Fair and clean
Sustainability is more than a buzzword
Being "green" is crucial to many companies today. More and more often, customers and the general public demand that sustainability standards are observed. Certification and proof that processes in the entire value chain are fair and clean have become increasingly important. This also holds true for Axpo as an energy supply company.
According to Johannes Pretel, Senior Originator at Axpo Germany, renewable energies and the demand for sustainable products is becoming increasingly critical for distributors, traders, and key customers. It depends on the buyer: If a company does not have end customers, a rating agency such as EcoVadis is usually sufficient to assess the supplier in terms of sustainability. In contrast, companies with direct end customers must provide more information. Customers from the consumer industry have been contacting Axpo directly to redefine their product requirements. They want to offer customers solutions that come from sustainable, renewable sources, for example electricity exclusively from hydropower. "Many companies are motivated to use resources ecologically. Drivers can be end customer requirements, but often times the company has its own image in focus," Johannes Pretel points out.
EcoVadis is a rating agency that assesses companies worldwide and rates their sustainability policies. In times of globalisation it has become more and more difficult to verify the fair and clean origin of resources and services. EcoVadis makes these individual processes in the value chain transparent for its customers and prepares a ranking of companies in a particular sector. You will find more about EcoVadis on their website.
Small and large companies increasingly position themselves with their CO2 footprint and its reduction in their sustainability reports. For example, IKEA has set an objective to cover 100% of its energy needs with renewable energies. And the company is not alone: Corporations like Nestlé, UBS, Swiss Post and H&M have green energy on the agenda as an important element in their sustainability strategy.
All total, some 90 companies worldwide avow to this trend. Among other sources, the website There100 provides a list of these companies and what they want to achieve.
A clean slate in the value chain
Axpo is interviewed annually by various customers. The spectrum of questions is extensive. Axpo regularly goes through a complex catalogue on wide-ranging sustainability issues. Not only the ecological and economic dimension are of interest. More often the focus lies on social issues. Questions like "Are you active in the diamond business?" or "What is your position on child la-bour?" are not unique. Customers are most interested in social topics such as continuing education or child labour, safety and environmental protection.
Axpo is also reviewed by the rating agency EcoVadis and answers questions on sustainability for customers in a complex assessment.
"Customer enquiries for 'non-financial' information about Axpo have clearly increased in recent years," confirms Christian Capello, Head of Sustainability Management at Axpo. "Becoming green is a trend in practically all sectors because the general public and consumers more often demand that individually defined standards are adhered to. If not, they stop buying our products," emphasises Christian Capello. In the meantime policy-makers and the business sector demand that all the steps in the value chain fulfil sustainability requirements. This reality is also essential for Axpo. On the one hand, Axpo is a supplier and on the other dependent on external suppliers.
Sustainability has a long tradition at Axpo. Below is summary of the milestones achieved in recent years to embed sustainability in the corporate culture:
- Embedding sustainability in the MbO process: In addition to their personal objectives, all higher-level managers have a sustainability goal.
- Publication of the Sustainability Report - as the first energy company in Switzerland with a G4 "Comprehensive" rating according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard.
- Transfer of Sustainability Committee tasks to Sustainability Management.
- Introduction of a Codex for Business Partners, based on procurement guidelines from the most important international organisations.
- Establishing sustainability focus topics for Axpo and summarised in areas of activity with binding goals for the upcoming four years.
- Introduction of key figures to measure sustainability performance in three dimensions: Economy, ecology and society.
- Publication of the integrated Annual/Sustainability Report as the only energy company in Switzerland with an A+ rating according to GRI.
- Introduction of a Code of Conduct obligating Axpo to unconditional compliance to legal, integrity and ethical principles in its business activities.
- Publication of the first integrated Annual/sustainability report with a rating of B+ according to GRI.
- Publication of the first corporate-wide green house gas inventory according to ISO 14064.
- Publication of the first environmental production declaration (EPD) according to ISO 14025 for the Beznau nuclear power plant.
- Publication of the first Sustainability Report according to GRI at level C+.
- Establishment of the Sustainability Committe