Responsibility towards the environment, the climate and resources

Most of the environmental impact of electronics products is generated during production and operation. However, stores can also reduce the impact in many different ways. Media-Saturn has set itself the goal of becoming a trailblazer in the protection of the environment, the climate and resources. In this effort, the group of companies with its sales brands adopts high standards of resource protection, minimises its waste and reduces energy consumption at its stores. Additionally, Media-Saturn chooses sustainable packaging solutions, thereby also making it easier for its customers to shop more sustainably.

Recycled shopping bags

Saturn Ingolstadt (Foto)

Media Markt and Saturn stopped handing out free plastic bags throughout Germany at the beginning of 2016. Both sales brands offer their customers reusable PET bags as a more environmentally friendly alternative, for which customers have to pay. The bags are made of 85 per cent recycled material and can be exchanged for new bags at any Media Markt or Saturn store free of charge. The recycled PET bags of Media-Saturn are not only visually appealing, but also offer considerable environmental advantages compared to conventional shopping bags. Unlike paper bags, they are sturdy and water-resistant. According to the organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe, even a cotton bag has to be used ten times more often than a reusable PET bag in order to be as environmentally friendly in terms of carbon emissions.

For this reason, Media-Saturn Deutschland GmbH signed up to the voluntary commitment of the German Retail Federation (HDE) in 2016. This stipulates that shopping bags only be made available for a charge. The switch resulted in an approximately 85 per cent reduction in the number of shopping bags handed out in financial year 2015/16 compared to 2013. This equates to around 60 million bags annually at Media Markt and Saturn Germany. The Media-Saturn group of companies aims to reduce the overall use of plastic bags internationally by 70 per cent by the end of 2017 compared to 2014.

Reducing paper consumption

Electrical price tags (Foto)

In financial year 2015/16, Media-Saturn introduced digital price tags throughout Germany. This not only makes price labelling considerably more efficient – the digital signs are also better in terms of sustainability as the stores no longer need to print price information on paper every day. Thanks to this digitisation process, Media-Saturn consumes approximately 600 tonnes less paper internationally every year. This roughly equates to the payload of 60 dustcarts.

Reducing electronic scrap

Media-Saturn also assumes responsibility for electronic products at the end of the product life cycle. Europe alone amasses about ten million tonnes of electronic scrap per annum. Large portions of it are nearly infinitely recyclable without loss of quality, but often end up in the household rubbish.

The EU’s WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) introduced new collection targets and higher recycling and reuse quotas. From 2016, for example, 45 per cent of the average weight of the electrical appliances put into circulation in the previous three years must be collected in the European Union, with this figure going up to 65 per cent from 2019. Germany currently only collects approximately 40 per cent.

In the past, we have already accepted the return of old appliances voluntarily, i.e. without being legally obliged to do so. What’s more, no restrictions are placed on the appliances that we take back. At Saturn in Germany alone, more than 10,000 tonnes of electrical appliances were returned in 2015. Over 50 per cent of them were household appliances.

More: recycling process

Customers in Germany have already been able to return used electrical appliances at any Media Markt or Saturn stores since 2005. The returned appliances are collected and transported to a certified primary treatment facility. It first rids the old appliances of pollutants, disassembles them into their components – such as condensers, metals, glass and plastics – and then sorts the materials. The average metal portion of a washing machine, for example, is over 80 per cent. About 16 per cent of the machine consists of other materials such as plastics, including approximately 14 per cent elastomers and compounds, and some 1.5 per cent glass. Altogether, a washing machine has a recycling quota of 80 to 85 per cent.

Cooperation with kaputt.de

At the Media-Saturn SPACELAB, Europe’s first consumer electronics retail accelerator programme, the group of companies is looking for innovative company founders along its entire value chain. The SPACELAB works like a sort of business school for the selected start-up entrepreneurs and supports them with financial investments and expertise. The company founders get assistance from top partner companies and expert mentors from industry and consulting in the areas of marketing strategy, logistics and sales, and also from Media-Saturn managers.

From late 2015 until April 2016, kaputt.de participated in the first round of the SPACELAB. The central idea of the Berlin-based start-up is to consolidate the fragmented repair services offered for broken smartphones. The kaputt.de portal presents the website users with various options. If, for example, the smartphone display is broken, the customer can order a replacement display and repair it themselves on the basis of instructions or they can compare local service providers who will perform the repairs. The list of these providers includes over 100 Media Markt and Saturn stores. In this way, the useful life of smartphones can be extended and waste can be avoided. Customers also have the option of purchasing a new smartphone, choosing to either sell or dispose of their old device through kaputt.de.

More information on kaputt.de is available in the magazine.

kaputt.de most popular solutions (Grafik)kaputt.de most popular solutions (Grafik)

Efficient energy use

Energy consumption stores (Foto)

Media-Saturn operates more than 1,000 stores worldwide where customers can try out thousands of electronics products. To reduce the stores’ energy consumption, the group of companies employs efficient energy management and constantly modernises the stores and administration buildings. Since 2012, all stores have been equipped with monitoring systems which constantly keep track of the energy consumption. In addition to the electricity used, the systems measure the air quality, the room temperature and other indicators. The data are provided online to the facility managers in the respective countries. Since the systems were introduced, those responsible for the control systems have received intensive training in using them. If necessary, they contact the store in question directly and optimise the technical systems.

