Less is more


Practise what you preach: ista stands for the optimum use of valuable resources – and what applies to our core business also applies to our own processes. We considerably reduced our paper consumption in particular in the reporting year.

Firmly anchored

The idea of sustainability is firmly anchored in ista’s vision. Our Environmental Guidelines oblige each one of us to commit to spreading this idea and filling it with life: our top management, our senior managers and our employees. At operational level, the international Sustainability Council, headed by the environmental consultant, is responsible for making sure we achieve our environmental objectives. The newly established Sustainability Steering Committee sets the strategic framework.

Understanding our own consumption

In 2015, a total of 14,336 gigajoules of heating energy and 8,068 gigajoules of electricity was used in the German branches. The office buildings accounted for most of this consumption. The production site in Au was responsible for 17% of total heating energy consumption and the logistics warehouse in Gladbeck for 13%. The figures for electricity were 24% and 7%, respectively. Fuel consumption makes up the largest share of total energy consumption. Due to the nature of our business, the paper required for producing the bills is the biggest item under material consumption.

Saving energy

In 2015, 22,659 gigajoules of electricity were consumed at ista branches worldwide – therefore we managed to not only cut our consumption of electricity per employee but also in absolute terms. At 27,173 gigajoules, consumption of heating energy from gas, oil and district heat rose compared with the previous year (2014: 22,054 gigajoules). The reasons for this are: firstly, the amount of office space used by ista increased by roughly 6% during the reporting period, which partly explains the higher consumption. Secondly, we were unable to match the low 2014 consumption as it was due to a particularly mild winter.

Vehicle fleet energy consumption rose in absolute terms in the reporting period as a result of a higher number of kilometres travelled by our company car fleet, rented vehicles and private vehicles – the use of rented vehicles in particular increased in 2015, which is reflected in the sharp rise in fuel consumption. Per-capita energy consumption for electricity, heating and fuel increased from 29 to 30 gigajoules.

To us, it is particularly important to involve all employees in the implementation and execution of these measures and, at the same time, to assign clear responsibilities.

Professionalising energy management

Energy-saving measures are being implemented at ista’s sites throughout the world. For example, employees in China are assigned to office areas and are told the consumption of their area every month. The office area with the lowest consumption is crowned the “energy-saving office area of the month”. ista Germany and ista International in Germany started to introduce an energy management system in accordance with the EN ISO 50001:2011 standard in 2015.

With these measures, we not only want to meet the statutory requirements but also reduce energy consumption in the long term and increase energy efficiency in a continuous improvement process. To us, it is particularly important to involve all employees in the implementation and execution of these measures and, at the same time, to assign clear responsibilities.

Consumption of electricity and heat within the organisation

Energy consumption


2015  2014 
Gigajoule Gigajoule
Electricity consumption 22,659  23,115
Total heating energy 27,173  22,054*
– of which gas 17,182 14,482*
– of which heating oil 126 211*
– of which district heat 9,865 7,361*

*The previous year’s figures have been restated in the light of new information.


Energy consumption of vehicles within the organisation

Energy consumption
2015       2014    
Litres Gigajoule   Percent
(of GJ)
Litres Gigajoule  Percent
(of GJ)
Fuel company fleet 2,537,824 90,878   2,468,699 88,393
– of which diesel 2,371,942 85,304 94% 2,303,173 82,831 94%
– of which petrol 165,882 5,574 6% 165,526 5,562 6%
Fuel rented vehicles 181,863  6,455    69,447 2,491
– of which diesel 145,810 5,244 81% 66,508 2,392 96%
– of which petrol 36,053 1,211 19% 2,939 99 4%
Fuel private vehicles 117,447  4,146    106,093 3,735
– of which diesel 84,582 3,042 73% 75,326 2,709 73%
– of which petrol 32,864 1,104 27% 29,706 998 27%
– of which LPG 1,061 28 0.7%

*As LPG consumption in past years was only an estimate, we have decided this year not to include it in the figures.


Cutting emissions

In 2015, direct and indirect CO2 emissions – caused by heating energy and electricity consumption as well as business trips and paper consumption – increased minimally in absolute terms. However, we managed to slightly reduce them per employee. Of the total figure of 15,973 tonnes, the company car fleet (7,960 tonnes), air travel (2,434 tonnes) and electricity consumption (2,350 tonnes) together account for the largest share of emissions. We achieved CO2 emission reductions in electricity consumption  (180 tonnes) and in paper consumption (59 tonnes). Our employees also travelled less by air in 2015 (365 tonnes).

Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of CO2 equivalent)

Absolute changes compared with 2014

Greenhouse gas emissions in tonnes of CO2 equivalent  
Heating energy +362  ↑
Company cars + 218  ↑
Electricity -180  ↓
Transport +18  ↑
Paper consumption -59  ↓


Eco-friendly travel

Although absolute consumption of diesel and petrol increased in 2015 as a result of the expansion of business, we cut average consumption to 6.13 litres per 100 km. In 2014, consumption was still 6.6 litres. Car-sharing initiatives are reducing the number of unnecessary trips at various ista locations throughout the world including the United Arab Emirates and Austria. We also introduced a car-sharing app at head office in Essen in 2015. In addition, we set up a video conferencing system to reduce the number of business trips and thus cut costs and CO2. In Belgium, Spain and Norway, we use hybrid and electric vehicles.

A new travel policy tailored to our objective of saving resources has applied to ista employees worldwide since 2014.

A new travel policy tailored to our objective of saving resources has applied to ista employees worldwide since 2014. Alongside operational expediency and cost-effectiveness, ecological aspects must be continually reviewed and taken into account. In concrete terms, this means, for example, that train journeys are to be given preference over air travel. Long-distance business trips using Deutsche Bahn trains are CO2-neutral for ista as a business customer. Moreover, before booking a trip, employees are required to examine whether communication using modern technologies, such as Internet telephony, can replace a meeting. In 2015, ista employees on business trips covered some 56 million kilometres worldwide by car, train and plane. At 45.9 million km, trips by company, rented and private cars accounted for most of this total distance (some 83%). We reduced our air kilometres by 13%. Our core business involves trips to tenants by car. Thanks to remote digital readings, we have already managed to reduce the number of such trips but not avoid them entirely.

Changing to recycled paper

Our paper consumption fell to 441 tonnes in 2015 – in 2014, it was still 467 tonnes. At the same time, we increased the proportion of recycled paper used from 13% to 55%. In Germany, we changed over our entire printing process to certified Steinbeis Innojet paper in 2015 and already achieved a percentage of recycled paper of over 90%. The advantage: roughly three times less water and energy is used for recycling used paper than for producing virgin pulp paper without any new trees having to be felled. Throughout the company, paper consumption is highest for production paper at 263 tonnes. In 2015, we already printed bills on the new recycled paper in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Other national organisations are also taking steps to save paper and increase the percentage of recycled paper. They range from new, resource-saving printers in Denmark and the Netherlands to the “paperless office” in the United Arab Emirates, Norway and China.

Paper used by weight – percentage of materials used that are recycled input materials

Paper consumption 2015   2014  
Kilograms (total)  Percent
Kilograms (total) Percent
Total 440,640  466,573
Printing and copying paper 97,995 136,972
– of which recycled 24,483 25% 60,313 44%
Production paper 263,404 240,005
– of which recycled 196,118 74% 434 0.2%
Share of recycled paper in printing and copying paper and production paper 220,601  61%  60,747 16%
Notepads 3,965 2.908
– of which recycled 2 0% 101 4%
Envelopes 33,150 40,213
– of which recycled 21,170 64% 1,407 4%
Marketing materials 42,125 46,476
– of which recycled 12 0% 32 0.1%
Total recycled paper  
241,785  55%  62,287 13%


Conserving water resources

Water consumption fell from 43,487 m3 in 2014 to 33,748 m3. This sharp reduction is due to better data. For example, markets which still had no water consumption data available in 2014 were able to record water consumption for some of their sites in the reporting period and therefore it was possible to calculate country-specific average figures in more cases. As a result, the accuracy of the estimates increased. The consumption figures are, in some cases, estimated extrapolations based on prior-year and average figures. This is partly due to the fact that some utilities bill after the reporting deadline and partly because non-consumption-based tariffs apply. We at ista use water for sanitary purposes and as drinking water. In 2015, we withdrew our water exclusively from the public drinking water supply.

Total water withdrawal by source

Picture credits: grasundsterne, gettyimages