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CSR

Circular economy and
zero-waste production

The VELUX Group applies circular economy thinking where growth is decoupled from the use of scarce resources.

Our efforts to apply circular economy thinking and zero-waste production support UN Sustainable Development Goal 12, i.e. to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

We use the ReSOLVE framework developed by the Ellen McArthur Foundation as an inspiration to describe our work with circular economy and zero-waste production. In some areas, we have already come a long way. Other areas are new and we are paving the way as we go, while constantly seeking to learn and improve.

Regenerate (shift to renewable energy and materials)

We support the shift towards increased use of renewables. In our production, we work to replace fossil fuels with renewables in our production, notably bio-boilers that use waste wood from production to produce hot process water.

In our sourcing of raw materials from external suppliers, we take care to address sustainability. Today, 98% of the wood used for VELUX windows comes from certified, sustainable forestry. This means that no more wood is cut down than the forest can reproduce.

Share (prolong life through maintenance, durability, upgradability)

VELUX windows are made for a service life of 40 years or more. Our windows are modular for easy replacement or upgrade. Our products are backwards compatible and it is possible to upgrade and prolong the lifetime of a window for instance by adding an energy blind or replace the window itself without impacting the surrounding roof.

Optimise (increase performance and energy efficiency)

A window is one is the only building component that can have a positive energy balance due to the solar heat gain through the pane. Our life cycle analyses document that VELUX windows can be CO2 net positive throughout their life cycle. VELUX windows with shutters and/or blinds can help optimise the energy balance of the building.

Loop (remanufacture and recycle)

We apply closed-loop, zero-waste processes at our production sites. Today, 97% of the waste resulting from our activities is recycled or used as renewably energy. Waste wood, for instance, is sold and used for poultry bedding and particle boards.

Virtualise (take advantage of digitalisation and connectivity)

In close cooperation with external partners, we are developing the next generation VELUX Active product range. The active windows open and close automatically according to ambient temperatures, humidity, etc. to increase energy efficiency and improve indoor comfort.

Exchange (replace and improve)

Our solutions are always backwards compatible to ensure that they are easy to replace and upgrade – for instance panes, electronics, blinds and shutters. We guarantee availability of spare parts for at least 25 years.

We contribute to circular building projects

Green Solution House is a new conference centre and hotel situated on the Danish island of Bornholm. Green Solution House was designed and constructed so all materials used are either fully recyclable or bio-degradable, eliminating waste throughout their life cycle. The VELUX Group was strategic partner in developing the Green Solution House, contributing daylighting concepts and solutions ranging from VELUX Modular Skylights to roof windows with solar shading and sun tunnels.

At the London Design Festival 2016, the VELUX Group collaborated with Arup and other leading building specialists to explore how circular economy principles can be applied to design and construction of buildings. Among the topics explored were easy disassembly, pre-fabrication and use of recyclable materials.

Zero-waste at VELUX factory in Hungary

The VELUX factory in Hungary is one example of how waste is turned into value in close cooperation with its surroundings – the so-called Industrial Symbiosis. For instance, 100% of the wood waste is used for renewable energy or recycled as raw materials that other companies can use.

Today, the recycling rate at the Hungarian factory including all waste fractions is close to 98%, but they want to improve further.

“With recycling of the major waste fractions – wood, glass and metals – in place, we move on to focus on the mixed, household waste from our facilities. We have recruited a couple of students from environmental studies at the local university. Over the summer, they will help us analyse the mixed waste and find ways to sort and recycle as much as possible,” explains HSE Manager Lajos Varga.

Hungarian companies have been first movers in waste separation and recycling, which has now been extended to the public sphere and private households. There is a great motivation among employees at the factory to contribute to increasing the recycling rate.

“We have nominated people in charge of environment and energy in each factory team. They are trained to help improve and discover new ways to generate less waste and new ideas to become better at sorting and reusing,” says Lajos Varga. To increase the employees’ awareness of the possibility to reduce and reuse waste, the factory also organises waste collection events, where the employees voluntarily help collect and sort waste in public spaces, for instance in the local city park.

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