A tradition for more than nine decades, our careful and thoughtful approach to the environment and its resources draws on the anthroposophic ideas of Rudolf Steiner and is indispensable for Weleda. But our environmental commitment does not stop there. It ranges from issues of biodiversity, through procurement of raw materials, use of natural resources and sustainable packaging, to water and waste reduction and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable use of raw materials
Weleda uses about 1,000 raw materials for medicinal and natural care products and we know that how we source and extract those raw materials has a significant impact on biodiversity. At the same time, we appreciate that only intact natural eco-systems provide soil and conditions of high enough quality to produce our natural raw materials.
That’s why more than 78% of the raw materials we use come from certified organic or biodynamic farming, or from controlled wild collection, a figure we continuously work to increase. This dedication to biological diversity is of the greatest importance to Weleda – without biodiversity there would be no Weleda products.
Environmentally-friendly use of natural resources
As with every company, water and energy are needed in the manufacturing process at Weleda. Our employees are committed to treat these resources with respect and we undergo continual process improvements such as re-using condensed water, which is fed back into the water cycle. Overall, the water consumption per kilogram of the manufactured product was reduced by a quarter (25%) in 2013.
We also work hard to reduce the company’s energy consumption. We can do this in direct and indirect ways – by optimisation of cooling and ventilation systems, reduction in floor and office area, better utilisation of available machines and other measures which improve efficiency. At the same time Weleda is increasing its use of renewable energy. 50.7% of our direct energy and 94.3% of the indirect energy we used came from renewable resources in 2013.
The company's own methods for the biodynamic cultivation of medicinal plants remain strongly traditional at Weleda. Biodynamic agriculture means that farming, livestock breeding, seed production and landscape maintenance are carried under anthroposophic principles.
At all our garden sites – in Europe and around the world – we implement these biodynamic routines to produce excellent quality raw materials at the same time as replenishing and maintaining the land and its numerous living communities, from microbes to wildlife.
Sustainable packaging has to satisfy a range of requirements for us. Of course it has to keep the products safe, but it must also be manufactured from sustainable materials and be recyclable once its packaging life is over. There is currently no ideal solution which meets all of those requirements. While we continue to research future solutions, Weleda endeavours to use packaging which is as sustainable as possible.
In 2012, we founded a cross-departmental team to create new packaging solutions. This resulted in a number of decisions which we implemented immediately – to use as much post-consumer recycled material as possible; to use Forest Stewardship Council certified boxes as much as possible; to switch from metallic foil to colour printing. We are also looking into replacing our iconic blue glass bottles with low environmental-impact plastic which is easier to recycle and more environmentally-costly to ship because of the package weight. Through regular discussions with packaging manufacturers and experts, the packaging is constantly being improved.