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Waste and Water

  • SAP continues to reduce our global e-waste.
  • We invest in technology for the composting and recycling of organic and other waste.
  • We increase efficiency by using gray water and by installing waterless restroom fixtures.

Creating a Global Approach to Recycling E-Waste

Taking steps to recycle our waste and save water contributes to both our environmental and business performance, as we keep waste out of landfills, reduce our operational costs, and engage our employees in our efforts.

While we seek to reduce all types of waste – from the food in our cafeteria to the paper in our printers – our single largest source of waste comes from the IT equipment, PCs, peripherals, and range of mobile devices that we use to develop our software. A sustainable procurement program complements our waste reduction efforts by offering sustainably produced IT equipment. Despite the significant growth of the company, we were able to reduce the ratio of laptops or PCs per user to a ratio of 1.09 (approximately 90,000 devices in use) in 2015 compared to a ratio of 1.18 in 2011. To ensure quality, our software must be tested on multiple devices and on different platforms leading to laptop or PC user ratio greater than 1.

In 2015, we continued our engagement with one of the world’s most sustainable companies as our e-waste disposal partner. This partner adheres to ISO 14001 standards and ensures that we have one uniform disposal process for e-waste. In addition, we support the reuse of “gently used” IT equipment internally if applicable through used equipment shops in some countries (in Germany and the United States). All other used equipment is resold or recycled in an environmentally friendly manner depending on the condition of the equipment (recycling quota for Germany: 99%).

Composting and Recycling Our Organic and Other Waste in Locations Worldwide

In addition to e-waste, we estimate that we generated approximately 18 kilotons of waste in our offices, cafeterias, and product packaging worldwide in 2015 (2014: 12 kilotons).

To reduce this waste, we run comprehensive recycling programs for our offices and cafeterias. For example, we process leftover food in our Walldorf headquarters in an external composting plant. The SAP Labs location in Bangalore, India, has installed an “organic waste converter” to recycle organic waste from its larger food services and cafeteria operations into odor-free, homogenized compost. At SAP offices in Palo Alto, an externally certified zero waste management system led to a landfill diversion rate of nearly 100% of the entire waste produced and significant savings over the past three years. At SAP offices in Dublin, California, applying the same leading practice resulted in 95% waste diversion near the end of 2015. The SAP office in Vancouver is now approaching 81% waste to landfill diversion using the same leading practices. SAP America headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, is currently in the zero waste program development. As our zero waste practice proved successful, we continue to roll it out and transfer these experiences to all our other sites across the globe as part of our ISO 14001 program across SAP, starting in North America.

Beyond recycling, we try to use more sustainable materials in our business. For example, while we seek to encourage electronic download of our software, we package our software compact discs in cardboard and paper instead of plastic when customers request a physical disk. By end of 2015, employees in our EMEA locations only use recycled paper, and we are seeking to expand the availability and use of recycled paper globally. From 2009 to 2015, we have reduced our paper usage by almost 25% through a global printing optimization initiative that, among other improvements, sets our printers to a default setting for double-sided printing and black-and-white printouts instead of color.

In 2015, we continued our rollout of a new secure pull printing system on devices in public printing rooms that started in 2014. Employees must bring their ID badges to the public printing room to activate a job – thereby heightening awareness and adding a step to the printing process. At the end of 2015, we finished the global rollout with more than 56,000 employees using this secure pull printing method. Since Q3/2014, our printing volume has been reduced by 13.7 million pages. A printing dashboard – available to all SAP employees – shows the company’s progress in reducing paper consumption on global, regional, and country levels. 

In 2016, we plan to pilot an employee mobile app that will give employees their personal carbon footprint. The app will provide key figures such as number of printed pages or total gas consumption of a company car. We expect this will further create awareness towards the employees and will support the effort of changing working behaviors to act even more sustainable.

Using Gray Water, Installing Waterless Fixtures, and Applying Other Efficiency Efforts

While our operations are not water-intensive, we continue to use water as efficiently as possible. We estimate that we used approximately 1,060,000 cubic meters of water worldwide in 2015 (2014: 972,000 cubic meters). As part of our efficiency efforts, we use rain and run-off water for irrigation and toilets in Walldorf, Germany, and other office locations. In some of our offices in Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States, we have installed waterless restroom fixtures, flow restrictor valves, and reduced-flush or dual-flush toilets. For example, at SAP Labs in São Leopoldo, we reduced 37% of potable water consumption, optimizing sewage treatment operation when compared to 2014. A few of our offices are located in areas with significant water scarcity. In locations such as Ra’anana, Israel, or in Bangalore, we address this issue with dedicated water management efforts that range from sound water management and reuse of treated sewage water to employee awareness campaigns.

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