Sustainable and Safe Products


Respect and protect the environment

Safe And Sustainable Products 350X200 (1)

Our objectives

  • Minimise the impact that we and our businesses’ products have on the environment through innovative design and operational excellence.
  • Ensuring that our businesses achieve the highest standards of product quality, reliability and safety.
  • Act ethically and with integrity and expect our suppliers to do the same. Where applicable, we have strict procedures in place to seek to identify whether 3TG (Tungsten, Tantalum, Tin, and Gold) minerals are sourced responsibly and from conflict-free regions of the world.


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SDG 09 (1)
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Product responsibility is a core tenet of the Melrose model of acquiring and improving underperforming manufacturing businesses. This is grounded in safety and sustainable production practices, and demonstrated by sustainable product performance and effective product life cycle management. 

Examples of this include GKN Automotive’s torque vectoring technology for all-wheel drive (“AWD”) products that improves vehicle safety, and AQH’s product development focus on improving the air quality inside the home by safely eliminating pollutants that can adversely impact human health. Furthermore, we recognise the risks and opportunities that the transition to a net zero emissions economy presents. Despite operating in some of the hardest industries to decarbonise, our businesses are well positioned to meet emerging regulatory requirements and wider environmental expectations. Through our significant investment, we help our businesses and their customers tackle pressing environmental challenges such as climate change.

Fan Case Mount Ring 2

Innovating for sustainability

Explore our businesses’ key product development initiatives and how they help customers achieve their sustainability ambitions.

View our case studies

Helping our customers address climate change

Cultivating the technical capabilities, innovation and foresight to provide effective solutions to the emerging sustainability challenges that our businesses’ customers face is a key priority. We are taking active steps to anticipate how climate change will affect our businesses, and to drive positive climate action. We will continue to strengthen our understanding of the specific climate-related risks our businesses face, and work to mitigate these risks through alignment with the recommendations of the TCFD during 2021.

Climate-related issues have a direct impact on product strategy, development and financial planning across all of our businesses. Our businesses work closely with their customers and world-class research institutions to develop market-leading, cost-effective innovations, delivering solutions that address environmental challenges.

In 2020, our businesses invested over £150 million(1) in developing products that help their customers improve their energy efficiency and to reduce their GHG emissions, water consumption and waste generation compared with conventional technologies.

(1) Data has been collected from 95% (by R&D) of the Group

Alice Cam D HI

GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace continues to invest a significant proportion of its R&D spend each year(1) on enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions within aircraft. The business leverages publicly available funding to support climate-related R&D, such as Clean Sky in Europe.

(1) Gross budget for 2021 is c.£40 million.

