Sustainable production

Minimizing the environmental impact of our ceramic production is vitally important for Wienerberger. This includes a responsible way of operating our clay extraction sites, energy efficiency, reduced fresh water consumption, climate protection, increased use of recycled materials and renaturalization of former clay pits.

Clay, a natural and recyclable material – supporting regional business

Clay is a natural raw material, which is extracted locally. That way clay building materials do not have to be transported over long distances. Brick and tile production creates jobs and the entire value chain remains in the region.

In harmony with nature

Wienerberger pays special attention to the protection of the habitats of endangered animals and plant species as well as rare and fragile eco-systems during the extraction process. Resource conservation during clay extraction and the remediation of depleted extraction sites are equally important. There are various possibilities of restoring depleted sites for other uses, such as agriculture, a natural biotope, or conversion into recreational areas. If possible, Wienerberger opts for renaturalization of former clay pits; as such areas often provide valuable alternative habitats for endangered animals and plants, they support biodiversity.

Slideshow ceramic 3 streets Amsterdam

Best practice example from the United Kingdom

Many of the UK production sites are listed as nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or are designated locally as sites of ecological and/or geological significance. These sites are managed to maintain and promote biodiversity. Our management techniques include: mowing of meadows to maintain grassland habitat and prevent succession to shrubbery. This promotes the growth of wildflowers and herbs which in turn support a variety of insects and small mammals.

Best practice example from France

In France, Wienerberger is involved in a reforestation program. Between 2015 and 2016, 84 acres of land have been reforested and more than 60,000 trees have been planted  at our production sites in Aussigné and Jaugnières, both located in Durtal in the West of France.

Best practice from the Netherlands

Since 1922, Wienerberger Netherlands is actively involved in the “Living Rivers” project of the World Wildlife Found. Areas that were once used to extract clay are returned to nature.

Approximately 5,000 hectares have already been given back to nature or to sustainable land management organizations. This holds true for the following areas: Millingerwaard at Nijmegen, the Blauwe Kamer at Rhenen and the Steenwaard in Pannerden.

Energy efficiency and climate protection

Most of the energy used in ceramic production is thermal energy (natural and liquefied gas or oil), which is required to heat the tunnel kilns. The heat released during the cooling process is recovered and recycled into the drying process. Electrical energy plays a minor role in ceramic production. We are exploring the possibilities of substituting alternative fuels for fossil energy sources. Wienerberger implemented the CBME Energy Award to support the efforts of our employees with an internal price.

Best practice example from France

At our Wienerberger brick production site in Achenheim, France, thermal energy consumption has been reduced by 13.5% through the use of heat exchangers in the production process. This was achieved in 5 months. Waste heat, which still features a temperature of well over 200 °C, is used as a source of energy and re-utilized in the production process. Thus, both natural gas consumption and CO2 emissions are significantly reduced.

Water consumption

In our ceramic production fresh water consumption and waste water disposal do not exert significant pressures on the environment as many of the Wienerberger plants have introduced closed waste water cycles. Waste water is collected in tanks, treated and returned into production.

Best practice example from Belgium

A zero discharge (waste water free) production has been implemented in all Belgian plants. All waste water is reused by means of the internal water treatment system. Therefore the overall water usage is drastically reduced.

Windmill
Recycling centre. CVAE, 1 place de la porte de Pantin 75019 PARIS. Brick Terca Emaillée Blanc.

 

Waste management and recycling

Nearly all the waste resulting from ceramic production is non-hazardous. It is separated, collected and recycled or disposed appropriately. The quantities of hazardous waste, e.g. oily rags, are very small.

Internally incurred production waste, such as broken or defective products, can be reprocessed and recycled in our production. External recycling materials are used as additives for certain product groups and generally processed together with the raw material mix during preparation. Recycling materials from biogenic sources (sawdust, paper fibres, sunflower hulls, etc.) are also used as pore-forming agents in clay blocks. Recycling is part of our very plant management strategy.

Robot lifting blocks

Learn more about the production process