RESPONSIBILITY FOR CULTURE, NATURE AND SOCIETY
What distinguishes a company that claims to be a good corporate citizen? Is it the support of cultural initiatives? Environmental protection? Donations of money or donations in kind for those in need? We believe that being a good corporate citizen means taking responsibility: we want to make the world liveable for as many people as possible.
Kärcher for Culture
High Pressure for the Protection of Historic Buildings
Kärcher carried out a free of charge restorative cleaning work at Aachen Cathedral in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO. The cultural sponsoring project is one of more than 100 which the company has implemented throughout the world in the past 35 years.
Preserving world heritage together
Kärcher employees in protective clothing, wearing helmets, goggles and hearing protection, working on scaffolding on the outer facade of Aachen Cathedral. They are shrouded in a fine mist. Using hot water high-pressure cleaners, they are removing organic matter, such as algae and fungi, lichens and moss, as well as bird excrement, from the masonry of the Chapel of St. Charles and St. Hubert. “In order to preserve the facade in the long term, the dirt must be removed in an environmentally friendly manner without damaging the underlying material,” says Nick Heyden, Kärcher cleaning specialist, who was the technical director for the work on the chapel.
In a second step, the employees used the low-pressure particle blasting method. “The method and the aluminium silicate spray agent are well suited to removing what can be a thick black crust from the stone surfaces,” said Nick Heyden. “This is also the best procedure for cleaning the filigree stonemasonry of the Gothic facade of the cathedral chapel.” A final step is still required before the restorative cleaning work on the chapel can be completed in July 2015: the blasting agent residues are removed with wet and dry vacuums and disposed of safely.
“We are very pleased that we were able to take on a building that is so historically and culturally important,” says Hartmut Jenner, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of Kärcher.
Public-private partnership for the protection of world heritage
The action was carried out as part of a biennial collaborative project with the German Commission for UNESCO that began in 2013. The aim: to preserve cultural monuments in Germany. A total of fourteen applications were received for the model project. The German Commission for UNESCO supported the project with workshops on heritage conservation and art history to get young people enthusiastic about world heritage and to encourage them to shape a sustainable future.
“Our company has its own approach to promoting world heritage,” says Hartmut Jenner of Kärcher’s involvement. “Our cultural sponsoring activities go beyond the provision of financial resources and machines. We are making a very personal contribution by donating the time of experienced employees, and with our dedication to the projects. In this context, youth development and environmental protection are also very close to our hearts.”
More than 100 projects on five continents
The cleaning work at Aachen Cathedral is just one example of how Kärcher is involved in preserving historic and listed buildings and monuments for posterity. The work is always carried out in close cooperation with the relevant monument estates, the relevant authorities, restorers and art historians. This ensures that the most appropriate cleaning method is applied to each object.
Worldrenowned cleaning projects
The presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore (photo on the right), the colonnade on St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, the Colossi of Memnon in Thebes, Egypt, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Princes Bridge in Melbourne are famous examples of the cleaning projects under Kärcher’s cultural sponsoring.
Kärcher for Nature
Clean Water through the Power of Plants
As an international company, we at Kärcher have faced our global responsibility for the environment for many decades. The protection of water resources occupies a large portion of this. This is why the company installed its own waste water treatment plant on the factory premises in Winnenden back in 1939. At the Bühlertal factory, a water recycling system cleans 75,000 m3 of reclaimed water from product tests every year. But Kärcher are committed to more than just protecting the environment within their own company; in cooperation with the Global Nature Fund, we founded the “Clean Water for the World” initiative in 2012.
In the context of the initiative, we financially support the organisation in the construction of green filter plants for ecological water treatment, particularly in developing and emerging countries. “With the Global Nature Fund, we have found a partner that fits very well with our family and our core business of water and cleaning,” explains Frank Schad, Head of Corporate Communication, Cultural Sponsoring and History Management.
Sustainability through green technology
The long channels of green filter systems do not look like typical waste water treatment plants; they are more reminiscent of large planting beds. But green filters effectively prevent unfiltered waste water from reaching the groundwater. Floating plants with large root balls such as water hyacinth, whose roots filter harmful substances and pathogens out of the water, are particularly well-suited for this. As a result, green filter systems are economical and virtually maintenance-free. Chemical additives are also unnecessary. This makes them a feasible and practical solution for water treatment.
In order to ensure the sustainable implementation of green technology, the Global Nature Fund and Kärcher work closely with local communities, who are responsible for the construction of the channels and have committed to operating the system for at least eight years.
Award-winning pilot project: Colombia
The first green filter plant was commissioned in late 2013 in San Miguel de Sema (Colombia). The 4,000-resident community is located in the Colombian Andes near Laguna de Fúquene, a freshwater lake from which 200,000 people take their drinking water. The ecological balance of the lake was at risk due to its shallow depth and the waste water from the surrounding communities and the livestock industry. A total of three green filter systems, of which the Miguel de Sema system was realised first, as a pilot project, were installed in the immediate vicinity of the lake with the twin aims of improving sanitary and hygienic conditions in the villages located close to Laguna de Fúquene and reducing the lake’s pollution levels. It received the Colombian “Planeta Azul” environmental award in 2015. Since April 2015, the inhabitants of the city of Susa have benefitted from sustainable waste water treatment by water hyacinths. The third system at Fúquene was completed in May of 2016.
