Sustainability Blog

Welcome !

We are pleased that you are interested in our activities in the field of sustainability. Our aim is to provide you with insights into our current projects, campaigns and measures relating to the topic of sustainability with regular and exciting contributions on this blog. As a specialised manufacturer of PPE products, we are faced with very special challenges in this area.

Feel free to check back from time to time for the latest updates and to see what HB is currently working on in the area of sustainability and what measures are being taken to promote sustainable and responsible action and to contribute to a future worth living.

19.02.2024

Introduction of the HB sustainability strategy

Sustainability issues such as environmental protection and social responsibility are currently becoming increasingly relevant, whether due to social paradigm shifts or the implementation of new regulations and legislation. At HB, we recognise the global challenges we face and take responsibility for society and the environment. With the introduction of our new sustainability strategy, we are committed to taking environmental, social and economic aspects into account in our daily activities and integrating them into our business practices.

 

Our sustainability strategy is based on the results of an in-depth materiality analysis, which we reported on in detail on our blog last year. With the help of this analysis, we identified the key topics for us and then prioritised them. These identified key topics were given particular consideration when developing our strategy.

 

Communication of the strategy to our employees is currently ongoing. We began by explaining the new sustainability strategy in detail during our sales force meeting at the beginning of February this year. Shortly afterwards, all managers and other people in relevant positions were trained. At these meetings, the understanding of sustainability at HB was communicated, our holistic approach was explained and, of course, the goals we have set ourselves as a company were presented.

 

In addition, all other employees are informed about the newly developed sustainability strategy via a company letter. This ensures that all employees are familiar with the goals and measures and can actively contribute to them. This is important as every single employee plays a key role in realising our sustainability goals. Only through collective commitment and collaboration we can make significant progress and shape a sustainable future for our company, our communities and our planet.

 

In the near future, you will have the opportunity to find out more about our sustainability strategy on our website. Keep an eye on our Sustainability section under the Company tab from time to time. There we will also inform you about the contents of our new sustainability strategy.

08.02.2024

THE HB MANUFACTURER INFORMATION IS NOW ALSO AVAILABLE AS A QR CODE ON THE LABEL

The EU Commission has taken an important step towards sustainability by giving a positive signal regarding the use of a digital manufacturer information. In the recently published edition of the PPE guidelines  "PPE Regulation Guidelines (3rd edition - October 2023)", the point requiring the paper version has been revised. In the new edition, the paper version is no longer mentioned exclusively as the chosen medium for the manufacturer information to be delivered along products.

HB Protective Wear has long been campaigning for the approval of a digital manufacturer information and more flexible approach in the legislation. Even before the new PPE guidelines were published, HB decided to include a QR code in addition to the printed paper version in all new articles produced from January 2024 onwards. It leads to the digital manufacturer's information, which the PPE wearer can call up at any time if the paper version has already been disposed of. 
HB has been making the manufacturer's information available for download in numerous languages on its website for many years.

 

As the current regulation does not provide sufficient legal certainty, it is unfortunately not yet possible to replace the printed version completely. However, we hope that the legal basis will now also be created so that the paper version of the manufacturer information can be dispensed with completely as soon as possible. This would be a necessary and overdue step towards greater sustainability, as several hundred thousand tons of paper are used every year for the printing of manufacturer information leaflets.

23.01.2024

Participation in the newly established ETSA Sustainability Task Force

On 11 January 2024, the kick-off meeting of the new Sustainability Task Force of the European Textile Service Association, in short ETSA, took place, in which we participated as a manufacturer of personal protective clothing and therefore as a supplier of large textile service providers. ETSA, which set up the task force, is an association whose main task is to promote the interests, priorities and concerns of the textile service industry both at EU level and at the level of local and regional governments as an effective representative body. This is done in close co-operation with member companies, including HB, and national associations.

