Sustainability at ZEISS

Sustainability at ZEISS

Ideas and projects for a resource-efficient and innovative future

As a company owned by a foundation, sustainability and success in business are inextricably linked at ZEISS. ZEISS aims to anchor sustainable added value as an integral part of its business activities focusing on innovative solutions that contribute to positive development in society and enable long-term, profitable growth.

On a journey of continuous improvement

How ZEISS understands sustainability

ZEISS is driving forward the three focus topics of added value for society, circular economy and climate action, thus actively contributing to the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, ZEISS can concentrate on the areas in which the company has particular opportunities to exert influence and can achieve the greatest impact for people and the environment.

Learn more about the sustainability strategy at ZEISS

Sustainability as part of corporate strategy

In harmony with climate, economy and society

ZEISS’ commitment to sustainability is firmly anchored in its strategy. The strategy also aims to improve the company’s social and environmental impact, view sustainability as a value driver and leverage sustainability challenges as opportunities.

Neutrality as a goal – climate action at ZEISS

Neutrality as a goal – climate action at ZEISS

The Paris climate goal of reducing global warming to well below two degrees is ambitious. ZEISS wants to play its part to help the global community achieve it: carbon neutrality in our operations by 2025.

  • SDG 13 – Climate action
A round thing – circular economy at ZEISS

Circular economy and sparing use of resources

ZEISS strives for a circular use of resources with a view to reducing the impact on the environment. To achieve this, more renewables and recycled materials will be deployed and loops closed. Water consumption and the amount of waste are set to be further reduced.

  • SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
Value for society at ZEISS

Value for society

ZEISS would like to generate added value for a more sustainable society through its products and solutions. At the same time, the protection of human rights is of great importance to ZEISS and is a core priority. What’s more, ZEISS is committed to the common good, education and research through sponsorships. This includes providing as many people as possible with access to high-quality healthcare. The company also encourages its employees to volunteer for the STEM initiative “A Heart for Science”.

  • SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
  • SDG 4 – Quality education
  • SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth

Current projects and initiatives

Sustainability has many faces at ZEISS worldwide. Sustainability is not something that only employees can achieve. ZEISS encourages its employees to get involved in a variety of ways.

  • Group photo Earth Day 2023

    Earth Day 2023

    From planting seedlings and trees to extensive clean-up activities - ZEISS employees worldwide actively engaged in environmental protection within Earth Day in 2023.  

  • Science Slam

    Science on stage

    ZEISS supports Science Slam, in which young researchers have ten minutes to share their scientific projects with the audience in an entertaining and vivid way. In this way, ZEISS wants to keep generating enthusiasm for nature and technology in society.

  • Aalen: new microscopes for modern teaching

    New microscopes for modern teaching

    ZEISS is supporting the Justus-von Liebig School in Aalen (JvL) with fourteen ZEISS Primostar 3 microscopes and three ZEISS Stemi 305 microscopes. The supply also includes integrated HD streaming cameras which are now enabling modern teaching that is both practical and well networked.

  • Heidenheim: digital solutions enable new perspectives

    Digital solutions enable new perspectives

    ZEISS is sponsoring the Werkgymnasium Heidenheim with 16 ZEISS Stemi 305 microscopes and 16 Primostar plus accessories. The scope of delivery also includes integrated HD streaming cameras for the two teaching devices, which now enable hands-on and simultaneously networked modern biology teaching. The town of Heidenheim also subsidized the project.

  •  Impact India Foundation LifeLine Express

    Hospital on rails

    ZEISS brings medical care to rural areas on the Impact India Foundation LifeLine Express in the form of eye tests and eyeglass lens provision.

  • High-tech site in Jena

    Getting to work with energy

    The new high-tech site in Jena is to be integrated effectively in the public transport network. In Oberkochen, employees arrive at the site by company bus – electric and emission-free.

  • Electric vehicle charging while at work

    Heading home with energy

    Electric vehicle charging while at work: ZEISS employees have also made this possible. Up to 50% of the parking spaces in Jena are to be equipped with charging stations. There is also sharing for e-scooters.

The Sustainability Insights booklet

A collection of existing sustainable and innovative solutions for a more sustainable society and the people behind it.

