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Sustainability: frequently asked questions

Sustainable action in the fields of company management, market, workplace, environment and community.

Management

What does BLANCO consider its main contribution towards ecological, social and economically sustainable social development?

Corporate Social Responsibility is a firm part of our corporate policy. For over 25 years, sustainability has been firmly anchored in BLANCO's corporate culture as a holistic approach to the respectful and responsible use of the resources that have been entrusted to us.

The features of this are: long and trust-based collaborations with partners; value-oriented action; consideration of fundamental ethnic principles; respectful, appreciate interaction between management and staff; respectful interaction with nature. CSR is a part of our corporate culture.

What are the critical social and/or ecological effects that are associated with our business activities?

The use of raw materials and energy in the manufacture of our products.

Processing the raw materials for the manufacture of stainless steel sinks is an energy-intensive activity; ceramic requires a lot of energy in the hardening process, and the raw materials for the composite SILGRANIT® are on the one hand based on crude oil, and on the other obtained from mining. The processes used in our production facilities also use energy.

And by offering secure workplaces, we want to be a reliable partner for the people in this rural region.

What strategic objectives, or what claim is behind our responsible company management?

Safeguarding the production sites, especially the ones in Germany, by investing in new and innovative technologies, modern employee-friendly added-value systems, competitiveness, and with that the associated increase in quantities. And this in turn will also help to safeguard workplaces on the production sites. BLANCO made a considered choice to manufacture its products in Germany.

The development and certification of the existing environmental and energy management system for the optimum maximisation of resources. Of particular importance here are the systematic recording, evaluation and improvement of the relevant environmental effects. Another focus is sensitising staff to the responsible use of energy in their direct environment.

Reducing the relative use of energy is a strategic objective.

The reference figure is the quantity of manufactured products.

As a family company, we want to be involved in many different ways in creating a worthwhile environment for people by focusing on youth, education, sports and culture.

How is CSR or sustainability anchored in the organisation of our company?

CSR/sustainability is not assigned to its own particular area. There are, however, clear responsibilities for the key issues in responsible company management (e.g. officers/departments for environment, occupational safety etc.).

CSR/sustainability is not assigned to a particular department, but is anchored in a cross-sectional team.

CSR/sustainability carries with it the clear responsibility of the top management (e.g. responsibility with regard to Board member/s or Sustainability Board at the highest management level).

How are ecological and social aspects incorporated in the regular analyses of financial, business or reputation risks in our company?

• We carry out event-based risk analyses with an eye to ecological and/or social aspects.

• Ecological and/or social aspects are recorded, evaluated and prioritised within the framework of our risk management system.

What mechanisms are in place for BLANCO to guarantee legal conformity (compliance) in the fields of competition law and anti-corruption?

• Our company has in place clearly defined guidelines on the subjects of competition law and anti-corruption (e.g. Compliance Guideline, Code of Conduct).

• Compliance is addressed in initial and/or further training.

• Our own department for law and compliance comes directly under the management.

• Close ties to the company and encouraging employees' competencies creates a "togetherness" amongst the workforce that quickly exposes and deals with any questionable behaviour on the part of a particular individual.

• Regular sensitisation by the management.

How does BLANCO spread the approaches and solutions for sustainable company management throughout the company and beyond?

We regularly provide our colleagues throughout the company with information on good examples, and encourage reproduction of the same (e.g. through training, workshops, the Intranet, employee meetings or magazines etc.).

We inform our suppliers and/or customers of our approaches and solutions and their own opportunities for responsible actions (e.g. at supplier workshops and trade fairs, on guided tours of the sites, in product information, at customer days etc.).

In order to spread our approaches and solutions beyond the company, we publish our examples in branch initiatives, company co-operations, multi-stakeholder processes or similar initiatives.

We are constantly working together with other players to develop and further approaches and solutions of responsible company actions that help to advance the entire industry or specific topics (e.g. the development of standards and codes, recording and evaluation methods, technologies and processes).

The interaction between managers and staff is described in the guidelines "Staff, working together and management". Our guidelines are prepared actively and for the long term. The talks on guidelines (workshops) introduced in 2013 and spanning every hierarchy are another important step towards turning written guidelines into ones that are lived.

As a member of the Caux Round Table (CRT), BLANCO is responsible for observing ethical principles in everyday business life.

Our approaches are presented in guided tours of the works and press conferences.

How does BLANCO share the social, ecological and economic effects and achievements of our business activities?

We report on specific events in our corporate communications/PR work or publish information in our business report or other publications (e.g. themed brochures or reports on individual projects).

We provide extensive and regular information in a CSR/sustainability or company report on the social, ecological and economic effects and achievements of our business activities.

In what way does BLANCO enter into exchanges with corporate stakeholders (such as NGOs, residents and communities) on social and/or ecological aspects of its business activities?

We enter into exchanges with social stakeholders regarding social and/or ecological aspects of our business activities as events demand (e.g. at information events, Open Days, at conferences and through enquiries from individuals).

Event-based meetings with municipality representatives or directors of other companies, including about joint projects to promote the region, are an integral part of the company management.

Open dialogue is held with residents.

Various topics are processed by the Chamber of Commerce working group.

What is the value of Germany as a location in the strategic alignment of our company, and how are we ensuring that our locations remain future-proof?

The investment initiative is one way in which the administration board and management are stating their commitment to Germany as a location. The measures all help to secure the location and jobs, create positive workplaces, encourage product innovation and increase market shares.

The logistics centre at Bruchsal is being substantially extended. The increase in goods volume is being accommodated by an investment volume of 20 million euros.

Sulzfeld (stainless steel manufacture) is facing the challenge presented by low-cost manufacture abroad with a complete restructuring of its production sequences and manufacturing methods. Over 20 million euros are to be invested in this over the period 2012-2015.

The increasing numbers of composite sinks at the production location of Sinsheim necessitates the requirement for investment in production expansions and buildings. A total of 10 million euros will be invested here by 2015.

What measures in recent years have marked a leap in development in the organisational implementation of our responsible company management?

BLANCO was already aware of its social and ecological responsibility in the early years of its foundation, although in true Swabian tradition this was not really made known to the public. The company's application for the environmental award in 2006 brought with it a review of its active communication. Since then, the original idea of the environment has been developed into

the sustainability concept. The constant process of further development of the management systems for the environment and energy has constantly provided the stimulus for new projects and objectives. In 2014 the environmental management system, which was first laid down in 1994, complemented by the energy management, will be certified for all of BLANCO. The first steps visible to the outside are the environmental/sustainability reports that have been published regularly in since 2006 and the sustainability guidelines that arose out of the environmental guidelines in 2013.

Market

How does BLANCO ensure that sustainability aspects are consistently taken into account in the development of products/services?

BLANCO's vision formulates customer satisfaction thus: "We want to delight our customers with innovative system solutions all around the sink centre in professional designs, excellent quality and with maximum benefit for the customer."

Product development meets this claim. The development, introduction and improvement of products follows a specific process that is laid down in the innovations manual. The inclusion of all the relevant company departments from the outset in the project phase ensures that legal and BLANCO's internal requirements are met and that its specified claim can be achieved. This applies both to the products it manufactures itself and to the raw materials, bought-in components and the few items of merchandise it uses.

All our sink materials are easy to look after, resilient, heat- and acid resistant, 100% lightfast and long-lasting, and their safety for use with foods is tested by independent test institutes. With regard to colour definition, we ensure that our colours will suit the furniture environment for the long-term so that trend considerations do not dictate product replacements.

Stainless steel is a classic material for recycling. SILGRANIT® and ceramic can, depending on the standards of the relevant district administrations, usually be taken to a suitable recycling facility.

Environmental and energy aspects are key considerations in the decisions regarding the acquisition of plant and machinery.

Has BLANCO implemented any processes for the identification of critical suppliers (by social and/or ecological aspects)?

We analyse all our direct suppliers in order to identify any who may be critical socially/ecologically.

Long-term relationships are greatly valued in materials management.

Potential suppliers can register and provide a short description of their company in the redesigned supplier portal. This information is passed on to the responsible purchaser, who can then qualify the supplier in the computer-based supplier relationship management system, and thus record anything important and of interest.

Suppliers use set questions to introduce themselves and present their services.

Information on energy, environmental and compliance issued is already obtained at this stage. For instance, the purchasing department obliges all suppliers to observe BLANCO's specific list of banned substances and substances to be avoided, and asks for existing certificates that are then entered directly in the system, where they can readily be accessed. Thus the guidelines and certificates are stored centrally and transparently, and can be followed up with absolute ease and reliability. We currently have evaluations for our 150 most important suppliers.

To what extent are sustainability criteria taken into account in procurement or in the selection of suppliers?

We take social and ecological procurement criteria into account for every product/the entire product range:

For instance, is the company certified to DIN EN ISO 14001 or 50001?

Are the valid substance bans being observed, and how will this continue to be ensured?