 

The newly established task force plays a significant role for ETSA members for various reasons. On the one hand, it offers support regarding the demanding reporting mandates of the European Commission as part of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). On the other hand, it contributes to meeting the increased requirements of the European Commission in the context of achieving the legally binding targets of the Climate Pact and thus also in the broader sense of the Green Deal. In this context, the kick-off meeting provided an initial platform for discussing both the sustainability roadmap and relevant European legislation such as the CSRD.

 

In addition to the Sustainability Task Force, we also participate in the PPE Working Group of the ETSA, which we had the honour of welcoming to Thalhausen at the end of last year. At this meeting, the role of ETSA and the industry's efforts regarding the EU Climate Pact and the EU Green Deal were discussed. These approaches will now be further deepened in the Sustainability Task Force. We are therefore looking forward to the next meeting.

10.01.2024

Renewal of our sponsorship for the conservation of the green sea turtle

We are returning from our company holidays with a good rest and full of motivation and would like to start by wishing you a happy and successful new year.

 

At the beginning of the year, we are pleased to announce that we have once again extended our sponsorship of a green sea turtle with the TURTLE FOUNDATION. With this sponsorship, which has been in place for many years, we are supporting a project in Indonesia in which the TURTLE FOUNDATION, together with local rangers, runs a protection programme for sea turtles aimed at protecting the turtles' nests from egg looting.

 

The symbol of the sea turtle has a special meaning for HB Protective Wear, which is why it plays a key role in our company. Whether as a permanent part of our company logo or as a TURTLE-TESTED® test stamp on the inside of each of our finished parts. For us, the turtle symbolises durability, protection, adaptability and resilience - just like our clothing, which, like the shell of the turtle, reliably protects the wearer. Because of this symbolism, it is important to us to make our contribution to protecting the green sea turtle and its habitat.

 

Through the TURTLE FOUNDATION itself, we regularly receive news about the protection of sea turtles. For example, we received news of the great success of the past nesting season on the Indonesian island of Sipora. From October 2022 to May 2023, a total of 3,047 hatchlings found their way safely into the sea. We are proud that we were able to contribute to this success with our sponsorship and the accompanying donation.

20.12.2023

Focus on longevity

The pre-Christmas period in particular is often characterised by excessive consumer behaviour. However, by making more conscious purchasing decisions with a focus on longevity, we can make a significant contribution to ensuring that our consumer behaviour is not at the expense of our environment, rather that it can continue to be preserved for future generations.

 

So that we at HB Protective Wear GmbH & Co. KG can also be part of this, we attach particular importance to the longevity of our products throughout the year. It is important to us that we can make the product life cycle of our protective clothing as long as possible. Right from the development and manufacturing stages, we ensure that the products are both repairable and have good physical textile properties, such as high wash resistance and abrasion resistance. We also provide our customers with care recommendations to help maximise the service life of the products. Our efforts should therefore not only benefit our environment, but also contribute to conscious and sustainable consumer behaviour.

 

With this last blog post, we would like to say goodbye as we head off on our company holidays. The entire HB team wishes you and your families a Merry Christmas and a healthy and successful New Year. We look forward to keeping you informed about HB's progress towards a sustainable future in the coming year with our sustainability blog.
 

08.12.2023

Review of an eventful year and outlook for 2024

The year 2023 is slowly drawing to a close. We are taking some time to look back and reflect on how the topic of sustainability has developed over the course of this year. 
2023 began with an expansion of the sustainability team in order to be able to efficiently process the ever-increasing and increasingly important requirements from legislation and our customer base. In the first half of the year, we took a close look at the material sustainability aspects on which we have the greatest influence as a company. We created our materiality matrix based on the assessments of customers, suppliers, employees and banks. We then used this to develop a strategy for HB Protecitve Wear, in which we define the path we want to take and the focus we want to set as a manufacturer of protective clothing for a more sustainable future. We will kick off the new year 2024 with the internal publication of our sustainability strategy.

