At a glance

  • The Schaeffler Group’s goal is to optimize the use of resources beginning in the product’s design phase
  • The Refuse, Rethink, and Reduce strategies were incorporated into the Green products initiative in 2023

Strategic framework

Part of NFRThe Schaeffler Group pursues a variety of measures such as circularity strategies to minimize CO2e emissions – for example, by optimizing product design to reduce the use of resources in production. These follow the fundamental idea of using raw materials, components, and products repeatedly and for as long as possible. Where economically feasible, the Schaeffler Group is making an effort to exploit the potential of material efficiency, reduce its use of critical and rare raw materials, extend the ­service life of its products, and enable product repair. The Schaeffler plants pursue the usual waste hierarchy in their own production: avoid, reuse, recycle, recover energy, and disposal. Scrap waste, such as iron, aluminum, and copper, is also directly reused in production or nearly 100 % recycled. 

The Executive Board is regularly informed about progress in the area of circularity through the “Sustainability & Engagement” subprogram. The topic is further supported by the Central Technologies and Corporate Development & Sustainability Strategy departments.

The Schaeffler Group’s circular economy strategy is based on the “R-Strategies” and is continuously optimized. The “Refuse”, “Rethink”, and “Reduce” strategies were further incorporated into the Green products initiative in the reporting year and are pursued in a variety of projects. In addition, ongoing and additional divisional projects reinforce implementation of the “Reuse,” “Repair,” “Refurbish,” “Remanufacture,” and “Recycle” strategies defined as a focus in 2022. Material utilization in production was also further improved, and material flows analyzed in greater depth for the purpose of optimizing scrap utilization. Unlike in the prior year, R-Strategy energy recovery (combustion) was excluded in accordance with the guidelines recommended in the EU Taxonomy. Through the circularity strategy, the company has increased its focus on the potential of retaining materials in the cycle rather than recovering heat from combustion. 

The Schaeffler Group’s activities cover eight R-Strategies:

  • Refuse
  • Rethink
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Repair
  • Refurbish
  • Remanufacture
  • Recycle 1
Circular economy framework

The Schaeffler Group is also looking at reusing products and materials, which offers a wide range of opportunities for new business models. Examples in the area of services include predictive maintenance with OPTIME in the Lifetime Solutions unit as well as the remanufacture of bearings for aerospace and rail applications. 

Steel is the most important resource for the Schaeffler Group, followed by aluminum and plastics, and is primarily used as warm and cold rolling stock, rod and pipe materials, and rough-turned rings. Aluminum is usually used as cast aluminum in housings, while plastics are found in a variety of products such as electrical insulation layers, seals, and rolling bearing cages. Magnets are another important component and are primarily processed for use in motors, but also for use in sensors. The resulting material flows have an impact on the environment due to the use of resources, the production waste generated, and treatment at the end of the product use phase. The Schaeffler Group relies on a variety of opportunities to use secondary raw materials and thus reduces the environmental impact and geographic dependencies associated with the use of resources.

On a product level, life cycle assessments can be used to determine the impact of recycling activities or secondary materials on the carbon footprint. In a variety of projects, the Schaeffler Group aims to use materials with a high percentage of secondary materials as well as adapt product design to promote circularity, which should ensure the best possible recycling rate at the end of the use phase.Part of NFR

Material compliance and hazardous substance management

Part of NFRLike materials, substances used in production also have a major impact on the recyclability of Schaeffler Group products.

To implement its circular economy strategy, the Schaeffler Group has set a goal of observing all relevant guidelines for the materials and substances used and taking these into account when selecting suppliers. Relevant guidelines refers to legislation, public standards, and customer requirements, which are regularly assessed. Material requirements also apply to substances, purchased parts, and packaging as well as to materials used in manufacturing processes and products. To achieve this aim, the Material Compliance department works closely with the Purchasing department responsible for production materials. 

Important criteria and relevant regulatory frameworks for both supplier selection and orders are outlined in the Schaeffler Group’s “Prohibited and declarable substances” standard, which is regularly updated and provided to suppliers – most recently in early 2023. In addition to internal training courses on purchasing, suppliers will also find a range of training courses accessible on the Schaeffler Group website.

All Schaeffler Group activities associated with the use of substances are considered in accordance with forward-looking, environmentally conscious behavior. Processes established for this purpose assess and document information about the substances and compositions of the purchased parts and materials used.

The Schaeffler Group primarily uses the automotive industry’s International Material Data System (IMDS) for declaring substances. This system is required for labeling the substances in purchased products and their materials. In addition, the SCIP 2 database of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been used to declare substances of very high concern (SVHC) since 2021.

The company has its own registration system for documenting the substances used in Schaeffler products and their production. Substances can therefore be traced at any time with tracking.

Material Compliance provides support in the form of information about the “Sunset Dates” 3 of substances as well as systems for declaring materials.Part of NFR

Waste management

100 %

recycling status achieved by eight locations

Part of NFRThe Schaeffler Group’s products are primarily made from steel and only contain trace amounts of harmful substances. They can therefore be melted down into crude steel at the end of their service life.

At all locations that generate more than 25 metric tons of non-hazardous waste or two metric tons of hazardous waste per year, a waste coordinator must be appointed regardless of legal provisions.

In addition to monitoring waste generation, collection, and disposal, this representative’s responsibilities include the development and introduction of low-waste and eco-friendly processes. Providers of disposal services are assessed in accordance with the requirements of the EnEHS (Energy, Environment, Health and Safety) manual. The type and frequency of assessment are dependent on whether the service provider disposes of hazardous waste, scrap, or non-hazardous waste.

The Schaeffler Group aims to avoid waste wherever possible. If waste cannot be further reduced, it should be sent for approved recycling. A total of eight locations have achieved 100 % recycling status so far by sending waste to be recycled in accordance with applicable law. The Schaeffler Group’s goal is to increase the recycling rate to such a degree that no more productionrelated waste needs to be disposed of. Each production site works with the same waste database for global reporting, and to document nearly all waste operations. Categorization for hazardous and non-hazardous waste, for example, corresponds to the definitions prescribed by the countries in question.

Amount of waste generated by the Schaeffler Group
in thousand t

Waste generation, total 1) 2)731741173
Of which non-hazardous waste 1)65766589
Of which hazardous waste 1)747584
Of which waste for recycling 1)689697125
Of which waste for disposal 1)424448
Of which scrap and metals 3)589545
  1. The 2022 value has been adjusted.
  2. Value includes metals and scrap for the first time in 2022.
  3. Values reported for the first time in 2022.

The total waste generated in the reporting year was 731 thousand metric tons (prior year: 741 thousand metric tons) and was therefore around 1.3 % lower than in the prior year. This drop is largely due to the reduction measures implemented with a focus on non-hazardous waste.Part of NFR

1 The topic of recycling affects Schaeffler products (recyclable) and, for example, scrap waste that Schaeffler plants pass on to external service providers for recycling. 
2 The electronic database of the European Chemicals Agency, which contains information about substances of very high concern in complex objects such as products.
3 The date from which a chemical substance is no longer permitted or only permitted in limited quantities. 

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