Media-Saturn also makes targeted investments in energy-efficient lighting at the stores. LED light strips have now been installed in over 100 stores. Compared to conventional T8 and T5 tubes, LED light strip lamps consume up to 50 per cent less electricity. In 2015, for example, the energy consumption of the lighting at a reference store in Germany was reduced by 38 per cent or 68,400 kilowatt-hours per annum. The group of companies aims to install LED lighting systems in all stores worldwide by 2025. Based on this and other measures, Media-Saturn intends to achieve a like-for-like reduction of 30 per cent in its stores’ electricity consumption by 2030 compared to 2011.

In addition, the group of companies aims to achieve a high quality standard with respect to the sustainable furnishing and technical equipment of the stores. To this end, Media-Saturn is developing internationally uniform real estate guidelines based on the Gold certification standard of the LEED classification system for the low-energy and environmentally friendly design of buildings.

More: Minimum criteria for refrigerators and freezers according to EcoTopTen

Energy consumption:

  • Energy efficiency class A+++
  • Maximum consumption: 200 kilowatt-hours per year

Halogenated fluorocarbons (HFC):
Neither refrigerants nor the foaming agents that are used for insulation materials must contain halogen-organic substances or have been made with these substances.

Supporting eco-friendly and cost-efficient use:
Upright and chest freezers as well as fridge-freezers must issue either an acoustic or visual alarm signal when the temperature gets too high or the door is open (in the case of fridge-freezers: the freezer).

Quality:
If Stiftung Warentest has published a quality test, the minimum criterion is the rating ‘Good’. However, if no test result exists, this does not necessarily lead to devaluation.

Emissions impacting the climate:
EcoTopTen shows the annual greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture and use of all appliances in CO2 equivalents (CO2e). The balancing of the greenhouse gas emissions which occur during the production of a refrigerator or freezer was based on data from ecoinvent. The balancing was performed with Umberto, a software for Life Cycle Assessment and shows the following results for the manufacture of a refrigerator or freezer (cf. table 1). When calculating the attributable annual greenhouse potential due to the manufacture of the refrigerators and freezers, the service life on which the calculation is based is a critical factor. In accordance with the data of the German Society for Consumer Research, refrigerators and freezers were presumed to have a service life of 13.5 years.

Table 1: Greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalents (CO2e) associated with the manufacture of the appliances – related to their assumed service life (EcoTopTen criteria for refrigerators and freezers).

Type of appliance

CO2e in kg per unit

Average service life

CO2e in kg per unit and year

Source

Refrigerator and freezer

257

13.5 years

19.04

Own calculation by the Eco Institute (7/2014)

The annual electricity consumption according to the Energy Efficiency Directive 1060/2010 was considered for the use of the refrigerators and freezers. For one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, there are average climate-related emissions of 637 g CO2 equivalents in Germany (cf. table 2).

Table 2: Background data for the calculation of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of refrigerators and freezers in CO2 equivalents (CO2e) (EcoTopTen criteria for refrigerators and freezers).

Use

CO2e

Source

Provision of electricity

0.637 kg/kWh

ecoinvent 3.2 (2015)

Costs:
The total annual costs allow consumers to get an overview of the actual product-related costs, the so-called life-cycle costs. The total annual costs for refrigerators and freezers listed by EcoTopTen are composed as follows:

  • Purchase price or attributable acquisition costs: The purchase price is the median purchase price for the listed appliance as found at idealo. The purchase price is divided by the service life (in years). This equals the acquisition costs per year.
  • Annual operating costs: They are generally composed of the electricity as well as water costs, if applicable, plus the costs for other utilities. Only the electricity consumption is relevant for refrigerators and freezers. The calculation of the annual electricity costs is based on the energy consumption of the listed appliance according to the Energy Efficiency Directive 1060/2010 and multiplied by the average electricity cost (in euros per kilowatt-hour).

Table 3: Composition and sources of the total annual costs for refrigerators and freezers shown by EcoTopTen (EcoTopTen criteria for refrigerators and freezers).

Components of the total annual cost

Calculation

Assumptions

Source

*

Electricity price per kWh

1

Aus Umweltbundesamt (Hg) (2015):
Prakash, S.; Dehoust, G.; Gsell, M.; Schleicher T.:
Einfluss der Nutzungsdauer von Produkten auf ihre Umweltwirkung: Schaffung einer Informationsgrundlage und Entwicklung von Strategien gegen „Obsoleszenz“

2

Current prices for refrigerators and freezers

3

Equals the price for 1 kWh of electricity (labour incl. base rate) in a two-person household in Germany.

4

BDEW Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V.; BDEW
Electricity price analysis January 2016, accessed on 12.2.2016.

Attributable acquisition costs

Purchase price/service life

Purchase price: median of purchase prices found

idealo1

Service life: 13.5 years

German Society for Consumer Research (GfK) according to the German Federal Environment Agency (2015)2

Annual electricity costs

Annual electricity consumption

Annual electricity consumption: according to information on energy label

 

Average electricity price € 0.287/kWh3

Electricity price analysis 1/2016 by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW)4

Reducing packaging

Collection of parcels (Foto)

To save excess packaging material, the online shops mediamarkt.de and saturn.de are planning to send consolidated pick-up shipments to the stores in future. Currently, all orders are packaged and shipped individually. Consolidating ten orders into one package will save approximately 4,500 tonnes of packaging material and some 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2020. This equals the average annual consumption of more than 2,400 cars 1.

1 Based on 12,000 kilometres driven (Statista