Zentek: A Case Study of Successful B Corp Certification Through Internal Engagement

This B Corp certification case study by Zentek unveils valuable lessons on successful stakeholder engagement and teamwork on the company's way to becoming a Certified B Corporation.
Zentek becoming a B Corp

About Zentek


Zentek was founded in 1995 and consists of a number of leading mid-size waste management companies in Germany that operate independently. As a specialist service provider for disposal systems and waste management, the organization develops and delivers customer and sector-specific solutions for companies.

In October 2023, Zentek achieved B Corp Certification, relying on a participatory approach. On the journey to becoming a B Corp, the company effectively promoted its commitment to environmental stewardship by fostering broad internal engagement with sustainability topics encountered in the B Impact Assessment (BIA). 

Becoming a B Corp

As a company in the waste disposal and recycling industry, Zentek puts the circular economy concept into practice every day and is sustainably positioned across all services. The company strives for complete material recovery and, therefore, high-quality recycling and supports its customers on the path to sustainable packaging and closed-loop solutions. Due to networking with universities and working groups and their support for research projects on resource conservation, the company is actively involved in the transformation towards a sustainable circular economy.

Christoph Heller, German B Corp Zentek

It was important for us to go one step further and have our environmental and social sustainability performance as a company critically reviewed. With the certification, we have succeeded in demonstrating, both internally and externally, how differentiated our approach to sustainability is and were able to establish a long-term sustainability structure that is aimed at continuous improvement.

Christoph Heller, Management at Zentek

According to Zentek, during the B Corp certification process, everyone learned that sustainability is so much more than just ‘green’ and that a holistic and far-sighted approach is essential. The waste disposal service provider is aware of the challenges of the times and the industry and was able to set a basis with B Corp to respond to upcoming legal regulations (such as the CSRD) and to support its customers as a competent partner.

Sabine Tächl, German B Corp Zentek

To us, sustainability means one thing above all: getting started. No matter how big or small your own contribution or that of the company may be – every step counts. Sustainability encompasses many topics and no one is expected to make a huge impact straight away: One person invests in a solar system, another uses public transportation, and yet another repairs broken appliances. There are also blind spots everywhere. It is important to be aware of these weaknesses and of how to deal with them.

Sabine Tächl, Head of Sustainability Management at Zentek

B Corp Certification as a Collaborative Effort

In the late summer of 2022, Zentek founded a B Corp team with employees from different departments – Sustainability Management, Sales, HR, Finance, Quality Management, Legal, Marketing, Design, and Management – which met regularly to reflect on, question, and optimize the approach of dealing with the B Impact Assessment. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free, confidential platform designed to help measure and manage a company’s positive impact on its workers, community, customers, and the environment. Every business striving for B Corp Certification is required to complete a verified assessment. From day one, Zentek believed that the huge topic of corporate sustainability should not be addressed solely by sustainability managers but requires the broadest possible discussion and, therefore, a wide variety of departments to be represented in their B Corp team.

The team opted for agile process management based on Scrum and progressed in sprints. From today’s point of view, the members are convinced that this structured approach to becoming a B Corp and the insightful retrospectives that showed them how to achieve their goals better and faster were crucial. Looking back, the team remembers how they were slightly overwhelmed by the variety and depth of the topics after the first few weeks of dealing with the B Impact Assessment and had only taken small steps forward up to that point, which had a sobering effect. Big to-dos needed to be broken down into smaller tasks. The whole process meant diving deep into the company’s impact and involving as many other colleagues as possible. 

Although Zentek had already been communicating regularly internally and externally about its progress in the certification process since day one, making B Corp a joint task that all employees could be a part of became the new focus. Instead of thinking about and prescribing necessary changes only at the management level (top-down), all colleagues should be able to help shape the changes themselves (bottom-up). Consequently, this meant taking away everyone’s fear of the complexity of B Corp, preparing content and topics step by step, and presenting them in as concrete a way as possible. It did not take long until the team felt confirmed in their strategy by seeing that they were able to complete significantly more tasks in a sprint than before.

Sabine Tächl, German B Corp Zentek

Since we should all be able to proudly say that we are a Certified B Corp, it was important that all employees knew exactly what it’s all about and could actively contribute to it. This sense of community and the growing identification with the values of B Corp on all sides functioned as real boosters.

