Effective environmental and climate protection and the responsible use of resources are core ZEISS Group objectives. By adhering to the highest standards, ZEISS believes it offers potential to both increase the company’s competitiveness and ensure innovation and cost optimization.

As a responsible company, ZEISS acts in line with the precautionary principle: This means preventing environmental impact wherever possible. A key lever for environmental protection and resource conservation is the efficient use of materials and energy – from product development and manufacturing to sales and a product’s use by the consumer. Since every reduction in energy consumption also decreases CO2 emissions, ZEISS also helps protect the climate.

Efficient Use of Natural Resources

aw materials, semi-finished goods and preliminary products, as well as energy and water, are all used to manufacture the company’s various products. This generates emissions, effluents and waste that cannot subsequently be reused in the manufacturing process. The use of natural resources is accompanied by certain risks, including a scarcity of the necessary natural resources or a negative impact on the environment resulting from the mining, processing and disposing of materials. In addition, rising energy, material, or waste disposal prices can adversely affect the company’s competitiveness. ZEISS thus optimizes its business processes in line with environmental and economic aspects and organizes them so that ever fewer resources are required.

Environmental aspects were also taken into account in product development in order to make many end-of-pipe activities unnecessary.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes

To ensure that the company continues to improve its environmental performance, ZEISS first drew up global environmental principles back in 1998. To implement them, the company utilizes an Environmental Management System in accordance with the international ISO 14001:2015 standard. The environmental performance requirements are laid out in an internal directive on environmental protection that all ZEISS units worldwide must adhere to and implement. Potential and actual effects of different environmental aspects – including waste, soil and groundwater protection, and air quality maintenance – are evaluated using an analysis grid. Depending on the result, measures to minimize the environmental impact may be defined.

The Chief Financial Officer of Carl Zeiss AG holds overall responsibility for the implementation of the ZEISS Group’s environmental management system. A Corporate Environment Officer has also been appointed, who works with the people responsible for the sites to help business units identify and implement suitable measures. At the end of the reporting period on 30 September 2019, 31 business units at 15 of the ZEISS Group’s production facilities had been certified by external auditors in accordance with ISO 14001:2015 (fiscal year 2017/18: 32 business units and 16 production facilities).

An employee suggestion program has been established at eight ZEISS sites in countries like China, the US and Germany. The employees’ submissions are assessed based on their feasibility, impact and efficiency. For ZEISS, relevant ideas include suggestions for conserving energy, improving energy efficiency, reducing materials usage, finding substitutes for hazardous chemicals and stepping up efficiency in its production processes. Ideas from employees which meet ZEISS’ stipulated criteria receive a small financial award. They are frequently honored and often receive recognition on a local level. One example from the Consumer Products strategic business unit in the reporting period is how the production process switched from using operating equipment for machining to 3D printing. This meant roughly 12,000 kWh in electrical power and 6.6 tons of CO2 were saved in the first year.

For many years, the Environmental Protection working group for the ZEISS Group has been successfully ensuring information and best practice sharing between the sites in Germany. The working group meets at least once per year. 27 meetings have been held since it was established. Officers for the integrated management system, environmental officers, environmental coordinators, representatives from the waste management, wastewater technology and utilities management divisions, hazardous materials officers and specialists for environment, health and safety (EHS) all take part in them. Moreover, in fiscal year 2018/19 a cross- divisional team of specialists in sustainable product and process development was established. It first met in November 2018. The goal is to come up with approaches for better integrating sustainability aspects such as energy and resource efficiency into development processes.

Water and Effluents

Water comes primarily from the public drinking water supply and is used for manufacturing and cleaning processes, for cooling or as sanitary water. Effluents resulting from production processes are treated in the company’s own internal treatment plants and then subsequently drained into the municipal sewer system. The quality standards are defined by local laws on water and effluents. Regular internal inspections ensure strict com pliance with these standards. Appropriate measures are implemented in the event of discrepancies.


When selecting and using raw materials, technologies and production processes, ZEISS considers their environmental compatibility. As an optics and optoelectronics company, the ZEISS Group primarily uses materials and production processes that have a minimal environmental impact and are easy to monitor. Wherever possible, potentially hazardous materials are replaced with less problematic substances. Moreover, recyclability is a key factor when selecting a material in order to close material cycles and take into account the idea of resource efficiency in its operations. Waste that can neither be prevented nor recycled is disposed of properly. ZEISS selects the most environmentally friendly disposal method that is also economically viable. In order to advance new approaches to resource efficiency, ZEISS offered four years of support to the Industrial Resource Efficiency think tank at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) beginning in July 2017.


