To safeguard our Company’s long-term future, we are committed to integrated environmental protection that assesses and takes into account the environmental impact of manufacturing processes and products at an early stage.
To this end, we have clearly defined all responsibilities and procedures relating to environmental protection worldwide in the Volkswagen environmental management system and, taking the environmental impact of our facilities into consideration, implemented a continuous improvement process. The environmental requirements of the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and those of the international standard DIN ISO 14001 are met in the process; this is evidenced by corresponding certificates following regular audits by internal auditors and external testing companies.
We also regularly conduct special workshops on topical environmental issues with our foreign plants for knowledge transfer purposes. The measures for improvement developed at these workshops are subsequently approved at regional environmental conferences together with local management and the Group’s Environment unit.
The continuous improvement process for all locations is supported by the uniform environment principles across the Group, our strategic guidelines and technical specifications. This enables us to ensure that comparable environmental standards are in force in manufacturing processes throughout the whole Company.
Cooperation for environmental protection
The production of vehicles and components generates waste, which is subject to special legal requirements. These stipulate that any party who generates waste has a duty of care to check the journey it takes until final use or disposal at the different waste disposal companies so as to prevent recourse claims and a loss of image for the Company. To minimize the effort and expense this involves and facilitate rapid exchange of experience, Volkswagen and seven other German automakers and suppliers – including BMW, Ford, Opel and MAN – set up an Internet portal through which collective audits of disposal contractors can be planned and the results documented in order to avoid multiple inspections of a single disposal company by different manufacturers.
First Europe-wide internal environmental award presented
The internal Volkswagen Environmental Award, which honors employees who take a proactive approach to environmental protection in their particular field of work, was presented for the fifth time in 2008. Due to the positive response in past years, since 2008 the award is being made annually on a European basis for both production and products, instead of nationally every two years.
An employee from the Pamplona facility in Spain took first place in the production category. Thanks to the device he developed and built single-handedly for using remaining quantities of an adhesive transported in barrels, around 5,800 kg of hazardous waste can be prevented each year.
First prize in the product category went to the team that developed the Passat TSI EcoFuel, which put huge effort into using Volkswagen’s twincharger technology to create a consumption- and performance-optimized natural gas engine. The thin-walled and thus lighter gas tank of the Passat EcoFuel also helps reduce the vehicle’s CO2 emissions to as little as 129 g/km.
Environmental Ratings for an ecological advantage
The “Umweltprädikat” (Environmental Rating) recognizes Volkswagen vehicles and technologies that have a particular ecological advantage over predecessors or comparable models. The label informs our customers, shareholders and other interested parties in and outside the Company that vehicles, components and processes at Volkswagen are more environmentally friendly over their entire lifecycle and also mentions the successes we achieve as a result. The information in the Environmental Rating is based on an environmental impact study conducted by the German inspection organization TÜV NORD and certified according to ISO 14040/44. It considers not only the pure “driving time” of a vehicle, but also its entire lifecycle from the delivery chain through manufacture and usage to its disposal. The new Golf received the “Umweltprädikat” in 2008. So far, the Golf predecessor model, the Passat and the direct shift gearbox have all been awarded this Environmental Rating.