Sabine Tächl, Head of Sustainability Management at Zentek
A group of people from the Zentek team sitting around an office table

Photo by Zentek

Another key aspect was the regular internal and external communication with updates on the progress, explanations regarding B Corp, and insights or advice from other B Corps, which contributed enormously to the development of understanding, enthusiasm, and full commitment among the employees. The team repeatedly relied on join-in calls and surveys as well as offering workshops and working groups on various topics from the BIA so that the staff implemented numerous sustainable measures and thus not only reduced the company’s ecological footprint but collectively increased its handprint.

Kim Weber, German B Corp Zentek

Our colleagues are enthusiastic about our sustainability journey and are getting involved in a variety of ways because they know that they can make a difference.

Kim Weber, Marketing & Communications at Zentek

As one example, the interactive in-house exhibition about B Corp proved to be a particularly effective means of communication, allowing employees to gain a better understanding of B Corp. There were booths to learn more about each of the five impact dimensions – workers, customers, communities, environment, and governance. In addition, employees could engage in hands-on activities and competitions, a feedback corner as a space for criticism, requests, suggestions, speeches on achievements, and videos with insights into other companies’ B Corp journeys. To top it off, snacks from Certified B Corps were served to raise awareness of sustainable consumption and the B Corp label. With this measure, Zentek says, the enthusiasm for B Corp and the commitment of the workforce to contribute to sustainable transformation could further be strengthened.

The Continuous Improvement Journey

Surpassing expectations with an impressive impact score of 99.9 points, Zentek attributes its successful certification to the significant participation of its workforce. As with every B Corp, Zentek will be required to go through recertification every three years to prove the company’s continuous commitment to positive impact. The Zentek team is motivated to sustain and further improve their diligent efforts for recertification.

Ralf Lang, German B Corp Zentek

We could list many big and small things that we have accomplished – from numerous energy-saving measures to even more sustainable criteria in procurement and the establishment of a diversity team to a series of new workplace health management measures. Crucial foundations have been laid in many areas throughout the company and new structures have been created, from where it is now our task to tap the full potential.

Ralf Lang, Human Resources at Zentek

In the future, Zentek wants to create even more positive impact, with the help of a disposal company screening tool, in cooperation with its waste disposal partners and, by recording material recycling, getting closer to its corporate objectives. Likewise, the company looks ahead in terms of Human Resources, with the introduction of a standardized feedback process and new leadership training aimed at seeing positive change. Another highlight is their recent implementation of established processes across various business areas, facilitating the measurement of impact on stakeholders. This allows for continuous monitoring and informed consideration of stakeholder impact in future decision-making.

Kim Weber, German B Corp Zentek

Overall, we also feel vindicated regarding our decision not to make a black box out of our certification process and to regularly and transparently share with our colleagues and the public the issues we are dealing with, the challenges we are facing, and the progress we have eventually made. No company is perfect – there is potential everywhere. We think it is important to be honest about this and to talk openly about possible failures because the journey is the reward. Thus, we have already been able to recruit some new team players who have been following our path and are ready to help us promote a more sustainable economy, which is great.

Kim Weber, Marketing & Communications at Zentek

Lessons Learned During B Corp Certification


#1: Encourage Participation


Provide diverse opportunities for employees to be part of the B Corp journey and help the change! This can include utilizing surveys, quizzes, trainings, workshops, and interactive in-house events to foster participation and enthusiasm.


#2: Balance Structure with Flexibility 


If tasks appear too big to handle, break them down into smaller, more manageable to-dos, which can be split across multiple people! Agile process management like Scrum can provide the right framework for this.


#3: Embrace the Journey of Continuous Improvement


B Corp is an impressive label, but it is the work along the way that deserves the most recognition! For sustainable transformation, there is no need to be perfect. By involving employees at an early stage, one can transform the fear of change into energy for greater impact. Transparent communication, initiated long before certification, fosters internal understanding and commitment and facilitates valuable external contacts and advice.




Learn more about Zentek’s impact as a B Corp!
Find out more about Zentek’s Sustainability Pledge!

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