E/D/E understands the buying association business as inherently sustainable. This is because a central infrastructure, such as the one E/D/E offers its members, creates efficient economies of scale and organisation for the individual, generates synergies in the entire process chain and bundles resources. Sustainability is closely linked to SME values such as continuity over generations and local commitment in the social and community environment.
In its third generation, sustainability remains an outstanding value of the E/D/E Group, with which we align our efforts and from which a spirit of intrinsic motivation and self-commitment arise to take responsibility for the environment, employees and society – beyond what is required of us by the law. Our central concern here is to develop the association with foresight and to secure the future viability of our partners. We want our sustainable actions to have an impact that makes a difference. Our entrepreneurial success and our sustainability activities are mutually dependent prerequisites. This attitude has guided us as a family business for more than 90 years. Together with the E/D/E Foundation, we have been supporting a wide range of projects for decades that are close to our hearts, and that contribute to the most diverse aspects of sustainability. Also in 2022, E/D/E, its members and the E/D/E Foundation supported numerous local institutions and completed several sustainable projects.
Sustainability is firmly anchored in E/D/E’s DNA and business model. This is because the buying association business in the cooperating SME sector is characterised by an inherent, natural form of sustainability due to various aspects – this is also reflected in SME values such as thinking and acting across generations, continuity and regionality,as well as social responsibility, especially in their own home regions. We strive to pool resources and services, connect partners and apply competitive concepts to ensure that our medium-sized companies and family-oriented members are fit for the future. In order to achieve this, we offer a reliable and central infrastructure that provides E/D/E members with economies of scale and organisation and reduces individual activities in the overall system. As a result, E/D/E members reduce their environmental footprint and the holistic system achieves a better sustainability outcome. But our sustainability claim goes even further – we demonstrate this in various initiatives and with our activities. Our actions are guided by six topical areas:
We made progress in all areas in 2022
We expanded the “Services for members and suppliers” on the topic of sustainability. Examples of this include our analysis and consulting services ECO-Consulting and our cooperation with the German Institute for Sustainability and Economics. In doing so, we accompany our members on their path to sustainable entrepreneurship. In tandem, we consider the market requirements and attitudes of our partners with regard to sustainability, in order to develop market-relevant services together with our members, partners and suppliers, which enable a differentiating market positioning of our members.
Within the discipline of “ecologically sustainable processes”, we pay close attention to pursuing a sustainably-oriented building management approach. Existing buildings, for example, are retrofitted in a sustainable manner, and the issue of sustainability is always taken into account in new buildings and conversions. We also deal with energy, water and emissions management. In the course of participating in ÖKOPROFIT, a consulting and qualification programme for sustainable management, we analyse our resource consumption, in order to eliminate waste, reduce our necessary consumption and identify potential for recycling and circular economy. Since 1st January 2022, we have been sourcing 100 percent green electricity, thus helping to minimise our CO2 footprint. Since this year, we have been shipping our parcels in a 100 percent CO2-neutral manner, together with our long-standing partner UPS.
The health of our employees is a matter close to our hearts. Therefore, we have introduced the “JobRad” and the digital health day in the topic area “Responsibility for employees”, which will be implemented going forward on an in-person basis, and should help to bring health into the focus of our employees. In addition, the project “Das gesunde Büro” (“The Healthy Office”) was launched, using treadmill desks and active office furniture. Staff can use this at any time in our Collaboration Hub. In addition, we sensitise our employees to the range of topics related to sustainability. With our apprentices and students pursuing a dual study programme, for example, we have started a biodiversity project on our premises. The aim: to provide shelter, feeding places and plants, as well as to create a biotope around the E/D/E site to give wildlife and insects a home. In this way, E/D/E wants to make a contribution to curbing what is essentially an exponential rate of extinction affecting certain species, as well as increasing biodiversity.
We fulfil our “social responsibility” through our involvement in numerous charitable projects. In the E/D/E Christmas Wish Star Campaign 2022, our employees made it possible to fulfil 220 children’s wishes from two Wuppertal children’s and youth centres by donating money or goods. Together with our staff, we also supported the people in Ukraine. In addition to donating E/D/E warehouse products such as bandages or batteries, we have provided various organisations in Ukraine aid with donations of money and goods.
Through the targeted funding of education, the charitable E/D/E Foundation makes a valuable contribution to the sustainability of the industrial B2B sector. Over the past 17 years, the Foundation has approved more than 500 scholarships for professional development at the ZHH-Bildungswerk, including more than 30 in 2022. Together with the University of Wuppertal, we are taking part in the Deutschlandstipendium programme led by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, for the seventh year in a row. With the funding, we not only support the students financially, but also want to accompany them in their first steps into professional life and create opportunities to make contacts and build a network.
In the area of “Networks and Partners”, it is important to us that we network, exchange and learn from each other in an ecosystem for sustainability. We are, therefore, expanding our cooperation with important partners such as the MITTELSTANDSVERBUND (ZGV), the Zukunftskreis Nachhaltigkeit HOCH3, ÖKOPROFIT or the Klimaverbund.
With regard to the “Regulatory Requirements”, we constantly fulfil our legal obligations in order to operate in a legally compliant manner. In the area of sustainability, this concerns, for example, the Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act (LkSG) and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
In order to meet the increased demands of coordinating and networking the various individual initiatives on the topic of sustainability across E/D/E, sustainability needed to be anchored organisationally. For this reason, the Sustainability Unit, to which the Sustainability Officer is assigned, was introduced on 1st January 2023. The Unit, which reports directly to the Chairman of the E/D/E Management Board, acts as an internal and external point of contact and coordinator for sustainability issues at E/D/E, helping to shape the framework for the development and implementation of sustainability activities. The responsibility for the subject-related projects remains with those responsible for the corresponding subject areas. This ensures professionalspecialisation and functional differentiation. The newly installed Sustainability Communication and Advisory Platform, and the Sustainability Officer, perform a central coordinating role, thereby structuring initiatives and creating transparency.
Sustainability is always considered in all our decisions. For 2023, we are taking up our performance from the previous year in the E/D/E. Above all, we will consolidate the organisational anchoring of the topic. We will continue to develop E/D/E’s sustainability positioning and integrate it into the E/D/E vision for the future. We constantly consider the impulses and requirements on the topic of sustainability from the market, and reliably develop our service portfolio and our processes for our members.