Setting new benchmarks in sustainability

Since 1926, uvex's commitment to protecting people has evolved to include safeguarding the environment. Over the past decade, we have slashed our CO2 footprint by 70% and made significant progress on product durability, recycling concepts, and bio-based materials.

This has included the launch of our "protecting planet" range which includes a head-to-toe sustainable PPE offering. Our commitment to sustainability extends across products like helmets, gloves, earplugs, and eyewear, employing recycled materials and eco-friendly packaging. The uvex xact-fit planet earplugs, for example, are manufactured using almost 100% renewable energy.

We have also made notable progress integrating polyurethane surplus into safety shoes and boot midsoles without compromising performance with a goal for all footwear models to incorporate recycled or bio-based components within the near future.

At uvex we actively pursue energy efficiency in manufacturing with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045, five years ahead of the European Green Deal schedule. Green electricity usage since 2014, solar panels, water consumption monitoring, and eco-friendly building practices contribute to uvex's sustainability ethos. The logistics center's gold pre-certification by the German Sustainable Building Council attests to our holistic approach to environmental, economic, and sociocultural factors.

uvex's autonomy, with 100% ownership by the uvex safety group and manufacturing of over 61% of products in-house, enables these extensive sustainable practices.

Calculating carbon savings

Building on the protecting planet range, at uvex we are now offering data on the amount of greenhouse gases generated by our products. While we are one of the first manufacturers in our sector to do this, we expect this practice to become increasingly commonplace. With the CSRD and EU Taxonomy Regulation coming into force, the carbon footprint of every product used in a company becomes an important part of its overall carbon footprint.

As there are multiple greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, CO2 equivalent (CO2 –eq) provides a standardised assessment of their effects.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most well-known greenhouse gas and serves as the reference value with a CO2 equivalent of 1. Other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have a much stronger warming effect on the Earth's atmosphere than CO2, thus they have higher CO2 equivalents. The CO2 equivalent of a greenhouse gas indicates how much that gas contributes to global warming compared to CO2.

The CO2 -eq values allow for comparisons between standard uvex products and those with sustainable features, such as proportions of recycled or bio-based materials. The amount of CO2 saved per product can easily be extrapolated to the number of employees in a company. This can quickly lead to significant savings in relation to the service life, thus immediately reducing the company's CO2 footprint.

For example, a uvex 1 G2 planet with 30% degranulated material 7.2kg (7.17kg) CO2 saves 1.3kg CO2, the standard model of the uvex 1 G2 with a knitted shaft with 8.5 kg CO2. Assuming a service life of 12 months, this would be just under one tonne of CO2 per year for 900 employees. That is equivalent to a journey of 4,900 kilometres with a mid-range petrol engine.

To calculate the CO2 footprint of a product, uvex uses SimaPro software based on the ecoinvent database, which contains life cycle inventory data on energy, materials and transportation etc.

This software examines where the various components are produced, the production processes, transport routes and methods as well as any disposal processes. The result, including any background processes is calculated using the data obtained. There are so many different factors when making a product that we recognise it is a long-term project to have precise figures for every single part of a product, but it provides a highly detailed estimate. And as developments are taking place continuously it is becoming increasingly precise. The process is done according to ISO 14067 and allows us to produce very authentic carbon footprint figures.

The calculations represent an important step forward, helping buyers to better understand which companies and products are truly sustainable.

We need to bring transparency into the whole field of sustainability. Providing these figures is a huge achievement because it means we can show something tangible rather than just relying on claims. We believe it will become the norm to compare the CO2 emissions of products in the future in the same way as we currently compare the prices of products.

Growing demand for data

With sustainability woven into the fabric of uvex, we are well-placed to assist with the growing interest in calculating carbon emissions – particularly in certain industries such as automotive.

The European Green Deal has set the target that Europe will be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This means saving CO2 for companies will become as natural as saving costs, because CO2 will cost money directly and indirectly through CO2 pricing.

Companies’ carbon footprints include not only what they themselves emit during the manufacturing process but also anything they source. These are categorised as Scope 3 emissions and the data is something that uvex’s customers are specifically demanding, making the company’s ability to provide carbon footprint data at component and product level a huge selling point.

More sustainable requirements are also appearing on tenders, with businesses such as large construction companies looking for partners that can offer evidence-based initiatives to help them to achieve their sustainable credentials and win business.

There is also growing recognition that partnering with a knowledge provider like uvex can be invaluable in helping to educate and guide customers through the maze of sustainable policies and practices.

Looking ahead

uvex has been blazing a trail for sustainability within the industry for some time. Ultimately, we want to help transform our linear economy into a circular one.

We’re not just saying, ‘OK, we'll include recycled content in our products, tech, sustainable product – done.’ It’s about rethinking the whole concept and the way we might approach business models and service models in the future. Circularity means keeping the product or the materials of the product in the loop as long as we can. Beyond that, it means thinking about refurbishing options and biodegradability. Composting, for example, means closing the biological loop.

Verena Keller

Creating circular PPE is a bold vision but, for uvex, it’s just one more step along a road we have been walking down for decades.

About uvex group

The uvex group unites four companies under one roof: the uvex safety group, the uvex sports group (uvex sports and ALPINA), the Filtral group (Filtral and Primetta) and Protecting People GmbH for the B2C business. The uvex group is represented by 49 branches in 22 countries and produces by conviction with a focus on Germany. 60 percent of the nearly 3,000 employees (as of FY 2020/21) are based in Germany. uvex is a global partner to top international sports as an outfitter to countless top athletes. The guiding principle of protecting people is both a mission and an obligation. To this end, the uvex group develops, produces and sells products and services for the safety and protection of people in the professional, sports and leisure sectors.

Verena Keller

Sustainability Development Lead at uvex safety

The uvex CO₂ footprint

To determine the transparency of our products’ greenhouse gas emissions throughout the entire supply chain, and to provide our customers with a comprehensive view of the company’s carbon footprint, we have started to calculate the CO₂ footprint for our products.

Sign up to our newsletter to receive information about our latest products, services and other interesting highlights
Sign up now