 

In the second half of the year, we focused on the requirements of ISO 14001, as certification in accordance with this standard is planned for the end of next year. Compliance in the field of sustainability was also a topic that we dealt with intensively, as various laws were passed, draft laws formulated and guidelines launched over the course of the year. In many webinars and seminars on the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, the Green Deal, deforestation-free supply chains, the Digital Product Passport and a number of other legal provisions, we learnt about requirements and developed approaches for implementation. We already reported on the implementation of the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act on 23 August 2023 in our sustainability blog, as well as on the introduction of an internal reporting channel as part of the Whistleblower Protection Act on 26 September 2023.

 

In addition to the administrative tasks mentioned above, the focus throughout the year was on conserving resources. In addition to the measures implemented at our headquarters, such as the construction of a photovoltaic system and charging stations for the newly purchased electric cars or the switch to printer paper made from 100% recycled paper, measures were also implemented for our products. In addition to the longevity of the products, the use of sustainable material alternatives was a particular objective. The new articles, which are labelled with our sustainability logo, the turtle with a green leaf fin, were presented at the A+A trade fair at the end of October.

 

We will continue to implement measures to improve sustainability in various areas in the upcoming year 2024. First and foremost, however, we are starting the new year with the implementation of our sustainability strategy in order to give all employees in the company a direction in which we want to go together. This will be followed by various projects to collect data, such as calculating our carbon footprint and implementing measures. We look forward to seeing what the new year will bring. As usual, you can follow our sustainability activities here via our sustainability blog. We look forward to the challenges ahead and are excited about a more sustainable future.

22.11.2023

OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 - The basis for products that are safe for health

As can be recognised by our brand promise be safe. we care., safety is our top priority. Safety is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to products such as personal protective equipment. It is not only important that the wearer is protected from hazards in the workplace, but also that the clothing itself is safe. The OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 label provides a good basis for this, as it stands for both textiles that have been tested for harmful substances and a high level of product safety. Before this label is awarded, the products are tested for numerous substances that could be harmful to human health. The certification finally confirms that the product is free of such harmful substances and is therefore safe and harmless to health.

 

In order to be able to guarantee the safety of our products in terms of harmlessness to health, we prefer to source raw materials and ingredients that are already certified according to the OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100. This means that, in addition to outer materials and linings, accessories such as yarn, buttons, zips, ribbons and labels have already been tested and certified in accordance with OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 before being processed into PPE.

 

Where possible, we always have our finished garments certified again in accordance with STANDARD 100 in order to ensure that our products are safe for the wearer. A PPE garment is excluded from OEKO-TEX® certification, for example, if individual ingredients cannot be certified according to this standard, even if the majority of the basic materials used in a garment are certified according to OEKO-TEX®. However, our aim is to be able to certify as many products as possible in accordance with the STANDARD 100.

09.11.2023

Change to more sustainable printer paper

Around 200,000 sheets of paper are printed at HB Protective Wear every year. Previously, we used paper made from virgin fibres and labelled by the retailer as wood-free and elemental chlorine-free. This paper is also certified with the EU Ecolabel and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®). This means that wood from FSC-certified forests or recycled material as well as material from controlled sources is used in the production of the paper. According to Greenpeace, however, the terms wood-free and elemental chlorine-free bleached do not indicate environmental friendliness. Wood-free paper is simply made from a cellulose pulp instead of wood pulp, which means that the paper does not yellow as much. However, pulp is also obtained from wood. The designation wood-free therefore does not contain any ecological statement. Similarly, no such statement is made for elementary chlorine-free bleached paper. This only means that elemental chlorine is not used to bleach the paper. However, other chemicals containing chlorine may be used instead.

 

For this reason, we took a closer look at the sustainability claims of various paper manufacturers and came to the conclusion that, in terms of the environmental aspect, we would only consider paper with the label "Blauer Engel" (Blue Angel). The "Blauer Engel" label places the highest demands on paper. Harmful chemicals may only be used to a limited extent or are completely prohibited. In addition, 100% recycled paper must be used. Recycled paper made from 100% wastepaper generally has a lower environmental impact. We can therefore achieve savings by switching to this more sustainable type of paper. No new wood is required in paper production, which helps to reduce the consumption of resources and also significantly reduces water and energy consumption in production. This can also reduce CO2 emissions. With this in mind, we have now placed our first order for the new paper, which features the label "Blauer Engel" on its packaging, and will set this as a standard for future orders.

