Environmental Sustainability in Operations

Many of our innovations and technologies are developed in collaboration with external partners and customers to contribute to environmental sustainability. In recent years, Oerlikon started implementing operational processes and systems that can help to reduce the impact of our business on the environment.

Strengthened efficiency is key to our overall strategy for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Some initiatives at our sites&nbps;include replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting or operating pumps for heat recovery to reduce the amount of fossil fuel required to heat service water.

We have established our next targets as we continue striving to contribute to sustainability. By 2030, we intend to implement energy management systems at all Oerlikon sites, use energy derived exclusively from renewable resources and achieve climate neutrality in 100% of our operations.

GRI 302-1,4

In 2020, we reduced energy consumption by 4.6% within our organization as compared to 2019. This reduction was due to our energy saving actions and to the overall lower operational activity as a result of COVID-19.

We have a system in place to obtain and gather the amount of energy consumed at our sites across the Group. We see the potential to improve the system for better consolidating the reductions of energy consumption achieved as a direct result of conservation and efficiency initiatives. We have therefore started implementing energy management systems at our production sites. In addition, we have been looking into implementing renewable energy solutions, where locally possible, to optimize our energy footprint.

Today, a large number of Oerlikon sites, including all Oerlikon Metco production sites and more than 20% of Oerlikon Balzers’ production facilities, have environmental management systems in place that are certified in accordance with ISO 14001:2015. Most of Oerlikon’s sites in Germany also have ISO- 50001-certified energy management systems in place. At our main larger offices, we have implemented smart or green building technologies or introduced energy-saving measures where technically possible and where local conditions permit.

For instance, at our Vadodara site in India, we installed solar panels on the roof of a service station in October 2018. In 2019, these solar panels generated more than 40% of the total annual energy that we used at the site, and in 2020, more than 50% of the energy used was solar power. These panels not only increase the usage of renewable energy but also resulted in thousands of dollars in energy cost savings.

Energy consumption within the organization Unit 2020
Electrical power GWh 302.5 313.2
Natural gas GWh 41.1 38.9
Heath & cooling bought GWh 21.2 25.9
Gasoline & Diesel GWh 19.5 24.0
Other energies GWh 5.7 6.6
Total energy consumption GWh 389.8 408.6

Water and Effluents
GRI 303-1,3 (2018)

Our operations do not require the use of significant amounts of water for production or processing. Thus, water consumption is not an area of sustainability in which operational modifications can make a notable improvement over current usage levels.

We currently measure water discharged and see the potential to improve the quality of data collected. We will continue to implement measures to reduce water usage and waste in all our operations. For example, the Oerlikon Balzers site in Jinan, China, has installed a wastewater recycling line, resulting in the reduction of clean water consumption by over 70% (> 70 metric tons/year). We have also upgraded the former ultrasonic cleaning process to a new plasma cleaning process at our site in Suzhou, China, which has allowed us to save 30 metric tons of wastewater per year.

Water withdrawal Unit 2020
Third-party water withdrawal thousand m3 698.6 700.2
Surface water thousand m3 5.7 11.8
Groundwater thousand m3 2.1 4.1
Sea water thousand m3 0 0
Produced water thousand m3 0 0
Total water withdrawal   706.4 716.2

GRI 305-1,2

Reducing Consumption and Emissions

The industries we supply recognize the importance of working toward becoming more carbon neutral, and they depend on our innovations to support them in achieving their environmental goals. Internally, Oerlikon is committed to make our operations climate neutral by 2030.

Another example is the switch to electric and hybrid cars for sales representatives and for the pickup and delivery of tools from and to customers, as well as the installation of electric charging stations at all Oerlikon Balzers’ service centers.

Our indirect emissions are mainly due to electricity bought for all sites, heat bought at only a few sites and cooling bought at a handful of sites. Our direct CO2 emissions stem from the combustion of natural gas and oil for heating purposes, emissions from diesel and gasoline for vehicles (private use excluded) and hydrocarbon gases for specific production processes such as thermal spray and welding. Gases like H2 or acetylene that are used in the Oerlikon Balzers’ thin-film coating processes become part of the surface and are not combusted. Since these gases do not react with oxygen, they are not considered as a form of energy (but rather process gases) and therefore do not generate CO2 and are excluded from the emission measurements for the environmental metrics reporting.

In measuring our CO2 emissions, we follow the GRI-defined unit, which is the CO2 equivalent. However, compared to a number of other industrial companies, we do not use F-gases in our production processes. For example, we do not use the SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride) gas, which is an insulating gas for electrical equipment. These gases are considered much more damaging greenhouse gases than CO2 with a negative impact of about 22 000 times that of CO2. Thus, our CO2 emissions can be considered “real” CO2 emissions and not CO2-equivalent emissions (as it would be the case for SF6 for example).

Emissions Unit 2020
Direct CO2 emissions (Scope 1) kilotons CO2 eq 13.7 14.9
Indirect CO2 emissions (Scope 2) kilotons CO2 eq 132.6 143.0
Total Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions kilotons CO2 eq 146.4 157.9

GRI 306-1,2,3 (2020)

GRI 306 (2020) is effective for reports or other materials published on or after January 1, 2022. At Oerlikon, we would like to begin reporting according to this newly defined GRI today.

As natural resource scarcity and constraints escalate, there is greater scrutiny from regulators, communities and society with regard to the efficient use of these resources. This will continue to change the operating landscape for many of our customers.

At Oerlikon, we feel certain that the future of sustainability lies in circular economy innovations, regenerative practices and advanced recycling management. We are therefore increasingly adopting circular approaches to improve our environmental performance. We intend to implement action plans to significantly decrease the use of hazardous materials, preserving scarce raw materials and minimizing waste. More importantly, we are also enabling our customers across multiple industries to pursue these targets by providing them with products whose innovations include efficiency in terms of their environmental footprints.

Waste Unit 2020
Hazardous waste kilotons 9.6 11.6
Nonhazardous waste kilotons 10.7 11.3
Total waste generated kilotons 20.4 22.9

By 2030, our goal is to be more circular and to reduce the amount of final waste disposed by Oerlikon by 50%.

To achieve our 2020 hazardous waste goal, multiple units across Oerlikon worked to recycle or recover waste streams for reuse. For example, at the Oerlikon Balzers ePD site in Suzhou, an ethanol cleaning and regeneration unit has been installed, reducing the consumption of fresh ethanol by more than 70%.

Our internal operations also generate non-hazardous waste such as plastics, metals, organics and paper. We have implemented several programs to reduce, reuse and recycle office furniture and other non-hazardous materials, including by making donations to nonprofits and schools, and we are engaging our employees in recycling efforts. In addition, we have begun implementing circular solutions so that our waste streams can be used as raw materials in other industries.

We accept the responsibility as well as the opportunity to continuously improve the environmental and social performance of our product offerings and internal processes.



Thomas Schmidt

Head of Group Communications