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REHAU Group: Implementing Sustainability Through Circular Principles’

Plastics are, in many ways, the foundation of modern society; the material is used nearly everywhere. Countless innovations and products around the world would not exist without plastics and the polymer industry. However, the end of a product’s lifecycle often consigns plastics to landfills, meaning the material will go on to negatively impact the environment. With the global population increasing, the amount of waste produced is also rising. If the effects of climate change and global warming are to be overcome, the need for a circular economy has never been more obvious.

Founded in 1948, German polymer company, REHAU Group, is an international, family-led business with a longstanding history of sustainable action. The group has a presence in 170 locations around the globe, with 20,000 employees, and is very aware of the need to offset the effects of climate change. Therefore, it operates with a long-term sustainability strategy.

Since the 1950s, REHAU has worked to close its internal material loops; the company then extended this in the 1980s to external partners. This paved the way to the Group adopting a strategy revolving around a circular economy.

REHAU ensures this through initiatives, partnerships and concepts in addition to its work with material loops and is continually expanding these activities. These include the design and product development phase, the optimization of production – including increasing use of renewable energies – and securing products before they go to landfill; treating and processing them so that they can be restored and given a second life where possible.

Such reuse of old materials causes up to 88% less CO2 emissions than the use of fresh materials within REHAU’s window production.

Partnership and investment are a prime avenue for fostering a circular economy and REHAU utilises such strategies to great effect. By investing in recycling capacities and collection networks throughout Europe for its windows production, REHAU reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfill, while creating employment opportunities in the areas it operates in. An example of this is the purpose-built facility in Runcorn, Cheshire. Here old PVC windows are shredded and granulated – with the granules used to create new co-extruded windows.  

Long-lasting products are an important focus for REHAU, and the company is already ensuring that sustainability is implemented into its very concepts. With their sustainability label, EcoPuls, the company provides documentation for its stakeholders that circular design principles are applied for the good of future generations: Edge-bands for the furniture industry, water filtration systems for civil engineering or profiles for refrigerators are just some examples of where such principles have been applied.

As an industry leader, REHAU promotes sustainable values across its sector. A member of wider groups, such as the Global Compact or the Carbon Disclosure Project, REHAU shows a clear understanding of the importance of collaboration when it comes to influencing sustainability across its industry and beyond.

The world is changing, with digitalisation and globalisation on one hand, and sustainability and regionalisation on the other. This requires more attention from businesses when strategizing for the future. To bring this together REHAU’s New Ventures team has been created to anticipate new trends across the markets, develop digital products and services alongside the loop, while innovating across the company’s circular economic business model.

Simple recycling efforts are no longer enough to ensure sustainability within a company’s operations. REHAU’s focus on optimising its processes and products, while committing to a circular economy and a zero-waste philosophy showcases the group’s industry leadership, and its determination to protect the planet for the generations yet to come. 



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