While construction projects can be resource-intense, contractors can take heart that there are suppliers who have made it their mission to lessen the environmental impact of construction. Choosing products from suppliers that demonstrate a meaningful commitment to a circular economy is one way to help your projects be greener.

An environmentally responsible product manufacturer considers principles of the circular economy in all phases of a product’s lifecycle, including:

  • Thinking about the use of recycled materials during product design and striving to help ensure these materials will remain reusable in the future
  • Minimizing the use of water and energy as well as the amount of production waste
  • Relying on quality and repairability so that products remain in use for as long as possible
  • Establishing processes for managing tools at the end of their useful life

Companies like Hilti – whose core purpose is to “Build a Better Future” – are here to make that choice a little bit easier. When it comes to making tools, bits, blades and other products that contractors rely on, it’s no longer enough to say how much you care; suppliers can and should back up their sustainability commitments with transparent reporting and measurable targets.

A Long-Standing Commitment in Action

Many construction professionals will recognize Hilti as a brand that supplies high-quality tools, anchors, or fire protection products. In fact, their hardware, software, and service portfolios actually cover just about any professional project application you can think of, including supplying The Home Depot with tools for its rental program. And, at the heart of it all is a long-standing commitment to sustainability.

Hilti is a family-owned company established in Liechtenstein more than 80 years ago. Their core purpose is to build a better future, and they do that by helping people build faster, safer, and more sustainably. The Hilti Group operates their own plants, research and development centers, logistics and repair centers around the world. Hilti North America markets and sells Hilti products in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico helping ensure the tools brought to the North American market infuse this sustainable ethos into every step.

Investing in Metrics to Define a Circular Economy

Up until recently, there has been one major hurdle for even the most environmentally minded companies, including Hilti: the lack of a standardized, internationally recognized framework for measuring circular economies. Without that framework, it was difficult to benchmark and demonstrate progress on improved circularity.

To advance measurability on this point, Hilti looked to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Dutch non-profit organization Circle Economy who co-developed CIRCelligence, a framework that shows organizations how to make circular economy concepts an integral part of overall corporate strategy. Using this framework, companies can evaluate their entire product portfolio in terms of both quality and quantity.

The qualitative assessment provides information about the current efforts and the maturity of the company’s control system. A company achieves grade “A” if it has implemented the latest findings in the field of circularity in all its business areas. The qualitative evaluation helps to evaluate how structured the circular economy is implemented in a company.

The quantitative assessment provides information on the actual status of circularity, mainly measured by the mass of resources used. A value of zero percent means that materials and products are handled in a linear way at all stages of the value chain. A value of 100 percent signifies full implementation of circularity. A variety of aspects, including energy consumption and the inherent recyclability of the products, are taken into account in the calculation.

Hilti Scores High on Circularity

  • Input: The use of recycled materials in Hilti products is well above the global average of eight percent. The metals they use play a key role, which already contain a significant share of recycled materials.
  • Product design:Many Hilti products are already made of materials with a high recyclability. The company continues to advance on this point by making conscious design decisions on material choice.
  • Production:In 2020, the Hilti Group converted all of their global production facilities to renewable electrical energy, dramatically reducing the environmental footprint of this process.
  • End of life:With free and convenient pickups from a global network of reverse logistics, Hilti collects more than one million pounds of tools in North America each year. These products are then recycled or, depending on the condition, they may also be refurbished by their expert repair team and donated to non-profits. Hilti tools have a high proportion of steel, copper and aluminum, meaning that more than 70 percent of the tool’s mass can be recycled (virtually indefinitely) for a variety of applications.

To learn more about the importance of measuring progress towards a circular economy, check out CIRCelligence by BCG. Read Hilti’s latest sustainability report to learn more about the company’s sustainability initiatives.