Climate change and its impacts are ever-present. ZEISS is therefore committed to ambitious sustainability goals. These include carbon-neutral energy sourcing by 2022 and striving to reach CO2-neutrality in all own activities worldwide by 2025.
Beyond saving resources, responsibility includes driving sustainable development while continuing to innovate to create a positive impact for customers and consumers. "For ZEISS, responsibility, sustainability, and economic success have always been inseparably linked. We are focusing on the expectations and needs that our customers, business partners, employees and the community place on us," explains Dr. Nicole Ziegler, Head of Sustainability at ZEISS. This high priority is also reflected in the anchoring of "sustainability" as a central function for the ZEISS Group since 2019/2020 and thus its definition in the Group strategy. In the annual sustainability report, ZEISS publishes the targets and status of its sustainability activities worldwide.
ZEISS bases its sustainability strategy on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and has identified six of them where its own contribution counts most, from health and infrastructure to climate change and its effects.
"Anchoring sustainable action in the organization, making it measurable and developing it further – that is, in a nutshell, our sustainability motto."
– Dr. Nicole Ziegler, Head of Sustainability at ZEISS
The six Sustainable Development Goals that ZEISS focuses on
"One essential dimension is environmental protection. At ZEISS we are, of course, also faced with the challenges of conserving our resources and protecting our climate," says Ziegler, adding, "The resources on our planet are limited. With our targeted sustainability measures worldwide, we are contributing to protecting our planet – with a reduced CO2 and resource footprint." In this context there are many smaller and larger projects behind the progress made so far.
Wherever ZEISS modernizes or builds, for example, environmental aspects are strategically considered. The first electric charging stations are ready at the Aalen and Oberkochen sites, and hundreds are currently being installed. The simple reason: already today, 40 percent of all company vehicles are electric or hybrid. Together with MAN, tests are now being conducted on how internal logistics can be electrified.
All ZEISS strategic business units continuously reduce CO2 consumption and are committed to environment and social responsibility in their specialist areas. ZEISS Vision Care, for example, has been bundling more than 280 initiatives into its "Green, Safe, Responsible" global program.
Some of these initiatives are related to social commitment. "According to the latest Vision Atlas of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, more than 2 billion people do not have the opportunity for vision care, an eye examination, or a pair of glasses. As a manufacturer of eyeglass lenses and ophthalmic instruments, we are explicitly contributing to change this situation," explains Joachim Kuss, Head of Communications at ZEISS Consumer Markets Segment. "We support global initiatives such as the Christoffel Mission for the Blind, Helen Keller International, and Optometry Giving Sight or the Free Lunch Fund in China, but we also frequently involve ourselves directly on site. For example, with the Aloka Vision Programme which serves up to 20,000 patients per month," he adds.
The efficient use of materials and energy is also part of the overarching sustainability program. And the efforts are paying off at ZEISS Vision Care, as the example in the video shows. For example, new standardized packaging for semi-finished eyeglass lenses saves 68 tons of paper per year. This represents around 1,600 trees saved from cutting down. And as a positive side effect, 2.1 percent less ink is needed because the packaging is no longer colorfully printed.
In addition to environmentally friendly packaging, the focus of ZEISS Vision Care's sustainability efforts also includes systematic activities to save materials directly in the manufacturing process of the eyeglass lenses and measures to protect water or improve health protection in the workplace. And in the future, all efforts will continue to focus on sustainable, resource-conserving and future-oriented operations.
By looking back, it's easy to see how the company's history is lived up as a commitment for today and tomorrow. Company founder Carl Zeiss and his partner Ernst Abbe were dedicated to industrial manufacturing, education, and scientific progress. As an early reformer, Ernst Abbe sought modern, fair working conditions and corporate social responsibility in Germany. With the establishment of the Carl Zeiss Foundation in 1889, corporate responsibility has been anchored uniquely at ZEISS. The Carl Zeiss Foundation is the owner of ZEISS and SCHOTT and, as one of the leading scientific foundations, is committed to promoting education and science.
Ernst Abbe was aware that a company could only develop in an intact social, scientific, and economic environment, in an atmosphere open to innovation that is also committed to the common good and upholds the workforce's rights.