life. From Siberia to California, rising temperatures, and extreme weather events increasingly jeopardizing food and water security, together with the safety and wellbeing of entire communities. As recently highlighted by the Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the repercussions of the climate crisis look set to grow considerably over the coming decades.

Minimizing this impact will require society to work together to limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, or as close as possible. This includes businesses taking concrete steps to decarbonize. At Trelleborg Group, we are committed to achieving carbon-neutrality for our own operations (scope 1 and 2) by 2035. Building on significant reductions to our CO2 emissions in recent years, in February 2021 Trelleborg Group launched “50 by 25”: a robust, Group-wide commitment to halve total CO2 emissions relative to sales (versus 2020 levels) by 2025.

A major milestone

As part of this process, in March 2020, the Trelleborg Seals & Profiles production site in Bielsko-Biala, southern Poland, signed a contract with local energy supplier Tauron to purchase 100% renewable electricity; an agreement fully certified by the Polish Association for Energy Certification. It means since the start of 2021, powering the facility is entirely through clean energy sources, namely wind farms and hydropower.

“We’ve been pursuing different ways to reduce our carbon footprint for several years,” says the site’s Operations Director, Rafal Dziedzic. “So, when Tauron offered us the option to switch to 100% renewable electricity, we saw this as an opportunity not to be missed.”

Located close to the center of Bielsko-Biala, the facility is Trelleborg’s largest manufacturer of seals for plastic and concrete pipes, as well as manholes and connectors, used in both drinking water and sewer applications worldwide. Given the site’s extensive production volumes, the recent switch from coal-fired electricity to clean energy has not only helped to improve the environmental impact of Trelleborg Seals & Profiles, but also the entire Trelleborg Group.

“Until late 2020, our electricity consumption accounted for more than 5,000 tons of CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) a year,” Rafal explains. “The new green electricity contract effectively brings this down to zero. In previous years, Bielsko-Biala accounted for up to 40% of the total yearly CO2eq emissions of Trelleborg Seals & Profiles, so this is a huge step forward for our Group-wide climate ambitions.”

Two green feet

The shape of things to come

The site’s clean energy transition is not only significant in terms of climate change mitigation, it will also help reduce pollution and improve air quality for the 170,000 residents of Bielsko-Biala and neighboring communities. This is an important step forward, given Poland’s traditional reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Bielsko-Biala’s green energy approach goes hand-in-hand with the facility’s wider sustainability strategy. “Improving our energy efficiency is an ongoing target,” says Rafal. “Our energy management systems are ISO 50001 certified; a standard considered best practice for large manufacturing facilities, it goes above and beyond what many of our competitors have been able to achieve.”

Waste reduction is another important focus for the Bielsko-Biala team. For example, the facility recently introduced a program to replace single-use plastics with recyclable or plant-based alternatives. As it moves forward with its sustainability program, the team is keen to involve the local community, and particularly the next generation. In 2021, Trelleborg Seals & Profiles began sponsoring sustainability programs in a local kindergarten located next door to the Bielsko-Biala facility. The partnership will see Trelleborg fund a series of awareness programs focused on sustainability and recycling.

Involving local communities, as well as the energy sector, in Trelleborg’s sustainability efforts sends a clear message: we are all in this together. Climate change touches all areas of society, and it is important we work side-by-side to minimize its impact. While there is still a lot of work to do to reach our net-zero target, we are pleased that our collaborations are bringing us a step closer to our ambitions.

Trelleborg's commitment to sustainable development, growth, and governance is firmly embedded in our Group-wide strategic approach, which is in turn underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Visit the Trelleborg website for further insight into our sustainability ambitions and how we plan to achieve them.