Swiss Award for the environment

Profitability and sustainability are steadily becoming a reality in many areas. Each year the Business Award for the Environment is awarded to innovative projects that are environmentally friendly and economically viable.

As natural resources become depleted and global warming accelerates, new business models are gaining currency with commercial companies. As a champion of innovation, Switzerland has all the prerequisites for a sustainable and profitable economy.  From construction to food, textiles and transport, sustainable business models across the board hold considerable potential for the economy and the environment. Since 1994, the Swiss Environmental Foundation has been giving special recognition to environmentally friendly companies and projects. "It is essential to put our words into action in order to find solutions for the future and thus combine entrepreneurship with environmental awareness," says Cédric Habermacher, director of the Swiss Environmental Foundation. The three companies to have qualified as the 2020 finalists of the Business Award for the Environment have come up with solutions in the fields of construction, catering and mobility. Here are their ideas, which prove that sustainability can also mean profitability. 


A new kind of mining 

More than 65% of waste in Switzerland comes from the construction sector. But under the rubble of the construction sites lies an untold wealth of raw materials and now construction sites are becoming the playing field for a new kind of mining. Eberhard is a pioneer in the recycling of construction waste, processing around 450,000 tonnes of mineral rubble per year. Using modern processing technology, the company produces secondary raw materials for the manufacture of building materials. Eberhard produces almost 250,000 tonnes of recycled gravel and 100,000m³ of recycled concrete for the construction and civil engineering sectors. This closes the cycle of construction materials, avoids landfill waste, shortens journeys and conserves non-renewable resources. Now all that remains is to promote the use of recycled concrete: currently less than 10% of Swiss buildings are constructed from recycled concrete, but Eberhard is hoping to change that.

Baustelle Eberhard
Baustelle Eberhard

More photos, less waste  

Food waste is a major source of pollution. In total, 52% of the environmental impact of avoidable food waste is attributable to households and the catering sector, 27% to the food processing industry and 8% to businesses. This causes unnecessary CO2 emissions, loss of biodiversity and destructive exploitation of land and water. Kitro, founded in 2017, aims to reduce the amount of food wasted in the catering industry. The company has developed a fully automated food waste management solution that integrates seamlessly into any business set-up and requires no additional staff training or expense. Every time food is thrown out in a kitchen, it is photographed and weighed. Thanks to image processing and deep learning technologies, managers obtain a detailed statistical evaluation of their food waste which enables them to optimise their business.


No more empty lorries 

At the national level, the transport sector is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. In 2018, CO2 emissions from transport amounted to 14.8 million tonnes (excluding international air traffic), corresponding to 40% of Switzerland's total CO2 emissions. What is more, 25% of all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) travelling on Swiss roads are empty, generating unnecessary costs. Pickwings connects shippers of goods with potential hauliers in real time, through its network of more than 4,000 lorries. Hauliers sign up to the service free of charge in order to reduce their costs and optimise the operation of their vehicles, generating up to 25% more turnover from HGV routes. One of the benefits is a massive reduction in CO2 emissions through improved profitability. To date, Pickwings has obviated the need for more than one million kilometres of empty HGV traffic on Swiss roads.


The environment is everyone's business 

Respect for the environment is everyone's business. Companies which minimise their environmental footprint and promote sustainable development play a key role in reducing CO2 emissions and preserving biodiversity, reflecting Switzerland's commitment to the climate and nature at the national and international level. "The Business Award for the Environment is an inspiration for Switzerland, acting as a spearhead for change," says Doris Leuthard, president of the jury. 

The Business Award for the Environment is sponsored by the Swiss Environmental Foundation in partnership with the Go for Impact association, which includes the Federal Office for the Environment, economiesuisse, öbu, Swissmem and the WWF. The 2020 prize will be awarded on 17 September in Interlaken on the occasion of 'CE2 – Circular Economic Entrepreneurs' day, the new platform of the Swiss Economic Forum, where the three finalists will present their solutions to the public. In addition to the prize money of CHF 25,000, the winner will be invited to present their solution at SHIFT Switzerland 2021.

Die Schweiz für die Umwelt