For us, environmental responsibility means that our offering of innovative, smart and efficient solutions enables a more sustainable living environment. It also means that we operate in a responsible manner and continuously seek ways to reduce the overall environmental impact of our business operations and increase our energy efficiency.

Solutions that make a difference

Drinking water is the most important element of life. Our holistic water delivery solutions, such as Aqua Port & Combi Port and Riser installations, ensure good drinking water quality and efficiency. Our hygienic flushing system, Smatrix Aqua Plus, provides stagnation-free operations with its compact rinsing station replacing the water in the conduits based on temperature or time. It is important that the water within an entire conduit system is regularly replaced and that the temperatures in both the hot and cold water pipes are correct in order to reduce the risk of contamination and spread of legionella causing pneumonia.

We also want to do our part in decreasing the percentage of water being wasted due to leaks in water supply and pushing smart solutions in our industry. For instance, we continuously invest in the development of new technologies such as Phyn Plus that help reduce the waste of water by detecting leaks, thereby enabling the responsible use of water.

Our indoor climate solutions enable efficient use of energy in buildings, which also reduces CO2 emissions. Single-family homes can reduce their energy consumption by 15% with our smart controls and auto-balancing of underfloor heating. Industrial buildings can consume 40% less primary energy with our radiant heating solutions instead of gas radiators. Replacing fan coils with radiant heating and cooling in hotel rooms enables a 40% decrease in primary energy use. Our radiant heating and cooling solutions are more efficient as they utilise wide surfaces for heat transmission. This makes it is possible to use substantially lower temperatures for heating and higher temperatures for cooling compared to radiators and fan coils. Therefore, our solutions play an important role in more environmentally friendly construction.

Good and reliable infrastructure solutions are core elements in drinking water delivery and protecting the environment. Our Barrier PLUS, a fully plastic barrier pipe system, can protect drinking water from toxic chemicals anywhere, even if the land is a former industrial site with busy traffic. Barrier PLUS pipes have an expected lifespan of more than 100 years. Our stormwater systems prevent waterborne pollutants from ending up in bodies of water. This is crucial as climate change has increased heavy rainfalls, and urbanisation has led to growth of areas covered by impermeable surfaces. In many places, underground pipes do not have enough capacity to filter all stormwater, causing flooding and even the emission of pollutants into water bodies.

Product lifecycle impacts presented in Environmental Product Declarations

To increase the transparency of the lifecycle impacts of our products, we have embarked on a programme for setting up a product transparency and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) platform and have created the first pilot EPDs. The pilot projects covered product lines from all our business segments, and the first results were available in 2020. As an endorser of the World Green Building Council’s call for action on Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront, we are committed to having product-specific EPDs covering the top 40% of our product portfolio by 2025 at the latest and declaring the environmental impact of our entire product portfolio via product-specific EPDs no later than in 2030.

Towards carbon neutral production

The main emissions from our production are greenhouse gases. Our production does not generate any SOx or NOx emissions, and the amount of VOC emissions is not material. Since 2016, we have pursued the climate-related goal of reducing our direct and indirect (scope 1 and 2) greenhouse gas emissions by 20% per net sales by 2020 from the 2015 levels. We reached that goal and therefore we have been working on our new, even more ambitious climate action road map for 2021–2030. We have committed to the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the Science Based Targets initiatives, promising to pursue actions that limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. We expect that the Science Based Targets initiative will approve our new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets during the first half of 2021.

In addition to science-based targets, Uponor aims to source 100% renewable electricity by 2025. As of 2020, all seven of our Nordic manufacturing facilities use green electricity. With this change, the carbon dioxide emissions of our manufacturing facilities have decreased notably. These Nordic manufacturing facilities account for approximately half of the total electricity consumption of all our manufacturing facilities. Our U.S. manufacturing facilities and distribution center moved to 100% green electricity during 2020. In Germany, our manufacturing facilities have already previously switched to green electricity.

Less waste, more recycle and reuse

The typical waste from our manufacturing facilities involves either plastic or metals. We aim to recycle all metal and plastic waste and strive to reduce the amount of waste with the target of zero waste to landfill. A substantial part of the PEX, main raw material in plumbing, waste that cannot yet be recycled goes to waste incineration to produce energy. In 2020, we were able to decrease the amount of waste from production. Uponor Infra in particular has already taken big steps in reusing and minimising waste. The segment reuses all scrap generated during production in line with the appropriate standards.

Finding a solution for recycling PEX waste is on our agenda. We now have a number of promising options to recycle PEX either mechanically or chemically. These technologies are currently being evaluated and their commercial implementation schedule is still open.

We are committed to Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), which is an initiative to ensure that plastic pellets, flakes and powders that pass through manufacturing are handled with care and do not end up in the environment. During 2020, our manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Germany became OCS compliant and other manufacturing facilities made good progress in OCS matters. We have identified spill areas, such as loading and unloading of trucks, and have improved locking systems and strainers to collect pellets, flakes and powder. Training of employees and preventive measures, such as cleaning, have also started. OCS will be implemented in all our manufacturing facilities by the end of 2021.

ISO management systems ensure systematic approach

We pursue an environmental management system in line with ISO 14001 and an energy- management system compliant with ISO 50001 in order to reach its environmental and energy targets systematically. In 2020, 15 manufacturing facilities were ISO 14001 certified and 9 ISO 50001 certified.