Sustainability at the Schwabe Group
Our emphasis on sustainability is solidly anchored in the Schwabe Group. As a family-run company, we uphold our many responsibilities: towards a healthy business, the environment and society.
Dr. Willmar Schwabe I, who founded the Schwabe company over 150 years ago, was not only a proactive businessman who represented quality and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. He also kept his focus on the conditions in society around him, and he paid special attention to setting new standards in health care for the poor.
With these principles in mind, the Schwabe Group — then and now — works towards solidly and sustainably developing its business, continuously promoting its employees‘ volunteer work, and supporting the Umckaloabo Foundation so that children and young people in southern Africa can have a good education and future perspectives.
From Nature. For Health.
The Schwabe Group’s motto is also the idea that expresses our corporate group’s sustainability strategy. Plants are the heart and soul of our pharmaceutical products, and they are the first link in our value chain. The quality of the plants we use is crucial when it comes to the quality of the finished product. We want to promote good health sustainably with our medicines and health products. This is of particular importance to us as a family-operated company.
In everything we have already achieved, changed and initiated, we are fully aware that the path towards becoming a sustainable company is never-ending. The challenges, opportunities and framework conditions related to our work are constantly changing. And with them, a company also changes as it pursues its journey towards sustainability.
The three-pillar model of sustainable development
The topic of sustainability fundamentally consists of three pillars: the environment, the economy and social issues. All three pillars are equally important. Each of them, individually and collectively, are an essential part of the company’s sustainability strategy, and they are interlinked. Sustainable development means we work towards being sustainable in environmental matters, economic issues and our social interactions in equal measure, and we implement measures to make this happen.
When it comes to environmental factors, acting sustainably entails using resources only to the extent that we need to. Throughout the entire value chain, we conserve energy and take steps to counteract climate change and a loss of biodiversity.
An economically sustainable company thinks and acts with the long term in mind so that its activities have dependable roots for years to come. As a financially independent family-operated business, we have always managed our affairs pragmatically and with an eye towards the future, and we are solidly positioned.
Social sustainability leads to justice and equal opportunities, both within our company and in society as a whole. At the Schwabe Group, we feel a responsibility towards society on both a local and a global level.
With our Umckaloabo Foundation, we have been supporting educational work in southern Africa since 2010 so that young people there have better perspectives. In addition, we have taken on responsibility in our region as well and promote the work of our employees who are involved in volunteering locally. And as a company with a traineeship program, we are opening up doors to future generations.
Sustainability is in our genes
Our company founder, Dr. Willmar Schwabe, always prioritized solid resource management, offering the utmost quality in manufacturing, and a commitment to social causes. At the Schwabe Group, entrepreneurial action has always meant making decisions that are thoughtful, sustainable and future-forward. The ideas that motivated our company’s founder continue to motivate us today when we as the Group look at sustainability and how we interact with society. Our financial independence allows us the entrepreunerial flexibility to take appropriate actions.
We can only offer premium-quality herbal medicines and health products on a long-term basis if we make sure that in the decades ahead we can continue to sustainably harvest the plants we need. Sustainable cultivation and conservation-oriented gathering of wild plants are essential for us so we can safeguard natural resources and protect the environment. Short-term plans involving environmentally harmful actions are counterproductive to our long-term interests.
Willmar Schwabe I - A pioneer of corporate social responsibility
Our company founder, Dr. Willmar Schwabe, always prioritized solid resource management, offering the utmost quality in manufacturing, and a commitment to social causes. From 1884 onward, he helped support the AOK, the newly founded regional health insurance company in Leipzig.
Starting in the mid-1880’s, Willmar Schwabe began establishing “homesteads,” convalescent homes designed for those in need and located in a healthy environment. This endeavor complemented the holistic approach to health he endorsed and his sense of social responsibility. He ultimately established a foundation bearing his name to provide long-term financial support for three of these homes he had set up.
Willmar Schwabe’s well-developed sense of social involvement was multi-facetted. His charity work included everything from financing treatment for indigent people to supporting poor pharmacy students all the way to making donations to hospitals.
Milestones in sustainability
Since 2009 we have been taking concrete steps to successfully reduce the gashouse emissions we create. On an ongoing basis we have also significantly increased our efforts in achieving climate neutrality.
Our first climate report presented the carbon footprint for the German sites in 2019. Drawing upon the data from a four-year period, we have already been able to implement numerous measures towards the goal of climate neutrality along our value chain.
In 2022 we published the carbon footprint for our global sites in Scopes 1 and 2. These figures are an important milestone which leads to meaningful approaches towards environmentally friendly resource management.
The Schwabe Group’s areas of focus
The Schwabe Group has defined focus topics we initially want to concentrate on so we can make short-term changes with a long-term impact as quickly as possible in the field of sustainability. In addition to climate neutrality, other issues that have been close to our heart for quite some time include sustainable supply-chain management and corporate social responsibility:
Calculating our carbon footprints in the focus area “Emissions and energy” marks a first milestone. We tracked our energy use and the related greenhouse gas emissions for Scope 1 and 2 at the Schwabe Group, and we then identified areas where action is needed and generated the appropriate measures.
Responsible supply-chain management is the second area of focus in the Schwabe Group’s global sustainability strategy. It includes every process along the entire value chain ranging from sourcing raw materials all the way to the customer.
Our social commitment is also part of our sustainability strategy. Our good starting position in the area of social commitment, e.g. through the Umckaloabo Foundation, allows us to pursue ambitious goals in the area of social sustainability.
Within the Schwabe Group, we remain connected through our Sustainability Delegates Network. Here we often discuss a focus area such as our carbon footprint, first discussing the matter in terms of German sites. This approach lets us implement measures locally first and then roll them out globally later.
Our international subsidiaries are also committed to sustainability. They establish their own initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint or give the Group new impulses for its social commitment. We can exchange information with each other and learn from one another in the Sustainability Delegates Network.
Sustainable through innovation
Innovation also has a solid place in the Schwabe Group as a research company. Our ginkgo special extract has long held the status of being one of the most thoroughly researched herbal extracts around the world. This is an approach we feel committed to - for all of our extracts and herbal medicines, of course.
As a financially well-positioned company, the Schwabe Group has a great deal of innovative strength. And having expertise brings a certain obligation along with it: research and development are very important to the Schwabe Group as drivers of innovation.
To this end, we work hand in hand with both academic institutions and start-up companies. As part of the Schwabe Phyto Innovation Challenge, we identify promising approaches to research about herbal extracts and medicinal products, and we cooperate with academic partners to generate further innovative impulses.
Moving forward together
To network with other pharmaceutical manufacturers, the Schwabe Group is also a member of the sustainability workgroup of the German federal association of pharmaceutical manufacturers (Bundesverband der Arzneimittel-Hersteller [BAH]). We exchange ideas with other manufacturers in these groups and give each other inspiration so that together we can develop and promote ideas about sustainability and carbon neutrality in our industry.
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