We were able to hand over another green filter at the end of 2015 in the municipality of Cuítiva on Laguna de Tota. Because of the great interest shown by the Colombian population, a fifth system is already in planning.
Kärcher for Society
Kärcher and SOS Children's Village: a strong Partnership
Kärcher is a family business. Therefore our social commitment puts one thing above all others: family matters. As a cooperation partner of SOS Children’s Villages, we are helping to provide happy homes for disadvantaged children and youths around the world.
Playing, doing homework, shared dinners and small quarrels – all this is commonplace for the 60 boys and girls in the Württemberg SOS Children’s Village in Oberberken, Schorndorf. The Children’s Village family is just that: a completely normal family, in which, of course, a lot of housework accumulates. Fortunately, the SOS mother does not have to do it all alone, because all family members tackle the cleaning together. Working together, they make their home spic and span using vacuum cleaners and pressure washers donated by Kärcher for that purpose. In this way, there is more time for playing together when the cleaning is finished.
In the spring of 2011, Hartmut Jenner, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of Kärcher, brought the first machines to the nearby SOS Children’s Village in Württemberg; this was the start of a lasting partnership with SOS Children’s Villages e.V. As a cooperation partner, Kärcher has since supported facilities from China to Peru with cleaning technology, expertise and, last but not least, with financial contributions.
Our annual financial donation has funded, for example, the 2014 “KINDERArt” project at the SOS Children’s Village in Württemberg, through which children can discover their talents in pottery, sawing, painting or breakdancing.
In 2015, our donation provided partial funding for a social lunch table for the SOS Children’s Village facility in Fasanenhof, Stuttgart. There, families and other citizens can have an inexpensive hot lunch while seeking the advice of social workers – this could be on questions about parenting, for some words of encouragement or for advice on dealing with the authorities. In cooperation with the association “Children of the Street”, we organised a football training session in which two professional coaches and world champion Guido Buchwald trained 28 enthusiastic young players at the SOS Children’s Village in Württemberg. A similar football training session was also held in the SOS Children’s Village in Luxembourg.
“ ‘We are family!’ is one of the mottos of SOS Children’s Villages, and this is also true of Kärcher in the best sense of the word.” Hartmut Jenner gets to the heart of the commonality between Kärcher and SOS Children’s Villages. Kärcher, too, is a family and in two respects. Firstly, there is the Kärcher family, who are wholeheartedly committed to their company and take their responsibility for the employees very seriously. Secondly, we also have the concept of the “Kärcher Family”, which conveys the particularly close and trusting relationship between the shareholders, management and staff of our company.
Solidarity with People in Crisis
When there is a flood, earthquake or other disaster, we arrive on-site quickly to help with labour and equipment, throughout the world. Our employees remove dirt and mud with our powerful cleaning machines. In many cases, we donate vital equipment such as water treatment systems and mobile supply systems to charities.
2015 – Earthquake in Nepal
Violent earthquakes shook wide regions of Nepal in the spring of 2015. The capital of Kathmandu was hit particularly hard. Kärcher donated two water treatment systems, which ensured a water supply for 30,000 residents, to the aid workers of the THW. “I was deeply impressed by Kärcher’s determination to provide substantial and committed support to THW aid workers during our mission in Nepal,” extolled Claudia Schur, director of the THW Foundation.
2014 – Severe weather in Georgia
Heavy rainfall caused a violent landslide in June 2014. As a result, the Georgian capital of Tbilisi was inundated by mudslides. More than 300 people, the zoo and an animal shelter were affected. In order to best assist those affected, Kärcher donated hot and cold water high-pressure cleaners worth 10,000 euros to the city administration for clean-up operations.
2014 – Floods in the Balkans
Severe storms wreaked havoc in the Balkans in 2014. Kärcher Austria and the subsidiary in Sweden supported the clean-up operations through equipment donations to the Red Cross. Repairing the damage was sped up with the help of professional hot and cold water high-pressure cleaners and wet and dry vacuum cleaners and submersible pumps.
2013 – Typhoon in the Philippines
Likewise, when Typhoon Haiyan raged in the Philippines in 2013, there was an urgent need to supply the affected people with drinking water. Faced with this emergency situation, Kärcher acted immediately and donated two water treatment systems worth 100,000 euros to the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW). The two systems supplied more than 19,000 people with up to 120,000 litres of clean drinking water daily.
2013 – Flood catastrophe in Germany
Our colleagues did not hesitate to set off for the affected areas right after the flood of the century. For 27 days, 46 Kärcher employees worked with high-pressure cleaners and vacuum cleaners on 40,000 square metres of floor areas in 56 properties in Bavaria, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Kärcher also donated special vacuums and high- pressure cleaners to fire departments and aid organisations.