24.10.2023

Sustainable fibre alternatives in our new products

At the A+A 2023 trade fair in Düsseldorf, we are currently presenting our latest developments at our stand G 32 in Hall 10. Among them, we are also presenting some new products that focus on the use of sustainable fibre alternatives. These products can be recognised by the addition of "Green Turtle" in the collection name and by the turtle with a green leaf fin, which we use to identify all sustainable products in our range.

 

The CONDUCTEX® Green Turtle collection is one of these sustainable new developments. In addition to the standard version, the ESD coats are now also available with a sustainable material composition consisting of 75% recycled polyester, 23% organic cotton and 2% carbon. The cotton is partially organically grown and is certified according to the Organic Blended Content Standard OCS Blended. The recycled polyester is also certified according to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and was made from PET bottles collected in Europe.

 

The Flammgard® KLASSIK collection is also being expanded to include sustainable products under the addition of the Green Turtle. As a useful addition, this collection now also includes shirts, blouses and polo shirts, which we are presenting for the first time at the fair. The polo shirts in men's and women's styles are made of 100 % recycled polyester and are each produced from approximately 44 PET bottles. This material is also GRS certified due to its recycled content. Instead of recycled polyester, the shirts and blouses are made from 100% organic cotton, which is certified according to GOTS and Bluesign.

 

For some time now, you have also been able to find in our catalogue the heat protection shirt from the HB-PROtection® collection made of 100% organically grown cotton, which is certified according to the Organic Content Standard OCS 100, as well as the fleece neck warmer from the cold protection range. The latter belongs to the Tempex® Thermo Accessories collection and is made of 100% recycled polyester, which, like the other products, is certified according to GRS.

 

In the future, we will continue to expand the sustainable products in our product range. Whenever possible and not limiting the protective performance of the products, sustainable fibre alternatives such as recycled polyester and organic cotton will be used. At this year's fair, we are showcasing that this is possible and are taking an important step towards a more sustainable future.
 

19.10.2023

Start of the second internal training block 2023

As an employer, we place great value on continuously training our employees and expanding their expertise. For this reason, HB Protective Wear has two training blocks every year for which our employees can register internally in agreement with their superiors. We started the second training block of this year last week on Friday with a training course on textiles, which among other things covered the differences between woven and knitted fabrics. Other contents that will be dealt with in the upcoming internal trainings are topics such as the PPE regulation, standard requirements and the application and use of software programmes. The exact contents of the training courses are always adapted to the needs of our employees, so that the content taught is exactly what the participants need for their work.

 

By participating in our internal training courses, we offer our employees the opportunity to expand their skills and knowledge in their field of expertise or in new areas. The newly acquired knowledge often allows them to make new connections to their own field of work, thus developing an even more comprehensive understanding of their own job. Since our employees train each other during our internal trainings, an exchange of knowledge and experience between colleagues occurs, which promotes teamwork and creates a pleasant working atmosphere. Another positive effect is that knowledge is shared within the company and thus preserved. We consider the internal trainings an essential part of our commitment to our employees and are pleased that many have signed up for the trainings again this time.

11.10.2023

corporate risks

Systematic examination and evaluation

Starting Q4 2023, we are again conducting our risk analysis with regard to our overall corporate risks. Risks can be all influences that may have unplanned effects. Risk analysis is an important part of governance for us at HB Protective Wear, as it serves to identify potential risks and take appropriate measures to manage these risks. For this reason, we always conduct a regular analysis at the beginning of each quarter. The aim is to be able to guarantee our customers permanent availability and high quality of our protective clothing. In the analysis, risks from different areas of the company such as production, procurement and sales are systematically considered and evaluated. Process risks as well as risks concerning the geographical location are also analysed.

