Active climate protection and the efficient use of raw materials that are becoming increasingly scarce play an important role at Volkswagen. In addition to the emphasis we place on environmentally compatible products, we also focus on resource-conserving and environmentally friendly production. In the reporting period, we once again achieved improvements to our key environmental indicators in production. The charts on this page illustrate this clearly. Based on the requirements of internal rules and process standards, the environmental data of Group production sites are compiled, validated and analyzed. Using continually updated data, we can determine the Group’s environmental pollution trends. The data captured currently covers 59 locations.
As part of our measures to protect the environment, we continuously optimize resource efficiency. We not only understand this as the relationship between resource input and product output for a particular process, but also view it in a broader sense – from product development all the way down to recycling. Resource efficiency is clearly at the forefront in product development.
For example, the applicability of material flow management in choosing innovative production processes from the vehicle and component production areas was tested and material flow management was introduced. The concrete effects of these measures can be seen, among other areas, in the paint shop, where material waste is being reduced by up to 85% with the help of a newly developed paint change system. Energy and material consumption in the components area is also being reduced. An important topic here is reducing the base load for electrical consumption, for example with procedures for lowering the consumption of equipment in standby operation. The focus of material efficiency is on processes with minimum lubrication or dry machining. These include what is known as orbital cold forming, an innovative forming method that replaces the machine processing previously used: by using blanks that are similar in shape to the final part, we are able to significantly reduce the amount of waste.
Volkswagen has developed and implemented many processes and procedures to ensure that new vehicles are 85% recyclable and 95% recoverable overall. These percentages are confirmed regularly by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority. Thanks to the reprocessing of residue with the Volkswagen SiCon process, recycling end-of-life vehicles is both environmentally and economically feasible. Volkswagen generally takes its own end-of-life vehicles back without cost within the EU. Volkswagen taps into an extensive network of mid-size business partners for their recycling. Many worn components – around 13,000 items – are processed by Volkswagen, tested and reconditioned as replacement parts. In terms of quality and warranty, these are equivalent to new parts. We are gradually expanding our recycling activities to markets outside Europe. In 2011, we also started reprocessing engines in China.
One of our central goals is to reduce the use of primary raw materials. The use of quality-assured recycled materials in almost all vehicle components is not only permitted, but explicitly required in both the Group-wide recycling standard and cross-project environmental specifications. The recycled share of all materials in the current series Golf, Polo and Sharan models amounts to around 40% of the vehicle weight. Plastics are recovered in addition to many metals. One example is the underbody shells, which are made of 100% recycled plastics in some vehicles. Certification by the German inspection organization TÜV NORD confirms these high values.
Energy management at the production facilities
In 2011 we intensified measures to protect the environment and manage energy consumption for the long term at our production facilities worldwide. At the two Volkswagen sites in the Indian city of Pune and in Dalian in China, environmental management systems were put in place this year that were certified in accordance with the international standard EN ISO 14001. Additionally, we are taking the first step in adopting an energy management system in accordance with DIN EN 16001 at the Group’s European facilities. It is being integrated into the existing environmental management system and will be certified in the course of the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme ( EMAS ) of the European Union or the international standard EN IS O 14001. In Germany, Volkswagen also fulfills the requirements that constitute an important element of the German government’s plan for improving energy efficiency in industry.
Using different approaches, we have systematically worked on additional opportunities to save energy and improve energy efficiency at the sites and individual production areas. With the assistance of Group working parties and supporting IT applications, we have been able to expand the transfer of knowledge between the persons responsible and the individual sites. We have also established standardization measures to lower the base load during nonproduction times.
During the design phase for the plant in Chattanooga, the participating planning units – in light of the business goal of becoming the most environmentally friendly automobile producer worldwide – were asked to assess ideas and experiences from existing Group facilities. On the basis of these results and Group-wide standards for energy efficiency, an advanced overall concept for the environmentally sound design of the buildings, infrastructure and production technology arose which was in keeping with “Think Blue.Factory.” approach. In addition, wetlands near the factory grounds were expanded and connected with one another. The factory buildings are certified in accordance with the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard of the US Green Building Council. The certification affirms our adherence to strict standards sustainability and environmentally friendly construction. The LEED quality seal is awarded in four levels; the plant in Chattanooga was the first automobile factory to receive the Platinum status. The newest lighting systems are installed outside and inside, using technology that is as much as 90% more energy efficient. Efficiency in body shell production was raised by employing the latest generation of disk lasers to make welding seams. These lasers are seven times more efficient than the rod lasers commonly used before.
The paint shop in Chattanooga is one of the first in the Group to be operated on the basis of “Process 2010”, which combines two previously separate painting processes into a single operation, with no loss of quality. It saves the expense of a dryer and an air conditioning system in one of the painting areas. The process air from the spray booths is recirculated – and that also saves energy: up to 70% compared with the former process. This air recirculation system is based on a highly efficient design where the overspray created by spray painting is removed without the use of water. The Chattanooga plant is the first Volkswagen facility to use this process and a model for all painting facilities to be built in the future.
In order to reduce the environmental impact of volatile organic compounds, we are using water-based paints with reduced solvent content. The remaining solvents in the waste air are eliminated by a state-of-the-art waste air cleaner.
FRESH WATER PROCUREMENT AND WASTE WATER IN THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP*
in cubic meters per vehicle
TOTAL CO2 EMISSIONS BY THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP*
in kilograms per vehicle
CONSUMPTION OF ENERGY BY THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP*
in megawatt hours per vehicle
* MAN and FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company Ltd. with its plant in Chengdu were not included.