The goals of Volkswagen’s ongoing effort to be more environmentally friendly go beyond producing more electric cars. The environmental targets of its resource-optimized factories are also focused on aligning with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Volkswagen is now planning 45% reduction instead of 25% reduction in CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption, waste production, and solvent emissions by 2018 (compared with 2010).
The company has been present a more responsible face repeatedly after the diesel emissions scandal, but commitments to green up their factories seem to back up that presentation to a notable degree as well. It is always time to be more ethical with regards to the environment, and it seems like Volkswagen believes that more than ever.
With “Think Blue,” Volkswagen’s first program focused on environmentally sustainable production, it is implementing 5,300 measures aimed at reducing emissions and resource usage. “Thanks to lower consumption, the environmental program has already saved more than €130 million in production throughout the world over a period of six years,” Volkswagen highlights.
That’s the thing that is so often forgotten, left unsaid, or even blatantly lied about to hide: And energy efficient and clean energy focus results in financial savings! Volkswagen’s efforts to green up (out of a genuine sense of responsibility or for PR reasons) has led to massive savings, €130 million worth. How many car sales would that have required?
The use of sustainable energy from clean energy sources such as wind, water, and sunlight are increasingly put into play at Volkswagen, including “large solar module installations on the roofs of the company’s production facilities and energy from its own biomass cultivation, such as in the ‘energy forest’ at the Emden plant.”
So far, 8 Volkswagen facilities around the world have switched to 100% renewable electricity.
Volkswagen is also implementing numerous energy efficiency and water-saving features, lowering emissions from solvents. “For example, by shortening the spraying intervals and applying new paint formulae it has been possible to reduce solvent requirements in the paint shop of the company’s Spanish plant in Palmela by 14%.” In that regard, “16 existing paint shops have been optimized and the base load energy consumption of the plants during non-production times fell by 15 per cent on average.”
The Volkswagen brand’s ambitious targets regarding the environmental impact of production were announced by Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Brand Board of Management responsible for Production and Logistics: “We reached our environmental target of producing our vehicles 25% more sustainable by 2018 before the date set. We now intend to reduce environmental impact by a further 20% by 2025. We are on the way to the resource-optimized factory at all the locations of the brand.”
Thomas Ulbrich: “One of the reasons why we are setting ourselves new, higher targets is that our team identifies with our environmental program and is making an outstanding contribution. The results are due to interaction between good ideas of our employees, targeted investments in the latest environmental technology and enthusiasm for process optimizations.”
We certainly put a lot of attention on electrifying transport, since that is a critical move toward stopping global heating and cutting air pollution, but it’s also worthwhile to push for industrial improvements like Volkswagen is taking and give kudos where due. That said, Volkswagen has gotten a lot of love for its environmental progress:
“Think Blue. Factory. has received more than 30 awards – including the National Energy Globe as the best project in Germany, the GreenTec Award for energy efficiency and water-saving measures in production and the Sustainovation Award. As of the end of 2016, Volkswagen has achieved an average reduction of 29.2 per cent in environmental impact: energy -23.5%, CO2 – 28.6%, waste -58.6%, water -27.5% and solvent emissions -7.6%.”
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