 

In terms of methodology, we base our risk analysis on the examination of risks using a risk possibility and influence analysis (RMEA). The identification, description, evaluation and assessment are carried out by a defined group of people. This group is made up of employees from the different areas that are considered in the analysis. The RMEA enables us to assess the probability of occurrence, the expected level of damage and the probability of detection of a risk on the basis of quantitative and qualitative company information. Thus, this provides a solid basis for taking action to avoid, mitigate, transfer or - if not otherwise possible - accept the identified risks.

26.09.2023

The implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act at HB

The EU Whistleblower Directive came into force in 2019 and was subsequently transposed into national law. Since the middle of this year, the Whistleblower Protection Act has been in force in Germany. We have now completed the implementation of the law at HB Protective Wear with a series of training sessions for our employees.

 

The Whistleblower Protection Act offers improved protection to persons who have obtained information about violations in the course of their professional activities and report them. It obliges companies with more than 50 employees to set up an internal reporting system through which violations can be reported, if desired also anonymously. For this purpose, HB Protective Wear has set up a software tool that all employees can access and submit reports quickly and easily. With the possibility of submitting a report anonymously, we offer additional protection for those in the company who do not dare to submit specific tips due to fear of reprisals. All employees should have the opportunity to contribute to ensuring that we as a company operate ethically and in accordance with the law.

 

As part of the implementation process, we also see it as our responsibility to educate our employees about their rights and obligations as whistleblowers. For this reason, we have held four training sessions to explain to our employees what whistleblower protection means and to create awareness of what kind of indications of possible violations can be reported. This measure is intended to give our employees more confidence to report violations and to promote an open corporate culture.

 

The introduction of the Whistleblower Protection Act is an important step towards transparency and trust. We hope that any violations can be identified and remedied at an early stage and will continue to work on integrity and compliance.

12.09.2023

Resource conservation

sustainable action for a better future

Many natural resources that we use every day are finite. Just think of water or fossil fuels. If we continue to consume at an excessive and irresponsible rate, we face a future in which these precious resources will become scarce. Especially against this background, the conservation of resources is an important focus topic for us at HB. To ensure that we, too, contribute to a development that meets the needs of today's generations without compromising the ability of future generations, we implement various measures within the company.

 

At HB, the conservation of resources runs through all levels and begins for us with the sensitisation of our employees, for example in terms of waste separation and energy saving. This is additionally supported by targeted measures such as motion detectors, an energy-efficient heating system, the construction of a photovoltaic system and the conversion of the vehicle fleet to electric cars. In the meantime, 38% of our vehicles have already been successfully replaced by cars with electric motors.

 

In logistics, too, we have long been actively committed to conserving resources by using reusable PP boxes for shipping between our production facilities and our headquarters in Thalhausen. Our goods are then also stored in these boxes. In this way we save packaging material. Cardboard and plastic, which are still produced, are always recycled and reused. In addition, we optimise our transport routes through collective transport to our production plants, which not only reduces emissions but also conserves resources. Furthermore, we mainly work with companies that are located in Europe or in the European region, which means that transport routes can be kept as short as possible. Shipments to customers are usually handled in a climate-neutral way.

 

Of course, we also work on the product itself to save resources. Here, there is the additional challenge that achieving the required protective properties is always given priority, as protecting the wearer has the highest priority. In order to find suitable resource-saving materials, we are intensively engaged in finding alternatives. At the same time, we have imposed on ourselves to reduce the use of harmful chemicals such as fluorocarbon and to keep it to an absolute minimum. In the production of our products, the reduction of resources is also specifically implemented through efficient cutting.

 

23.08.2023

The Supply Chain Due Diligence Act - Responsibility and transparency along our supply chain

The Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) came into force in Germany on 01.01.2023. This law includes compliance with human rights-related prohibitions, such as the prohibition of child labour, but also compliance with environment-related prohibitions, such as the non-environmentally friendly handling of waste.