Case study: GKN Aerospace’s Fan Case Mount Ring to help save fuel and waste

Read more about GKN Aerospace’s key sustainability initiatives during 2020

Sustainable and Safe Products

GKN Aerospace activities

  • Signing the Joint Declaration of European Aviation Stakeholders related to Clean Aviation in Horizon Europe in June 2019, committing to a European Partnership towards achieving goals of the Paris Agreement. GKN Aerospace has committed to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050 and designing products that enable its customers to develop aircrafts that emit net zero GHG emissions throughout their life cycle by 2050. In order to meet these longerterm goals, GKN Aerospace has set an interim target of reducing its Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 5% annually.
  • GKN Aerospace is a key partner in the Wing of Tomorrow composite spar project. The UK Aerospace Technology Institute funded programme led by Airbus UK aims to provide technologies for a sustainable Future Single Aisle Wing. A composite wing is the most significant opportunity for the Single Aisle airframe to improve aerodynamic performance, reducing global CO2 emissions by many millions of tonnes every year. The work is being undertaken in GKN Aerospace’s new Global Technology Centre in Bristol, UK, with the business investing more than £25 million in the programme over three years.
  • GKN Aerospace is leading the development of a ground-breaking liquid hydrogen propulsion system for aircraft. The c.£55 million collaborative H2GEAR programme will push hydrogen technology and accelerate aerospace decarbonisation with the goal of zero CO2 emissions hydrogen-powered sub-regional aircraft entering the skies as early as 2026. The H2GEAR programme will create more than 3,100 jobs across the UK and reinforces the UK’s position at the forefront of aerospace technology research and development, as well as putting GKN Aerospace at the heart of the technology developments needed for the future of more sustainable aviation.
  • Eviation and GKN Aerospace continue their quest to deliver the world’s first electric commuter aircraft (Alice). In development since 2015, Alice will be capable of operating in the lower end of the regional market carrying nine passengers and two crew members on journeys up to 800km. Regional and domestic air travel account for a large part of aviation’s CO2 emissions, with CO2 produced per km per passenger for flights of less than 500km almost double that of flights over 1,000km. Battery-powered aircraft are a key part of the journey towards zero-emission aviation. GKN Aerospace is providing its expertise across the integration of large-scale components including the complete wing, the complete tail including empennage, and electrical wiring interconnection systems. Design and manufacturing activities are already ongoing on-site at Eviation in Israel and in several GKN Aerospace engineering centres across Europe, and the companies are targeting an Entry into Service date of 2022.
  • GKN Aerospace Sweden is leading in the testing of Sustainable Aviation Fuels. Groundbreaking development in the use of biofuels in aviation could lead to huge reductions in carbon emissions. Test flights using the Gripen RM12 engine powered 100% by biofuel have so far shown excellent performance both in flight and on the ground. The biofuel used is fully interchangeable with normal jet fuel and no engine changes or modifications are required.

We are committed to ensuring that our businesses achieve the highest standards of product quality, reliability and safety. In recognition of the importance of our businesses in protecting the wellbeing of the ultimate end-users of their products, each business follows strict product design and development procedures."

GKN Automotive

GKN Automotive is at the forefront of increasing the efficiency of the products it manufactures. 

At the GKN Automotive UK Innovation Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, the business is helping progress the electric vehicle revolution and the ongoing decarbonisation of the global automotive sector. Projects based at the UK Innovation Centre include a partnership with the University of Nottingham and Drive System Design to develop the future generation of eDrive system platforms, including the world’s lightest and most efficient electric vehicle powertrain suitable for the volume market, and Advanced Cooling and Control of High Speed e-Drive (“Ace Drive”) technology, which targets: (i) a 25% reduction in packaging size and cost; (ii) a 20% drop in weight; and (iii) a 10% increase in efficiency compared to current equivalents, and production readiness by 2023. As a result of the business’s continued investment and focus in electric motors, GKN Automotive is now the market leader in highly efficient AWD systems, enabling its customers to improve fuel efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions.


The new generation AWD components are made from 98% recyclable materials

The Disconnect AWD technology provides around 80% more reductions in AWD-related CO2 emissions than conventional AWDs. The new generation AWD components are 30% more efficient and 20% lighter than previous generations and are made from 98% recyclable materials. 

Product durability has been increased by 25%, and the use of expensive and supply constrained materials such as copper and rare earth elements has been reduced. These new products are more efficient, lighter (due to reduced material usage) and significantly longer lasting. The 510,000 systems of this type expected to be sold in 2021 will reduce vehicle emissions by more than 40,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. In addition, the ePowertrain product line will invest approximately £70 million in 2021 in new products or in further enhancing existing products to support the CO2 agenda.

GKN Powder Metallurgy

GKN Powder Metallurgy’s new e-pumps are substituting engine-driven pumps on vehicle transmissions. A conventional automobile pump system causes the pump to be constantly driven, whether or not it is required, which causes energy wastage. The new e-pump system operates on demand, actuated from the electronic controlling unit of the car. This ground-breaking technology can achieve a fuel benefit of up to 10% compared to a conventional engine-driven pump operating within a conventional driving mode. For full hybrid and electric vehicles, the e-pump is the leading solution for lubrication and cooling.

