5 December 2019
The figure is frightening: each person in Germany causes 226.6 kilogrammes of packaging waste per year. This number (the most recently published data is for 2017) is also a cause for concern because it is trending higher – by three percent compared to the previous year. Along with the delivery of goods purchased online, the Federal Environmental Agency highlights the tendency to use small portions in the food industry as another contributory factor here.
Single-use products with plastic packaging pose an additional problem because, as the Federal Environmental Agency explains, they are not optimally suited to recycling on account of numerous composite materials. Carelessly discarded, plastics can pollute the environment for centuries after what is sometimes a very short useful life.
In the Talanx Group, too, a considerable amount of disposable plastic waste is produced in the canteens and cafeterias. In order to play a part in conserving the environment, Talanx has set itself the goal of substantially reducing plastic waste: at the head offices in Hannover and Cologne the intention therefore is to largely eliminate single-portion packaging in the future so as to significantly reduce disposable plastics.
In addition, HDI has joined the "Hannover without Plastic" initiative – also known by the German abbreviation HOP (HOP - German website) – launched by the City of Hannover. The signatories to the initiative undertake in the future to work together and in their own sphere of activity to reduce the use of avoidable plastic so as to play a part in minimising plastic waste.
As soon as the existing portion sachets have been used up, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise will be provided for the canteens and cafeterias in containers. This will save some 240,000 portion sachets per year.
Employees consume 500,000 individual milk pots and 1.5 million sugar sticks with their coffee every year. In order to eliminate the enormous volume of packaging waste, we shall provide condensed milk in glass bottles and sugar cubes for the coffee kitchens, meeting points and cafeterias before the end of this year.
In 2020 we shall extensively do away with the plastic packaging used for food prepared in the cafeterias, such as muesli and salads. The company restaurants are currently reviewing possible alternatives with an eye to applicable hygiene regulations and labelling requirements.
A good 750,000 small plastic sacks are used to collect residual waste at the workplace every year. As early as the first quarter of 2020 waste bins with residual waste inserts will no longer be provided at workspaces. The various types of waste will instead be collected in appropriate containers placed at central locations in the hallways, at meeting points and in office equipment rooms. Residual waste will be fed into an automated sorting system. Recyclables (beverage cans, food packaging, yoghurt pots etc.) will be separated and prepared for recycling.
Avoidable plastic waste
Back in 2017 the Group had already eliminated the use of disposable paper cups Germany-wide for the sake of the environment; only reusable china cups are now available at the coffee stations. Each year it has been possible to save around 170,000 throw-away cups and 55,000 plastic lids through this measure.
Not only that, HDI Service AG has successfully participated in the environmental know-how transfer programme "ECOPROFIT Hannover". The goal of the programme is to help companies improve their environmental performance and at the same time save costs. With this in mind, for example, HDI Service AG developed the goal for 2019 of capping peaks in electricity consumption as well as optimising the timer programs of the building control system at HDI-Platz 1. The capping of power peaks at Group headquarters in Hannover helps, on the one hand, to reduce the need for non-renewable energy sources at times of peak electricity consumption while also cutting energy costs within the organisation. The optimisation of the timer programs has made possible savings of roughly 350,000 kWh of electricity and hence around 190,000 kg of CO2.
It was only recently that the Group adopted its enhanced sustainability strategy: in this connection Talanx signed up to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). At the same time the Talanx Group decided to operate with a net zero carbon footprint in Germany from 2019 onwards (News Release)
"As an insurer we have always taken a long-term perspective", Torsten Leue, Chief Executive Officer of Talanx AG, notes in this context. "We are keenly aware of our responsibility and we have now defined very clearly our areas of emphasis in relation to sustainability. In so doing, we support the Paris Agreement on climate change – a worldwide action plan intended to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels."