Limit our environmental impacts

Saint-Gobain is committed to providing customers with real added value by developing innovative solutions that have reduced environmental impact across their full life cycle. This is the objective of the Group’s eco-innovation policy.

Protecting the environment in the Group’s operations requires constant commitment and continuous attention. Saint-Gobain’s teams are focused on achieving the objective of zero environmental accidents and a minimum impact on the environment.

Building sustainable Saint-Gobain premises 

Saint-Gobain has strong environmental management systems, allowing it to reduce energy consumption and the environmental footprint of processes. Its ongoing environmental efforts include waste minimisation and reduced consumption of raw materials, as well as the management of natural resources, such as water.

Waste management

The Group takes action to reduce waste impacts to the minimum, both in its plants and during product shipment.

For example, at the Saint-Gobain Gyproc plant in Zimbabwe, product returns and non-conforming plasters are reworked by feeding them back into the plant. Paper waste is sold to a recycling company. Scrap metal is sold to a metal company in Harare.

Waste separation is done at source in various waste bins. This separated waste is taken to an internal dumping site, then later transferred to the relevant designated municipal dumping sites.

Water usage control

Saint-Gobain has been active in water preservation projects for several years. One of these is the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, of which the company is a signatory. This is a unique public-private initiative designed to help companies to develop, implement and disclose water sustainability policies and practices.

Saint-Gobain uses water primarily in chemical reactivity processes, such as the setting of plasters in board. It recycles water internally, which notably reduces demand.

Significant interventions in the last few years have resulted in tighter controls over water consumption across Saint-Gobain sites:

- In South Africa, Saint-Gobain Gyproc tested its FireStop board – the board deemed to use the most resources – and identified that large amounts of water were used in its manufacture. This resulted in discussions on how to recycle water in the plant.

- At the Saint-Gobain Gyproc plant in Zimbabwe, a water harvesting project is being developed to collect rain water, which will then be used for gardening.

Electricity savings

In 2013, the Saint-Gobain Gyproc warehouse in Brakpan (South Africa) extended its roads to improve safety and truck turnaround times.

As loading can extend into the night and power outages were affecting customer service, a decision was made to install solar lights on this new section of the road. An impact study revealed a payback period of just two months.

It also highlighted that traditional lights would require the installation of 1 km of copper cabling, as well as transformers. The 17 solar-powered LED lights each have their own UPS, which can keep the lights on for between three and five days during inclement weather.

Solar lights will also be installed at the Saint-Gobain Gyproc plant in Zimbabwe. This will help the plant to cope with the national power shortage in Zimbabwe.

Raising biodiversity as a priority

Saint-Gobain takes measures to limit its impact on eco-systems and optimise its use of natural resources.

Biodiversity takes priority when dealing with land issues. Saint-Gobain will not mine where there are endangered species or where the land may not recover from its activities.

Saint-Gobain has a land rehabilitation policy that dictates that disturbed land used to mine raw material (mainly gypsum) has to be revitalised and, to the best of its ability, returned to its original state once mining is complete.

To read more: Biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape (South Africa)

Did you know ?

Saint-Gobain recycles 50 per cent of water at its mines.