The Sustainable Turn 2025 study provides a holistic perspective on current and future developments in industrial sustainability.
For the survey of our study, top decision-makers from the food & beverage, mechanical engineering and consumer goods sectors were interviewed, all of whom occupy a central leadership role in the transformation of their company. The respondents evaluated 13 theses on the topic of industrial sustainability with regard to their probability of occurrence and the respective impact on their company.
The results were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively and meaningful results were selected for presentation.
The study confronts decision-makers at the companies surveyed with theses on industrial development in 2025.
These 13 theses formulate future scenarios in the area of sustainability, whereby the topics addressed range from technological developments to social aspects to regulatory issues. The survey participants evaluate each thesis in terms of its estimated probability of occurrence and how large the anticipated impact on the respective company will be. The results of the survey provide a meaningful insight into how leading companies view a sustainable industrial transformation and what developments the decision-makers in the companies are preparing for and how strongly the individual sectors will be affected.
“Companies that have not comprehensively integrated Sustainable Development Goals into their corporate strategy and derived fields of action are no longer competitive.”
“Business models that go well beyond legally prescribed sustainability standards are among the most important differentiators in the competition.”
“Companies that have credibly integrated sustainability perspectives into their corporate philosophy are twice as likely to recruit and retain young talents over the long term compared to competitors that have not implemented this.”
“When it comes to sustainability, it has largely remained declarations of intent and hype. Sustainability strategies are not backed by objective verifiable and comparable KPIs. They are still dependent on the goodwill of companies.”
“The share of renewables in the overall electricity mix in Europe remains at 25 %. Security of supply with green electricity is not guaranteed.”
“Recyclability plays a central role in investment and technology planning: From material composition to packaging development up to manufacturing technology. Companies that have not taken these framework conditions into account in the PDP (Product Developement Process) at an early stage will no longer be able to sell affected products.”
“The digital pioneers are also leaders in sustainability. Compared to other companies, they achieve in 80 percent of the cases better results in meeting applicable sustainability KPIs.”
“Companies that put packaging including respective products into circulation are responsible and obliged to ensure that it is disposed or recycled. According to the law, this service is handled via contribution-financed systems (EPR – Extended Producer Responsibility) in over 150 countries. The contributions are paid by the industry – in every country where packaging is placed on the market.”
“Regulatory requirements for the use of recyclates have increased the cost of the entire value chain by 50 percent.”
“The increasing scarcity of materials has fundamentally changed the entire procurement process. Strategic, technological and process competencies have become a key competitive factor in securing access to recycled raw material sources in the Circular Economy.”
“Companies are increasingly focusing on the use of recyclates in products, but the end consumer is still not willing to pay for quality and consumes according to the principle of “stinginess is cool”. That’s why cheaply produced and less sustainable products prevail in the market.”
“Consumer participation is critical to ensuring access to recyclates and meeting regulatory requirements. Collaborative, consumer-friendly business models around the topics of Urban Mining and Recycling are emerging. In return, consumers expect companies to enable sustainable consumption to optimize their own sustainability goals.”
“Europe has the world’s strictest sustainability regulations. As a result, European companies can no longer compete globally.”
»With digitalization, sustainability issues are experiencing an enormous acceleration.«
»The gap between consumers who live sustainably and those who prefer or are forced to buy cheaply will persist. Only legal requirements can change this.«
»Our employees have a great deal of freedom in interpreting and implementing sustainability initiatives.«
»Young talent focuses not only on sustainability, but also on growth and motivating incentives. A comparison with older generations shows that the younger generation does not always act more sustainably.«
»A trendy topic for a few becomes a mega topic for everyone.«
»Sustainability correlates with digitization - but the development forecast here is likely to take somewhat longer and occur from around 2027.«