Austria’s leading gasket manufacturer honored for publishing innovative environmental statement
KLINGER Dichtungstechnik is Austria’s leading gasket manufacturer. Its registration for the voluntary EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) dates back to 1998. This makes it one of the earliest companies in Austria to sign up. The Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism has in the past already honored its pioneering role in environmental protection. In 2019 the same ministry presented KLINGER Dichtungstechnik with the highest national award for its environmental statement.
EMAS, the voluntary eco-management and audit scheme of the European Union, comprises four important pillars: The environmental policy, the environmental management system, the environmental program and the environmental declaration. The latter is published annually and accessible by the public as well as by other interested parties. It provides key figures on a company’s activities that have an impact on the environment. Amongst others, this includes concrete information on the amount of waste generated, or electricity and water consumed. The corresponding results prove whether a company is improving its environmental protection measures. An environmental declaration typically includes a significant amount of columns that detail reductions, the amount of solvent recovered or CO2 emissions. This makes for relatively “dry” reading. Stephan Piringer, amongst others in charge of environmental protection and safety topics at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik, and Waste Officer Ingrid Stassner addressed this topic. They decided to publish their environmental statement in a newspaper format and were so convinced by the result that they subsequently submitted it for an award.
Highest accolade for KLINGER Dichtungstechnik’s environmental statement
The environmental award is the most important environmental prize that the Federal Republic of Austria can bestow. The corresponding winners are nominated by an expert jury. Their verdict in the case of KLINGER Dichtungstechnik: “KLINGER Dichtungstechnik published its environmental statement in the form of a newspaper. This entices the audience to thoroughly read the publication. Environmental impacts and environmental performance are illustrated to the point. The same also applies to the team responsible for the environmental management system.” The award ceremony took place in the course of the 2019 Green Cooperation conference in June. Federal Minister Maria Patek personally presented Ingrid Stassner, accepting the award on behalf of her colleagues, with the highly-sought recognition at the “Orangerie” in Schönbrunn Palace.
Environmental declaration as a newspaper
Extremely pleased with the jury’s verdict and proud of the award, Stephan Piringer summarizes why a novel approach had to be taken : “Today’s media, especially in the environmental field, are full of data, facts and figures. Simply breezing over them is not the desired outcome. An environmental statement should be something that is actively read. And this is what you do with a newspaper.” The format chosen by the Austrian gasket manufacturing experts bears some resemblance to one of the country’s leading daily publications. “Reading the morning paper is associated by many as a relaxing activity. This is an enjoyable experience that is not necessarily work-related,” says Stephan Piringer. Although it resembles a newspaper, it contains all the mandatory EMAS-related figures. Furthermore, KLINGER Dichtungstechnik’s environmental statement also features articles and contributions from different departments. Interested readers can learn how offcuts are turned into raw material. Or how the company undertakes drills with the auxiliary fire brigade to be best prepared for any situation. A crossword made up of terms featured in the publication is just as much present as is a comic: It illustrates what a world without KLINGER would look like. “Working with this format has many advantages. For example, everybody who contributes to our sustainability and environmental protection activities tells his or her story,” believes Ingrid Stassner. She adds: “Our environmental statement is no longer just the work of one person. It is the result of a cross-departmental team effort that we can all be proud of.”
A word of thanks
Looking back, Stephan Piringer had the following to say: “I would like to thank all our contributors for helping to bring this award home to KLINGER Dichtungstechnik. Ingrid Stassner, however, deserves special thanks: She fully embraced the innovative approach that we had taken for our environmental statement. She believed in the project and saw it through to its award-winning end.”