Our approach

In 1894, Gustav Pfleiderer founded a timber trading company and a rafting business in Heilbronn which used wood-based products. At this time, he laid the foundations of our company and to this day, sustainable wood-based products remain at the core of all our operations.

At Pfleiderer, corporate strategy and sustainability strategy are directly interlinked. Back then implicitly, today very deliberately. We produce our wood-based materials with a steadily increasing proportion of recycled wood and use biomass as the main source of energy our production. This is one of the reasons why sustainability – in its ecological, social and economic dimensions – is inextricably linked to Pfleiderer’s business model. Growth cannot be an end in itself. We are convinced that we can only achieve long-term entrepreneurial success with satisfied customers, healthy and motivated employees, and ambitious goals for environmental and climate protection. This results in a far-reaching responsibility, which we take very seriously.

In line with our commitment to being “naturally sustainable”, we can look back on many years of successful transformation. Our efforts are underpinned by concrete successes in securing our timber supply chain, increasing the proportion of renewable energy, increasing our recycling rate and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Especially important for us are our successes in increasing occupational health and safety in the company, fighting corruption and protecting human rights.

Our place in the circular economy

The Pfleiderer Group was one of the pioneers in waste wood recycling and, in terms of the amount of waste wood purchased and processed, was the largest waste wood purchaser in Germany and one of the largest in Europe in 2023.

We also have the most extensive laboratory facilities which enables us to regularly set standards in research and development with respect to the sorting and testing of raw materials and final products.

For 130 years, the renewable material wood has been inextricably linked with Pfleiderer as a company and its employees, customers, and business partners. Sustainable business practices have shaped our corporate culture for decades. This has heightened our awareness, not only to the versatility of this natural raw material, but especially to its value and irreplaceability in nature for countless ecosystems and climate stability.

Accordingly, we try to keep wood in the cycle as long as possible and to minimise the consumption of fresh wood. With our strong focus on the circular economy, we recycle this material wherever possible and use it to produce high-quality wood-based materials, thereby extending the CO2 storage capacity of wood. We use waste wood, which has reached the end of its useful material life due to contamination, to generate energy at our locations – thus closing the circle of wood use.
Through the consistent implementation of our recycling strategy, in 2023, we achieved our 2025 target of 50% ahead of schedule: 50.7% post-consumer recycled wood in our wood mix across our entire product portfolio. Through the consistent implementation of our recycling strategy we have reached our 2025 target of 50% ahead of schedule. An investment made in 2022 allowed the start of enhanced cleaning capacities at our Gütersloh plant in 2023, which successfully increased the use of recycled wood at that plant and thereby significantly contributed to this achievement.

Followed is the post-consumer recycled fraction by the fraction of sawmill residues with 26%. Thinnings and damaged wood account for 24% and, since 2007, have been sourced exclusively from controlled sources in Germany and neighbouring countries. Internal and external audits are carried out annually to ensure that the underlying criteria for FSC® Controlled Wood and PEFC Controlled Source are met throughout the supply chain.  We close the loop by using recycled wood at the end of its useful life to generate thermal energy at our sites.

In 2023, we achieved wood yields of 84% to 91% in our plants, depending on the plant (2020: 82% to 91%). The current technology does not allow 100% elimination of impurities from the wood. However, based on our ongoing research and development, we consider a higher share feasible. By 2025, we aim to achieve and maintain a minimum of 90% in all production plants. Ongoing dialogue with other parties who can help us achieve this goal is a component of our strategic approach.

The use of renewable raw materials, cascading use and the circular economy are the only economic models that can ensure the sustainable production of high-quality building and furniture products in the long term. In addition, the wood-based panel industry is committed to making a significant contribution to the fight against climate change by reducing CO2 emissions through storage and substitution.

Sustainability has been part of the DNA within the Pfleiderer business model for decades. We see this as an obligation and motivation to keep improving on behalf of our stakeholders in the focus areas of climate, materials and people.“

Dr. Frank Herrmann

CEO / Chairman of the Management Board


Our process

We comprehensively examined the effects of our business activities on the environment, economy and society as part of a materiality analysis. We reviewed three exciting fields of action – materials, climate and people. Classifying these fields allowed us to restructure and further intensify our sustainability efforts. On the basis of the previous analysis in 2020, we expanded our set of targets to include several key aspects:

One prime example of this is the working conditions within the company, where we have placed a particular focus on equal opportunities for under-represented employee groups. We have created a framework to increase transparency in our supply chains in 2023. We have analysed the impact of our business activities in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity and human rights. We clearly define the status quo so that we can set milestones and measure progress in detail over the next three to five years.

Our priorities

As a “naturally sustainable” company, we are clearly committed to the Paris climate agreement goals and aim to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. We are also committed to the goals of the UN Global Compact and promote the Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and zero tolerance for corruption.

Delivering Change

We operate at scale. The EU wood panel industry has a turnover of around €22 billion every year, creates over 100,000 jobs directly and counts more than 5,000 enterprises in Europe. Physical impacts from severe climatic patterns as well as high-level political coverage of climate change, which is increasing in its intensity from 2021, place sustainability thinking at the heart of every business model. As a result, our commitment to be more sustainable remains resolutely in place.

We work for our vision – this principle guides us in our daily actions so that we can become even more sustainable. We are constantly challenging ourselves in all aspects of sustainability and see it as our duty to improve in all areas.

Since 2022, we are reporting in reference to GRI (Global Reporting Index) and in 2023 we have started to align our reporting with the requirements of the CSRD (EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). This means, our stakeholders now can find the required sustainability information more easily on pfleiderer.com. As a consequence, our historic and recent sustainability achievements were recognised by the German Sustainability Award 2024. We have a lot of hard work ahead, but the recognition inspires us and we are excited, too, by the notion that we can be at the forefront of our industry and do better across every part of our business.

We are proud to be a naturally sustainable business

Our ESG targets

Read more about sustainability at Pfleiderer

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