Nortek Global HVAC

Nortek Global HVAC through its Nortek Air Solutions division continues to develop best-in-class technologies that directly benefit communities around the world, and ensure continuity of critical infrastructure following a major weather or seismic event. Its air handling units rank 1, 2 and 3 in Miami-Dade County’s High Velocity Hurricane Zone rating compliances for AHU cabinets. Earthquakeresistant climate control technology supplied to hospitals on the West Coast of the US have been proven to withstand a 6.7 magnitude seismic event for a duration of 30 seconds with virtually no damage


Between 2018 and 2020, AQH’s Broan division developed and introduced to market its AI Series Fresh Air System. Ever-increasing regulation to promote energy-efficient homes requires houses to be more airtight, which inherently creates a reduction in natural ventilation and can reduce air quality. The AI Series provides constant ventilation to homes to help improve indoor air quality, while reducing the energy impact. The system requires less energy to heat or cool a house and get the best air quality, and has an energy recovery rate of at least 75% of the previous energy cost.


In response to a growing need for a network of easily accessible and cost-effective electric vehicle charging points across the UK, Brush commenced a pilot project to develop and provide an integrated and containerised electric vehicle charging station solution. Through a combination of innovative design and technical excellence, Brush built a self-contained solution which could operate autonomously, be remotely monitored, and would require very little maintenance or intervention while also supporting the transition to a net zero carbon economy. The prototype solution, which comprises a 33kV Transformer, Switchgear, Vacutap® VBO tapchanger and condition monitoring, will be delivered by July 2021.

Ensuring the highest standards of product quality and safety

We are committed to ensuring that our businesses achieve the highest standards of product quality, reliability and safety. In recognition of the importance of our businesses in protecting the wellbeing of the ultimate end-users of their products, each business follows strict product design and development procedures to ensure precise delivery to customer specification, and to seek opportunities to enhance quality and safety performance.

The Group takes a preventative approach to product responsibility. We ensure that effective controls and processes are in place around social factors such as safety and quality assurance, including crisis management procedures and processes including, but not limited to, potential recall programmes.

In 2020, 92% of the Group’s product portfolio (by revenue) was certified to a recognised international quality management standard of ISO 9001, ISO/ IATF 16949 or EN/AS9100. All GKN Automotive and GKN Powder Metallurgy products are certified to the ISO/IATF 16949 standard, except for certain GKN Powder Metallurgy products which are certified to ISO 9001 (this standard is the application of ISO 9001 for automotive production and relevant service part organisations).

Surveillance audits are conducted annually to ensure the standards are maintained, and recertification occurs every three years. In addition, Nortek Global HVAC has committed to achieving ISO 9001 compliance across the entire organisation in 2021. These high standards of product quality are recognised by our customers. GKN Aerospace has received more than 15 separate external recognition awards in the past three years, and its Hoogeveen and Papendrecht sites in the Netherlands have received the Boeing Silver Performance Award for three years in a row. Other customer awards received by GKN Aerospace have been from Lockheed Martin, Bombardier and Spirit AeroStructures.


of the Group’s product portfolio (by revenue) was certified to a recognised international quality management standard of ISO 9001 in 2020

Product life cycle management

Our businesses assess the impact of their products on the environment in terms of material usage, waste, energy usage and CO2 emissions throughout each product life cycle. By incorporating circular economy principles in their design and manufacturing processes, our businesses can reduce their environmental impact and deliver products to their end markets with increased durability and longevity and reduced waste. Across the Group, life-cycle assessments have been completed for 11% of products (by revenue) with 10% of products (by revenue) certified to ISO 14040 and/or ISO 14044.

Sustainable and Safe Products

Product life cycle management

GKN Aerospace technologies ensure that only 20% of procured metal billets are removed in the production process, whereas the norm is up to 80%, therefore significantly reducing the ‘buy to fly’ ratio.

Nortek Global HVAC is aiming to reduce waste materials through better fabrication and manufacturing processes, with a cost saving target of US$20 million (£14.7 million).

To limit the end-of-life product impact on the environment, a number of our businesses are actively involved in product take-back programmes.

GKN Automotive is involved in an initiative whereby old driveshafts are collected from designated garages and transformed into “as good as new” products with savings on energy, water, CO2 and steel production. In addition, 100% of GKN Automotive’s driveline products can be remanufactured for reuse.

