Sustainability 2019 cover 3840

Connections for a better world

Sustainability

We are committed to addressing the key issues of our time through innovations that help to reduce environmental impact. Through partnerships, we strive to provide leadership in sustainable solutions for the mutual well-being of both people and the planet, while ensuring the long-term viability of our operations.
Value creation model desktop

Our approach

Our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability team is responsible for driving our sustainability strategy. The Executive Committee and the Board of Directors oversee the strategy and the Executive Committee approves any updates to our sustainability strategy.

Partnering to prioritise

In 2017, we conducted our first materiality assessment to determine most significant environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts and opportunities for us. 18 key sustainability topics emerged out of this assessment.

In 2018, we aligned the identified material topics with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the next years, we have prioritised four SDGs as areas on which to focus our sustainability investments and develop differentiation: Clean Water and Sanitation, Climate Action, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Decent Work and Economic Growth. These four SDGs currently have the highest impact on our business but they also represent areas where we can create the highest positive impact on society through our products, services and processes.

In 2019, we continue the work and set relevant targets for chosen themes.

Operating principles

Being a global company with a presence in 30 countries and products sold in close to 100 countries, we take the utmost care to maintain our corporate ethics and integrity, and fair employment practices across our entire value chain. We provide transparency, fairness and equal opportunities to our employees, our future talent pool, and our customers, partners and investors. We comply with local laws and regulations and our Code of Conduct and other group-wide policies form the foundation for our operating principles.

You can explore our public policies by clicking the links below:

Code of Conduct

Diversity statement

Supplier Policy

Quality Environmental Management Policy

In 2018, we introduced an anonymous web-based reporting channel called WhistleB which can be used by employees to report unethical, illegal or otherwise incorrect activity.

Taking action to reach our goals

Quality water
The environment and water are central to the innovative solutions we develop. For example, Phyn Plus, the new smart home device resulting from the joint venture between Uponor and the consumer electronics company, Belkin, alerts homeowners the moment a leak is detected and mitigates damage by shutting off the water.

The key factor in drinking water hygiene is preventing the growth of unwanted substances and living organisms. Our closed loop installations and automatic flushing units keep water flowing and avoid stagnation at all times. Additionally, our pipe technology and design methods help to keep the water temperature below 25°C and prevent cold water delivery pipes from warming up, while our heat interface units generate hot drinking water on demand.

We have also been actively working on the challenges presented by storm water for many years. Uponor Smart Trap collects 100% more sediment than traditional sand trap chambers. Its renovation module can be installed in existing chambers, thereby avoiding the use of additional resources.

Uponor Water Monitoring Services is a service concept for municipalities’ potable water distribution network monitoring. It keeps track on water flow, direction of flow and water quality. Furthermore, leakages are identified and water quality deviations are indicated as alarms or event reports to the network owner.

In order to improve our water efficiency, all of our production sites use a closed-loop water circulation system for extrusion cooling purposes.
Circular economy
Uponor’s environmental topics are covered by Quality Environmental Management Policy. Internal and external audits are conducted on a yearly-basis to ensure enforcement of the Quality Environmental Management Policy. Based on information provided by suppliers, all Uponor products and systems comply with the requirements of the European REACH regulation. While North America does not have a REACH regulation of its own, Uponor follows the EU regulation throughout the company, when appropriate. Discover more about REACH here.

In order to transition from a take-make-waste economy to a circular economy, we focus on innovation. At a minimum, an idea must support one innovation driver and one of our corporate commitments (e.g. sustainability, health and comfort) to qualify for further consideration in the innovation pipeline. We continuously strive to create innovative solutions that help to create more comfortable, safe and eco-efficient buildings. For example, we are developing innovations related to recyclable packaging systems and alternative resins, among others, to promote circular economy.

We aim to reduce waste to landfill. Waste from our production sites and our use of materials have low potential for generating “hazardous waste”. In a typical year, less than 1.5% of our total waste is hazardous. Hazardous waste is recycled by our contracted, certified disposal companies, making the total waste quantity low at the end of the life-cycle.
Responsible value chain
We emphasise equal treatment, and promote safety and well-being of our employees. The health and safety of our employees is a management priority and we are striving towards zero accidents. We also expect our employees to contribute to our occupational safety and health goals in a manner that aligns with their responsibilities. Employee health and safety topics are covered by the Quality Environmental Management Policy.

We also strive to ensure installer health and safety at the work site. For example, the PEX pipe offers installers a durable but lightweight solution that is much easier to carry than metal pipes and eliminates the risk of fire at a worksite. Additionally, our patented fitting systems enable connections to be made in seconds, eliminating dangerous solvents and joining chemicals so that installers can breathe freely without inhaling toxic fumes.

As set forth in our Code of Conduct and frame purchase agreements, our suppliers are expected to meet Uponor’s ethical, social, environmental and quality standards, and comply with the applicable international and national laws and regulations. We evaluate and audit existing and new suppliers according to these principles. Our Corporate Responsibility principles require that all products and services sold under the Uponor brand are sourced according to practices which uphold internationally accepted standards. Our aim is to ensure that environmental, ethical, social, and health and safety issues, as well as labour practices, are not separate add-on features, but are embedded within all of our sourcing processes.

Our people strategy is based on three main themes: leadership, talent and culture. With the people strategy, we aim to ensure that we attract and retain the right talent to support our business goals under good leadership and a high performance culture. We provide each employee with a variety of opportunities to support their continued development through on-the-job learning, learning from others and more traditional methods, such as classroom-based studies and eLearning. Furthermore, we strive to provide unique career paths and offer leadership development programmes as competent leaders are the key to the successful execution of our strategy. These programmes run every year with invitation-based participation.

We respect human rights and follow the guidelines of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are a responsible employer and support equal opportunities for our employees. No discrimination is allowed. We do not allow child or forced labour or engage suppliers that do so. We strive to provide fair compensation as well as a safe and healthy workplace for all employees.
Climate action
We consider the environmental aspects of our product offering and continuously aim to reduce the overall impact of our business operations. We have 18 manufacturing facilities globally and their key environmental impacts are greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water usage. Our target is to reduce scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 20% per net sales by 2020, from 2015 levels.

We are striving to increase our internal energy efficiency and to reduce costs by focusing on employee behaviour, production processes and the supply chain. As of 2018, 14 manufacturing facilities have been ISO 14001 certified and seven facilities ISO 50001 certified. The plan is to have all sites certified under ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 by 2020.

We strongly support the development of legislation and policy that reduces the environmental impact of products and technologies used in the construction industry. In 2016, we became a member of the Finnish Climate Leadership Council. We have also been a founding member of the Stockholm Water Prize since 1995. Through participation in national, European and global standardisation work, we are also helping to drive local and international legislation.
Sustainability table of key figures

Partnerships and networks

The starting point of our operations is to provide value for our customers and partners. We focus on long-term cooperation, providing a reliable partnership, and offering solutions that enable customers to thrive in their businesses. The ultimate goal is to partner with other professionals in creating better human environments. Collaboration and forming partnerships is also the basis of our approach to promoting sustainability.

We work with branch and trade organisations to influence local and international policymakers on topics related to energy, health and water. Such organisations include The European Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (TEPPFA), Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) in North America and REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations). We also work with US organisations such as Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Leading Suppliers Council, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition and Earthshare as well as national Green Building Councils and the globally operating World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In 2017, Uponor Corporation became a member of FIBS, a corporate responsibility network for businesses and organisations in Finland. In September 2018, Uponor became a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact. Additionally, one of our employees currently holds a board position on the World Green Building Council as well as represents Uponor and the plumbing and heating sector on the CEN-CENELEC Industry Advisory Forum (IAF).

Furthermore, we annually organise conferences and events at which planners, architects and other professionals discuss various industry-related themes. In North America, we organise a convention every two years to educate customers about our systems offering. In April 2018, Building Solutions – North America held its 10th Uponor Convention in Las Vegas with close to 2,000 participants. The convention is designed for professionals who install, design and specify PEX plumbing, radiant heating and cooling, hydronic piping as well as pre-insulated piping systems, with a focus on innovation, education and advocacy. In Central Europe, we organise an annual Uponor Congress for German-speaking plumbing and heating industry professionals. In 2018, the congress celebrated its 40-year anniversary and focused on such topics as digitalisation, BIM, Smart Home and energy efficiency in drinking water hygiene.