Trelleborg Seals & Profiles: from environmental vision to sustainable change

Bulb with leaf inside

Value creation through sustainability strategy is no longer just a consumer trend: it is a vital consideration for an industry leader like Trelleborg. Sigrid Sandberg, Sustainability Business Analyst at Trelleborg Seals & Profiles, lays out the current ‘50 by 25’ action plan to halve CO2 emissions by 2025.

Trelleborg has sealed the trust of the global community through its precision-engineered solutions for over a hundred years. And with that level of influence comes a responsibility to stakeholders and the planet. Sustainability is no longer just a consumer trend – it’s a business imperative for brands across multiple sectors and industries. The challenge is clear: to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability for future generations to succeed.

Trelleborg has risen to this challenge by announcing its ‘50 by 25’ campaign – its plan to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2025 – as well as its vision for total carbon neutrality by 2035. The group’s individual business units are tasked with implementing site-specific strategies that incorporates stakeholders at every level of the company’s value chain. At Seals & Profiles, Sustainability Business Analyst, Sigrid Sandberg is working to implement the unit’s commitment to sustainable development, growth, and governance.

An eye on operations

‘One of my main responsibilities is to coordinate sustainability initiatives for our different locations and production sites,’ Sigrid explains. ‘We’re working continuously to cover the three areas of focus in our sustainability strategy: compliance, social engagement, and especially operations.’

Trelleborg’s commitment to total compliance is deeply embedded in its business ethics. The company abides by all laws and regulations, meets rigorous standards of certification and approval, and is a champion of human rights. Meanwhile, social engagement means taking part in local community development and acting as a good corporate citizen, all while guaranteeing the highest standards of safety and inclusivity for every Trelleborg employee.

Sigrid’s primary focus, though, is targeting daily performance as a function of ongoing CO2 reduction in all of the unit’s operations – which is a gradual and sometimes complicated process. ‘For any organization, there are essentially two ways to reduce its carbon footprint: you can either choose to shift to renewable energy sources, or you can reduce your consumption of non-renewable energy. Because these two approaches complement one another in the work we do, we’re pursuing both simultaneously.

And change is taking hold. In March 2020, the business unit’s Bielsko-Biala production site in southern Poland signed a contract with a local energy supplier to convert to 100% renewable electricity sourced entirely from clean energy sources, namely wind farms and hydropower. This shift is not only significant in terms of climate change mitigation; it will also help reduce pollution and improve air quality for residents of Bielsko-Biala and neighboring communities.

In the past, Bielsko-Biala accounted for up to 40% of the Seals & Profile business unit’s annual CO2 emissions. Cutting this total output by nearly half represents a significant step forward, one which also relates directly to each of the three pillars of Trelleborg’s sustainability strategy.

Two green feet

A holistic approach across sectors

Addressing the unique demands of sustainability protocol involves considering multiple approaches and stakeholders at once. The United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer an excellent point of reference, and in their breadth cover the many different applications of Trelleborg’s business on both human and industrial levels.

‘You can’t simply focus on one,’ Sigrid says of the SDGs. ‘That is because each is part of a whole that represents a total commitment to sustainability and lasting change. The complete manufacturing sector needs to respond collectively, as do governments and industries. We must remain compliant, and we’ve got to work together.’

Trelleborg’s specific priority across all its operations is to halve CO2 emissions in the short-term. But the company’s extensive range of product applications means strategy implementation differs practically – and sometimes radically – from stakeholder to stakeholder. Represented are players in aerospace, agriculture, automotive, buildings and construction, and renewable energy. Their sheer diversity adds up to the potential for widespread value creation in addition to decreased emissions.

This is why the Trelleborg Seals and Profiles is also currently engaged in projects to transform business-as-usual for stakeholders in other sectors. ‘It’s an exciting time to be working on applications to contribute to the production of renewable electricity, for example, or to support sustainable housing solutions,’ Sigrid says.

From glass facades that support energy-conscious design in the buildings and construction industry, to developing sealing solutions for rooftop solar panels (an industry that has enjoyed annual growth of 200% since 2013), Trelleborg supports change and leads by example. Recent innovations in trenchless pipe rehabilitation have also helped turn the tide on water conservation in the Asia-Pacific region, while protecting fragile ecosystems and saving on construction costs in the process.

Company-wide progress

Since Sigrid began in her role at Seals & Profiles last summer, she’s seen the internal conversation surrounding sustainable development take shape and gather speed within the company. ‘It’s important for people to feel they’re contributing on a personal level to a more sustainable future. Everyone at Trelleborg is committed and actively engaging with the work we have ahead of us – and it’s great to see!’

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.