GKN Powder Metallurgy performs life cycle product assessments certified with applicable standards (ISO 14040 and/or ISO 14044). The process is reviewed during third party external audits. Hazardous substances, GHG emissions, and raw materials are included in the review. Risks and opportunities are considered across all processes: design, development, procurement, production, transport, packaging, use, end-of-life treatment and end-of-life cycle. Several improvement actions have been identified following the completion of these assessments, including:

  • recycling of metals and other materials to reduce landfill;
  • conducting surveys on compressed air systems to reduce energy consumption from air leaks;
  • eliminating or reducing the use of petroleum products; and
  • improving manufacturing operations to improve energy efficiency and GHG emissions.

Designing products that require less materials whilst maintaining and improving performance is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but is commercially beneficial. Brush’s Fusion software for design optimisation has resulted in up to 10% less materials and improved performance on its transformers. Brush has achieved an average reduction of 6% in copper, steel, polycarbonate and thermoplastics waste due to optimised manufacturing processes, and more optimised raw material, machined/ pre-formed sections and extrusions.

Ergotron performs life cycle product assessments in accordance with the ANSI/BIFMA e3:2014 standard to reduce energy use, water use, and hazardous materials in production processes and end products. Life cycle assessments are performed on 100% of new office products and were completed on 21% (by revenue) of total products sold in 2020.

Our other businesses focus on reusability of products. All products made by GKN Powder Metallurgy’s Hoeganaes division are 100% recyclable, and its powder is made from scrap. Furthermore, it takes back green (not yet sintered) scrap and unused powder from internal and external customers, re-mills it and mixes it back into new products.

The use of recyclable components is key to AQH, with its products being 90% recyclable based on their material composition.

Responsible sourcing

We are committed to ensuring that our businesses source raw materials and manufacture products in a responsible, ethical and sustainable manner. This applies to our businesses’ global supply chains and is important in mitigating the risk of supply chain shocks.

We require our businesses to work closely with their suppliers to ensure they respect human rights and promote good working conditions across their supply bases. In practice, this means that suppliers are expected to treat their workers equally and with respect and dignity, for all workers to be of an appropriate age in compliance with the local legal minimum age for work, for all workers to be paid a fair wage that meets or exceeds the legal minimum standard or prevailing industry standard, to eliminate excessive working hours for all workers in compliance with local laws, and for all workers’ health and safety rights to be protected at work.

Our businesses work with their suppliers to ensure that they conduct business in a manner that embraces sustainability and reduces environmental impact. We require our businesses to have strict procedures in place, in respect of sourcing products or raw materials containing 3TG minerals, to the extent required by applicable laws or customer expectations, to seek to identify whether 3TG minerals are sourced responsibly and from conflictfree regions of the world, as set out in the Group conflict minerals policy, which is available on our website. As a minimum, relevant suppliers are required to:

  • perform due diligence to ascertain whether any 3TG minerals in products are conflict-free; and
  • complete the Responsible Minerals Initiative reporting template or equivalent, as required by the respective business.

In line with our decentralised model, while the Board retains oversight of supplier-related Group policies that have applicability across the Group, such as the conflict minerals policy, responsibility for the implementation and management of all supplier-related policies rests with divisional management. The Group supports its businesses in implementing and managing such policies across their respective supply chains, in line with the nature and geographical representation of their supplier base.

Our businesses implement supplier qualification processes where relevant which, at a minimum, require suppliers to complete a risk assessment. Many of the businesses require suppliers to sign their supplier code of conduct or equivalent policies and depending on the determined level of risk, may also result in an audit or further reviews. GKN Aerospace, GKN Automotive and GKN Powder Metallurgy have each prepared a supplier code of conduct that applies globally to all their suppliers and is based on the ethos of “doing the right thing”.

As well as providing high quality goods and services, our businesses are expected to operate in a manner that supports the Group’s commitment to acting ethically and responsibly and is consistent with the Melrose Code of Ethics. Please see our Ethics and Compliance section for more details.