 

Initially, companies with a workforce of 3000 or more will be affected by this law, and from January 2024 it will apply to companies that employ 1000 or more people. HB Protective Wear GmbH & Co. KG is therefore not directly affected by the LkSG. Nevertheless, we have made the strategic decision to comply with our human rights and environmental due diligence obligations within our supply chain and to analyse, minimise and, if possible, eliminate all associated risks. In order to be able to meet the requirements, we have decided to cooperate with the company retraced. With retraced, we digitally map our direct supplier network and process our due diligence tasks through it.

08.08.2023

Materiality analysis 
-what is important for us in terms of sustainability

For our materiality analysis, we have identified 25 different fields of action in the areas of environment, social and governance on which we have a direct or indirect impact with our business activities. These fields of action are based on the ESG criteria of the European Union. Ten of these fields of action are in the area of Environment, seven in the area of Social and eight in the area of Governance.

 

In order to be able to identify which of these 25 fields of action are of material importance to HB, meaning of essential significance, we sent out a questionnaire to 115 stakeholders, consisting of customers, suppliers, employees and banks, in the second half of 2022. The results of the questionnaires were subsequently summarised in a matrix. Based on this matrix, the most important topics were prioritised.

 

The resulting focus areas for HB are climate protection and -neutrality, energy, resource conservation and sustainable material alternatives. We want to deal with these topics as a matter of priority. However, the topics of circular economy and waste management are also of high importance to the interviewees and should therefore also be prioritised. The same applies to the topics of employees, human and labour rights in the supply chain, fair wages, occupational health and safety and also quality and product safety, which are highly relevant for HB.

 

The results listed here are now being used to develop a sustainability strategy for HB. This will help us to improve our sustainability activities in a structured way and to address sustainability issues in a focused manner.

20.07.2023

Our understanding of sustainability

HB Protective Wear is a medium-sized, owner-managed company is the best possible way: personal, high-performance and predictable. In addition to desirable safety, we offer our customers high-quality and durable products. As a manufacturer of personal protective equipment, we are first and foremost required to provide our customers with the necessary protection against sometimes fatal hazards in the workplace. However, we not only make an important contribution to safety in the workplace, but as part of global society we also bear a responsibility that goes far beyond our products: for people, society and the environment - both internally and externally.

 

For this reason, we have been taking the ecological, economic and social consequences of our actions into account in all our business decisions from the very beginning. It therefore comes naturally to us to contribute to the well-being and sustainable development within the scope of our possibilities. True to our brand promise "be safe. we care.", we see it as our task to combine the required safety with the sustainability of our products and our actions in the best possible way. We understand sustainability as a development that meets the needs of today's generation without compromising the ability of future generations. We assign the various sustainability topics to three pillars: Environment, Governance and Social.

 

For us, ecological sustainability begins with raising the awareness of our employees, for example, for topics such as proper waste separation and the thoughtful use of resources and continues with a commitment to the protection and preservation of sea turtles within the scope of a turtle sponsorship with the Turtle Foundation. For us, environmental protection means acting sustainably with a view to future generations on a viable planet.

 

We are convinced that good and far-sighted management in combination with planning that is compatible for all sides as well as concepts that are sustainable in the long term are an essential prerequisite for lasting success. In this sense, we build long-term business relationships and strive for sustainable growth in cooperative partnerships.

 

We see our social responsibility not only in our company, but also beyond. Offering employee benefits as well as high-quality training opportunities for young people is a high priority for us. At the same time, we regularly assess the compliance with social standards along our value chain to ensure that we meet our own high standards.

 

With activities and measures in these three sustainability areas, we are able to make our workflows and processes at HB more sustainable and gain a fully comprehensive view of our actions in ecological, economic and social terms.

 

From now on, we will inform you about our sustainability activities in this blog and report on which topics we are working on, which measures we are introducing and how we are moving step by step towards a sustainable future at HB.