Role of the Carl Zeiss Foundation

Carl Zeiss AG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, dedicated to creating open spaces for scientific breakthroughs. One of the key areas for support is the efficient use of natural resources. The ZEISS Group benefits from being a foundation company in many ways.

Statute of the Carl Zeiss Foundation

Protection against takeovers

Undesirable investors cannot be part of ZEISS, so the company is unencumbered by investor interests. The common good of the Foundation is at the heart of all activities.

Carl Zeiss Foundation

Profits for a good cause

For its charitable research sponsorships, the Carl Zeiss Foundation depends on profit distribution. Part of the company’s profits goes to the Foundation, the rest remains in the company for investment in innovation and research.

Business with foresight

Business with foresight

Free from pressure to generate returns, ZEISS is in a position to finance projects over the long term instead of having to achieve short-term success. Economic foresight enables innovation.


Enthusiasm for employees

Enthusiasm for employees

The majority of employees work for foundation companies for between 10 and 25 years – significantly longer than for capital market-oriented companies. They are also more crisis-proof.

  • Milestones that last

    Almost two centuries of corporate history: what ZEISS has achieved in terms of sustainability during this time.

  • 1875

    Company health insurance funds

    Before the introduction of statutory health insurance in 1883, company health insurance funds were pretty rare. ZEISS was eight years ahead.

  • 1889

    Carl Zeiss Foundation

    On 19 May 1889, Ernst Abbe established the Carl Zeiss Foundation. Two years later, the first shares in the company were transferred.

  • 1896

    Introduction of a minimum wage

    With employment contracts, ZEISS guarantees employees a minimum wage. Nearly 35 years before labor laws and more than 120 years before the minimum wage.

  • 1993

    Environmental reporting

    Since 2017, large companies in the EU have been required to produce a sustainability report. ZEISS published its first environmental indicators in 1993.

  • 2011

    Promotion Fund

    Promotion funds from companies tend to be rare. But as a Foundation company, ZEISS takes responsibility and founded the promotion fund in 2011.

  • 2018

    Less consumption

    ZEISS sets targets for 2020: 50% less energy, 40% less water, 30% less waste, 50% less CO2 (base year 2010, reduction relative to value added). The targets have been achieved.

  • 2019

    Sustainability Department

    The Sustainability Department becomes part of the Group strategy. In addition, there is now a Group Head of Sustainability.

  • 2020

    New climate target

    Based on the goals of the United Nations, there is also a new climate goal for ZEISS: to be carbon neutral in its own operations (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 2025.

  • 2022

    Further environmental targets

    Further environmental targets: 20% less energy, 10% less waste and 15% less water by 2025 (base year 2019, reduction relative to value added).

    • Sustainability Report 2022/23 English

      Pages: 88
      File size: 2 MB
    • Sustainability Report 2021/22 English

      Pages: 85
      File size: 64 MB
    • Sustainability Report 2020/21 English

      Pages: 77
      File size: 4 MB
    • Sustainability Report 2019/20 English

      Pages: 72
      File size: 5 MB
    • Sustainability Report 2018/19 English

      Pages: 66
      File size: 3 MB
    • Sustainability Report 2017/18 English

      Pages: 60
      File size: 6 MB
    • Nichtfinanzieller Bericht 2020/21 (DE)

      Pages: 19
      File size: 231 KB
    • nichtfinanzieller_bericht_2019_2020

      Pages: 18
      File size: 223 KB
    • nichtfinanzieller-bericht_2018_19

      Pages: 16
      File size: 1 MB
    • nichtfinanzieller_bericht_2017_2018

      Pages: 14
      File size: 220 KB
    • German Supply Chain Act Statement EN

      Pages: 12
      File size: 222 KB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy DE

      Pages: 1
      File size: 3 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy FR

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy IT

      Pages: 1
      File size: 134 KB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy JP

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy KR

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy PL

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy BR

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy PT

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB
    • ZEISS Quality Policy RU

      Pages: 1
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    • ZEISS Quality Policy SK

      Pages: 1
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    • ZEISS Quality Policy ES

      Pages: 1
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    • ZEISS Quality Policy CZ

      Pages: 1
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    • ZEISS Quality Policy HU

      Pages: 1
      File size: 2 MB