Circular economy

With regenerative approaches for a better planet

What does circular economy mean?

Ideally, the concept of the circular economy aims at complete waste avoidance as well as effective use of raw materials and thus reduction of raw material consumption. This is a systematic and holistic approach rather than incremental efficiency gains.

Circular economy means in particular:

  • Use of recyclable resources in product design
  • Use of environmentally friendly substances to avoid health and environmental hazards
  • Efficient use of energy and materials in the manufacture and use of products
  • "build to last" - development of products with the longest possible service life
  • Repair, refurbishment or reuse of products
  • Feeding into the cycle through repurposing and second use as well as reuse of the individual components of products
  • Community use of products to reduce the volume of production

Compared to a linear economy, a circular economy has positive effects on the environment and climate and thus contributes to sustainability. Through the efficient and circular use of resources, among other things, CO2e emissions are avoided and already scarce resources are used less.

How does Commerzbank take circular economy into account in its banking business?

As part of the materiality analysis carried out in 2022, we identified the sustainability issues that are most relevant to us. This analysis shows us which topics we need to pursue strategically as a matter of priority. Compared to previous materiality analyses, the topic of circular solutions has gained in importance, so we now want to focus more strongly on it and include it in our strategy.

As part of its Sustainable Finance offerings and in order to support a modern circular economy, Commerzbank finances projects that aim to replace the use of virgin raw materials with secondary (recycled) materials1 as well as those projects that aim to repair and reuse inputs.

At the same time, Commerzbank is setting a good example by focusing internal activities specifically on achieving a circular economy:

New life for used paper towels

Every day, Commerzbank generates large amounts of waste from paper towels in its washrooms. This is where a sustainability project at the bank comes in. Since 2016, more than 157 tons of paper that would otherwise have ended up in the residual waste have been returned to the recycling chain in a recycling process (as of 2022). Commerzbank is thus implementing the "Tork PaperCircle" project of Essity, a Swedish manufacturer of sanitary paper. Following successful piloting, the recycling project was extended to 15 Commerzbank office buildings.

100 % recycled paper in internal use

At the same time, we want to reduce our resource consumption and are digitising our processes. As an additional incentive to reduce resource consumption, we have been planting a tree for every ton of printer and copier paper saved since 2017. By 2022, 754 trees had already been planted.

Sustainable production and take-back cycle for office materials

  • When procuring office materials, Commerzbank looks for, among other things, a high recyclability of the product or a high proportion of recycled material.
  • Commerzbank has return boxes in its central material warehouses. In these, empty and used-up pens and markers made of plastic (regardless of the manufacturer) can be fed into a recycling loop.

Driving to work with the leased bike

Employees of Commerzbank AG can benefit from leasing high-quality bicycles or e-bikes. The bank leases the bike and lets the employee use it. By deducting it from their gross salary, employees can achieve an individual tax advantage compared to a private purchase. In addition, the bike lease package includes insurance against theft, vandalism and battery damage for e-bikes. For Commerzbank employees, this means they save taxes, do something for the environment and promote their health.

Fast, climate-friendly and healthy

Commerzbank employees can use the more than 15,000 bicycles of the bike-sharing provider "Call a Bike" throughout Germany free of charge. They can be used for business trips to other locations or customer appointments.

Pool vehicles for employees

Pool vehicles are cars that can be used by employees at Commerzbank for business trips and journeys. The Commerzbank fleet offers our employees the greatest possible individual mobility. The goal is to convert the fleet completely to electric cars. With the introduction of e-mobility, Commerzbank has already been one of the pioneers in the financial sector for years. In this way, the bank not only supports the goals of the climate strategy, but also enables its employees to make an active contribution to environmental protection.

A second life for used smartphones

When returning the old devices to Telekom, Commerzbank uses a process from Telekom's cooperation partner Teqcycle. After a complete data erasure, the smartphones are sold as used devices or disassembled, depending on their condition, in order to reuse expensive resources such as precious metals. Teqcycle was awarded the "Blue Angel" environmental seal in 2019.

Obtain expert knowledge

By recruiting Tim Janßen, co-managing director and co-founder of the NGO Cradle to Cradle, as one of the sustainability advisory board members, Commerzbank is actively bringing feedback and input on the topic of circular economy in-house.

  1. 1

    Subject to absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and end-of-life waste prevention.