The ZEISS Group operates a waste management system whereby waste is generally avoided, minimized, or recycled. This is taken into consideration during production and process planning. All management staff are requested to work towards these goals. If it is not possible to avoid or recycle waste, the company aims to use it to produce energy. Only if this is not possible will waste be disposed of.

Objectives and Results

In 2018, specific reduction targets for water consumption and waste accumulation were set together with the Executive Board of the ZEISS Group to be achieved by fiscal year 2019/20: a 40 percent reduction in water consumption and a 30 percent reduction in waste accumulation relative to the company’s own value added. The reference year for all targets is fiscal year 2009/10.

In recent years, ZEISS has successfully reduced its water consumption relative to the company’s value added (as sum of EBITDA and personnel expenses). This is the result of consistently reusing water in rinsing processes and the internal circulation of water in production, cleaning and cooling systems.

At the ZEISS mass-manufacturing site in China, the use of water piping systems reduced the waste water volume by around 100,000 m3 compared to fiscal year 2017/18.

As systematic waste prevention is a top priority at ZEISS – not least for financial reasons – and relevant action has been taken, it has been possible to reduce the volume of waste in the last ten years.

In fiscal year 2018/19, the relative and absolute volume of waste increased, which was due in part to ongoing construction projects. By optimizing the pucks for lens production, it was possible to avoid more than 50 tons of plastic waste in fiscal year 2018/19. Wherever possible, operating materials are recycled, while ensuring resource efficiency in production processes. One example is the recovery of 30 tons of coolant per year, which is used in lens surfacing.


Target by FY 2019/20*

Reduction achieved in FY 2018/19*

Reduction in (relative) water consumption

40 %

45 % 

Reduction in (relative) waste volume

30 %

34 %

* Relative change over reference year 2009/10

Key Figures

The performance indicators for water and waste are recorded and consolidated globally at ZEISS. They include all of the ZEISS Group’s major production sites (61 sites varying in size and activities).

The following charts show the respective values from the past fiscal years in relation to value added* and the percentage change since fiscal year 2009/10.

* At ZEISS, value added is defined as the sum of Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) and personnel expenses.

Climate Protection at ZEISS

One of the most pressing tasks facing the world today is to combat climate change and its impact. ZEISS adheres to the global goal stipulated in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and has taken its own measures in order to achieve this. In the reporting period, the status quo was analyzed in order to identify the key influencing factors for reducing CO2 emissions.

As part of risk management, the company regularly assesses the potential effects and opportunities associated with climate change. More specifically, this includes the possible impact of emissions trading, plans to introduce a CO2 tax and other regulatory developments. The company also monitors potential physical phenomena, such as extreme weather, which could affect both its own sites and those of its suppliers.

In fiscal year 2018/19, ZEISS once again participated in the CDP (previously: Carbon Disclosure Project) climate reporting. As a consequence, the process for capturing energy and emissions data was further improved. For its reporting in fiscal year 2018/19, which includes a financial assessment of the risks and opportunities, ZEISS was given a “B” on the CDP’s scale of A to D (2017/18: “B”). ZEISS aims to maintain this high level in the future. The results are publicly available at www.cdp.net.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes

ZEISS Energy Management is tasked with keeping energy-related KPIs stable or improving them, even if production quantities increase. All of the ZEISS Group’s sites within the European Union have been certified as per ISO 50001, the internationally valid standard for energy management. Each of these units has appointed an Energy Manager who is responsible for continuously improving energy-related performance. The focus here is on all of the company’s (production) processes, machines, systems and equipment along with its buildings and infrastructure.

Objectives and results

The Executive Board resolved that ZEISS’ energy consumption will be carbon-neutral by 2022. In the future, this will be done by purchasing verifiably green energy and by offsetting emissions that cannot be prevented. Moreover, travel regulations were revised in favor of climate-friendly means of transportation and to offset flights taken as of fiscal year 2019/20. The reduction targets agreed in March 2018 with the Executive Board of the ZEISS Group – a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption relative to the company’s own value added (as sum of EBITDA and personnel expenses) by fiscal year 2019/20 – shall remain valid. The reference year for all targets is fiscal year 2009/10.

