A journey in large
and small steps

As a core part of our entrepreneurial responsibility, sustainability has been a concern of ours for a long time.

We’ve taken a close interest in sustainability issues in a variety of different ways for a number of years. Developments in and expressions of sustainability, as with most important topics in the world, are the result of a continuous process. What began as a call for environmental protection is now an effort along multiple fronts to preserve our planet for future generations. We show some of the milestones along this journey on the following page. What they all have in common is the fact that they’ve emerged from a combination of multifaceted aspects and the circumstances of their respective era. They’re achievements or events that act as signposts for this trip into the future as a logical – and sometimes absolutely illogical – consequence of our actions. When you look at the path from a bird’s eye perspective, we think you’ll agree with us. Other milestones can only come about from responsible and far-sighted interaction between politics, society, science and business. Sustainability may therefore well be a key issue for us for a long time to come.



Saxony-based mining administrator Hans Carl von Carlowitz coins the term ‘sustainability’. He defines it as a principle in forestry for the utilisation of wood: never cut down more trees than can grow back in the same period of time.

Geschichte der Nachhaltigkeit, Nachhaltigkeit.info, 2012


In his ‘I have a dream’ speech, civil rights activist Martin Luther King calls for equality for the African-American population in the USA.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) compiles the Red List of Threatened Species. This becomes the world’s most comprehensive source of information on the global endangerment status of animal, fungal and plant species.


The UN Conference on the Human Environment, the first United Nations conference on the environment, takes place in Stockholm. It’s considered the start of international environmental policy.

25 Meilensteine der Umweltbewegung, Bits und Bäume, 2019


Several tonnes of toxic substances are released into the atmosphere from an Indian factory producing pesticides. The wind blows deadly methyl isocyanate gas over the nearby slum of Bhopal. Several thousand people die and hundreds of thousands fall seriously ill.


The Chernobyl nuclear disaster claims countless victims and leaves many people with long-term illnesses. In the same year, a major fire breaks out in the industrial area of Schweizerhalle near Basel. Fire-fighting water contaminated with pesticides then pours into the Rhine. The event puts environmental protection on the corporate agenda. 


The Brundtland Report (Our Common Future) defines sustainable development as follows: ‘[...] development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.


The Montreal Protocol comes into force as an international treaty of environmental law. In it, the signatory states undertake ‘to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting or likely to result from human activities which modify or are likely to modify the ozone layer’.


More than 150 countries reach an agreement on sustainable development at the environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro.


Annual CO2 emissions in Switzerland amount to 5.8 tonnes per capita. In 2018, the figure is still 4.2 tonnes per capita.

Kenngrössen zur Entwicklung der Treibhausgasemissionen in der Schweiz 1990–2019, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, 2021


The Swiss Federal Act on Gender Equality prohibits any kind of discrimination against men or women in the workplace and covers working conditions, training, further education, recruitment, promotion, dismissal, pay and allocation of tasks.


The Kyoto Protocol comes into force. The signatory industrialised countries commit to reducing their annual greenhouse gas emissions in the period from 2008 to 2012 by an average of 5.2% compared with 1990.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposes the UN Global Compact at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Under this pact, companies and the UN aim to jointly shape globalisation in a more social and ecological way.


The first World Social Forum takes place in Porto Alegre under the motto of ‘Another world is possible’; 12,000 people and more than 1,000 organisations attend. It’s a symbol for the anti-globalisation movement.


The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil flows into the sea for 87 days. For months, a huge oil slick drifts around and contaminates almost 2,000 kilometres of coastline.

Der größte Ölunfall der Geschichte, Deutschlandfunk, 2020


After one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, several cooling systems break down at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Deadly radioactivity is released and poisons the air, soil, water and food.


UN member states decide to develop concrete global goals for greater sustainability. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are laid down in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and apply from 2016.


A textile factory building complex collapses in Bangladesh. The disaster kills 1,138 people and injures over 2,000. It’s symptomatic of the dire working and safety conditions in the textile, clothing and footwear industries worldwide.

Rana Plaza – Fabrikeinsturz in Bangladesch, Public Eye, 2019


Nearly 190 parties sign up to the Paris Agreement as a global framework to combat climate change. 


In Switzerland, around 24 million tonnes of waste are generated per year, or around 45 tonnes per minute. It’s not only the world’s biggest recycler but also one of its biggest producers of waste.

Ent-sorgen? Abfall in der Schweiz illustriert, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, 2016


The European Commission publishes the Sustainable Finance Action Plan for financing sustainable growth. 15-year-old schoolgirl Greta Thunberg becomes the face of the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement.


Europe is set to become climate-neutral by 2050, according to the European ­Commission’s new Green Deal. In the same year, the European Parliament decides to ban single-use plastics.


The Swiss Federal Council adopts the Climate Strategy 2050. The electorate rejects the total revision of the CO2 Act.


Chemist Nathaniel Wyeth patented the first PET bottle in 1973. If he’d buried his first patented design somewhere in the forest, it would’ve completely degraded by around this date.

An unserem Plastik werden selbst noch unsere Ur-Ur-Ur-Ur-Ur-Enkel Freude haben, Watson, 2018