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Volkswagen
Gap Score: +3.0
#bestglobalgreenbrands
  • Energy consumption in production has been steadily improving at Volkswagen. As of 2013, 2,205 kWh was consumed in production per vehicle, compared to 2,213 kWh in 2012, and 2,519 kWh in 2010.

  • The Volkswagen brand views recycling as an integral part of vehicle development: 85% of each new vehicle can be recycled, and 95% recovered. New Volkswagen vehicles currently contain around one-third recycled material. The Golf 7, for example, is made of somewhere between 34 and 35% recycled material.

  • Due to an increase in production volumes at new and existing production sites, both water consumption and wastewater volumes have risen.

  • Volkswagen is using the environmentally friendly “e-scrub” painting method for the first time at its new paint shop in Bratislava, Slovakia. The “e-scrub” dry particle filter is the first of its kind in the world to be introduced in production work flow. The electrostatic filtering method reduces harmful emissions by up to 90% and energy consumption by up to 80%.

Working Together

Volkswagen AG received the Companies Promoting Inclusion Award 2013, which honors the commitment to collaboration between people with and without disabilities. In 2013, 7.18% of the total workforce of Volkswagen AG were employees with disabilities—well above the statutory quota. When new buildings are constructed or existing ones are refurbished, emphasis is placed on creating accessible workstations, staff canteens, as well as toilets and washrooms. A company-wide working group is also focusing on establishing a corporate culture of inclusion. Volunteering is also integral to the Volkswagen culture. The Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt (Volkswagen supports volunteering) initiative is aimed at current employees and their partners as well as at retirees. The aim is to promote and support volunteering; for instance, in the summer of 2013, more than 700 Volkswagen employees volunteered to help the victims of flooding in Germany. But, for Volkswagen, corporate social responsibility means commitment to building a better world beyond the factory gates or vicinity. With a total of 70 projects worldwide, Volkswagen engages in a wide variety of corporate social responsibility activities, from anchoring sustainable-development education through the Mobility Curriculum in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg initiative to getting schoolchildren involved in reforestation efforts.

The Green Advantage

Embodied by its holistic “Think Blue.” philosophy, Volkswagen aims to strike a balance between three main factors: economy, ecology, and society. With an ambitious goal to become the most sustainable automaker by 2018, Volkswagen intends to achieve this through exceedingly resource-efficient production and a broad-based approach to its powertrain and fuel technology. With sustainability at the core of Think Blue., an ethos of social and environmental responsibility is anchored within the whole brand strategy and evident in the events it promotes, such as the Eco Ride 2013, and new product lines, such as e-Golf. In these ways and more, Volkswagen has shown itself to be a sustainability leader, but the auto industry is evolving rapidly—especially in the U.S., owing to increasingly rigid standards imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As more stringent emissions standards continue to take effect, sustainability pioneers such as Volkswagen may have to play a bit of catch-up to get ahead of the pack once again. The brand’s performance remains steady overall, though weakened reporting on supply chain emissions, water, and waste metrics contributed to Volkswagen’s decline in our ranking. Perceptions have also dropped considerably, particularly in the U.S., possibly due to a negative halo around quality, labor disputes in the U.S. South, and business performance.

Links

Sustainability Report 2013
Think Blue.
Volkswagen Lays Out Vision of ‘Sustainable Mobility’ in 2013 Sustainability Report
Environmental Description e-Golf 2014
e-Golf background report 2014