Is it possible to see the production sites? (This question has to be answered in the affirmative)

To which ethnic principles is the company committed (e.g. Caux Round Table, CSR)?

Workplace

What rules, agreements and standards are the foundation of our personnel policy?

On all the sites, the current valid legal requirements and international standards, and also the operational or group agreements and/or international general agreements.

With which innovative measures has BLANCO had particular success in the field of "the workplace"?

Health management

BLANCO's health management policy is controlled by the steering group Health. This deals with health topics, agrees further measures and provides staff with information on the subject at regular intervals.

The "work and move" programme is to be launched in 2014. Internal "multipliers" will be qualified to pass on their knowledge, and there will be regular checks of the workplace to ensure that the guidelines are being observed.

Management staff will be given regular health check-ups by agreement with the company doctor. Further measures will then be derived from the results in a follow-up.

Staff will also be offered exercise programmes as part of the "BLANCO fit" exercise programme, and healthy, low-calorie meals will be available every day in the canteen. In the summer months, every member of staff will be offered free mineral water.

The company will also provide flu injections, along with checks for skin and bowel cancer. There is also a dentist on the premises.

Management staff will also be offered burn-out prevention with psychological support (anonymous).

Environment

On what rules, agreements and standards is our environmental policy based?

On legal definitions and international standards as well as industry agreements or agreements with multi stakeholder initiatives that go beyond the legal definitions and international standards on sites with little in the way of regulation.

How is our environmental management system checked?

There are regular internal audits of the environmental management system.

There are regular external audits of the environmental management system.

The company has a certified environmental management system (e.g. ISO 14001 or EMAS).

The environmental management system will be audited externally as part of an overall/integrated management system (including quality assurance, occupational safety and much more).

What measures have been implemented in line with the environmental management system?

Solar thermal energy: In Bruchsal 2008

Photovoltaics: In January 2012, BLANCO installed a large-scale photovoltaic system on the roof of the logistics centre at Bruchsal.

CHP: Commissioned in December 2012, Sulzfeld

Gas turbine: Acquired and commissioned in 2014

BLANCO prefers to utilise the natural energy of the sun, and in January 2012 the company installed a large-scale photovoltaic system on the roof of the logistics centre at Bruchsal. Its 3680 modules cover a total area of 6072 m² to produce environmentally friendly and sustainable energy. The peak output is 900 kW, which spares the environment more than 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

What is pleasing is that the actual level of efficiency of the photovoltaic system is above the planned level, and so in good sun years the entire electricity consumption can be adjusted in the logistics centre.

In 2013, the CHP at Sulzfeld supplied around 900,000 kWh of electricity and 1.4 million kWh of heat. The performance and running time of the plant was above expectations.

The gas turbine at Sinsheim is expected to provide 600 kW of heat and 400 kW of electricity.

What are the positive effects of the environmental measures on the company?

The energy produced at Bruchsal is fed into the electricity network and remunerated.

At the moment, we are able to achieve profits with the photovoltaic system. However, as the system is the property of BLANCO, depreciations have to be offset in the first years.

The emission of harmful substances into the environment is reduced by about 600 tonnes a year.

The energy acquired by the CHPs and gas turbine is consumed on the sites. Thanks to cogeneration, the energy balance is positive.

Community

What measures has BLANCO implemented to benefit the community?

1. BLANCO has been supporting day nursery places since 2009 so that the children of employees from other municipalities or towns who would otherwise not be entitled to a place can also be cared for in Oberderdingen. BLANCO contributes towards every single place in a day nursery that is taken up by a child of one of its employees. BLANCO parents can choose between childcare with extended opening hours, all-day childcare and mixed age groups.

Places can be booked on two, three of five specific days a week. This means that the perfect balance can be achieved between work and family life, and ensures that the "BLANCO tots" are given the best possible care.

2. Staff with dependants who require care often face particular challenges and are constantly trying to balance their double burden.

With this in mind, representatives from the Oberderdingen company groups BLANCO and BLANCO Professional have signed a co-operation agreement with the care specialist Haus Edelberg. All staff and their dependants are welcome to make use both of the full in-patient nursing care and short-term, day, night and weekend care, with guaranteed admission within 24 hours to one of the care facilities in the Rhine-Neckar region. Where there is a recognised care requirement, the healthcare insurer will contribute towards the costs, while the experts at Haus Edelberg will deal with the applications and all the other formalities.

Thus BLANCO is also accommodating the demographic change, and creating resources for those who will one day be “former staff”.