Since 2018, the ZEISS production facility in Brazil has been using energy from renewable sources to produce lenses. A total of approximately 10,600 MWh of renewable energies were used. This equated to the annual energy consumption of around 3,400 families in Europe. Heat exchangers have been installed at various sites in order to make it possible to reuse the exhaust heat from production, e.g. for heating processes. Moreover, a 3D printing process for producing operating equipment was launched at one site and has achieved considerable energy savings compared to the lathing process formerly in place.


Target by FY 2019/20*

Reduction achieved in FY 2018/19*

Reduction of (relative) CO2 emissions
(Scope 1 and 2)

50 %

52 % 

Reduction in (relative)
energy consumption

50 %

52 %

* Relative change over reference year 2009/10

Key Figures

The performance indicators for energy and CO2 emissions are recorded and consolidated globally at ZEISS. They include all of the ZEISS Group’s major production sites (61 sites varying in size and activities). The CO2 emissions are recorded as per ISO 14064-1, which takes the Greenhouse Gas Protocol into account.

The following charts show the respective values from the past fiscal years in relation to value added* and the percentage change since fiscal year 2009/10.

* At ZEISS, value added is defined as the sum of Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) and personnel expenses.

** Starting in fiscal year 2017/18, separate statements are published for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The emissions were calculated with current emissions factors as per the VDA list (updated Jan. 2018).

Environmental Compliance

At ZEISS, strict compliance with all relevant laws worldwide, as well as national and international standards and guidelines, is the foundation of daily business success. This compliance is essential in order to comply with the declared quality promise and is thus a key obligation vis-à-vis all stakeholders.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes

Environmental Officers for the various sites are responsible for ensuring compliance with laws, stipulations for government approval and other rules related to the environment. They make sure that the particular regulations and guidelines are stored in the management system. If action is required, the Environmental Officers must make the necessary arrangements, such as issuing procedural and work instructions for their specific site.

Regular internal and external audits and compliance checks are carried out to determine if all legal requirements are being met. If the audit reveals that there is room for improvement, ZEISS will respond to this by defining concrete measures. It is often a challenge to ensure the timely implementation of these measures, one which the company faces by defining clear responsibilities and deadlines. The implementation of all other actions is checked through regular sequential audits. The results also feature in the annual management review. ZEISS also expects business partners who, as suppliers or service providers, have a direct business relationship with the company and its production facilities to fully comply with environmental laws and regulations as well as internal guidelines. The company monitors whether such contractual agreements are being put into practice by conducting on-site audits, both planned and as a result of specific incidents.

Chemical Management

Through effective chemical management, ZEISS ensures that hazardous substances and materials are handled safely throughout the entire process chain and, in doing so, protects employees and the environment. The respective system operators are responsible for handling chemicals safely. These employees are supported by the sites’ occupational safety specialists and Environmental Protection Officers. A substance database and a list of hazardous materials form the basis of the Group-wide information system for hazardous substances used at the company. This is also how ZEISS ensures that only those chemicals are used that are registered for the EU in accordance with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) and are authorized for use.In addition, considerable care is taken to only use substances that have not been identified as Substances of Very High Concern whenever possible.

Material safety data sheets provide users with information on how to safely handle chemical products, thereby helping to ensure that chemicals are employed in a manner that is both safe and environmentally sound. ZEISS obligates its suppliers to make the most up-to-date material safety data sheets available. Before introducing new hazardous substances, ZEISS takes care to ensure that suppliers observe the list of prohibited and declarable substances included in a factory standard and requests the corresponding certificates of conformity.


Substance Restrictions

To implement the EU directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), ZEISS introduced the legal regulations in 2005 with the help of a software application to monitor the relevant chemicals. This is now in use by all strategic divisions at the company. Suppliers must confirm that the supplied materials, substances and mixtures are compliant with the applicable directives, laws and regulations. The suppliers are asked to submit certificates of conformity for verification. These are a requirement for product approvals as part of the CE conformity assessment process. With the CE marking, the manufacturer or distributor declares that the product meets the applicable requirements. Conformity requires that certificates of conformity be available for all items in the parts list for a product. In case of doubt, ZEISS conducts its own chemical analysis of the supplied parts.


Modern technologies consist of complex mixtures of materials and components. When not disposed of properly, these can cause major environmental and health issues. In accordance with the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which governs the collection, recycling and recovery of electric and electronic devices, ZEISS has entered into an EU-wide agreement with a disposal contractor to ensure legally compliant disposal. The company is registered as a commercial distributor of electrical and electronic devices in all EU countries.


For the company, the legally compliant operation of its facilities is a primary goal. This is associated with the objectives of preventive emergency management as well as preventive maintenance, which saves retrofitting costs.