Earth Hour at Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) is more of a long-term commitment than one hour of mitigation. In fact, sound environmental practices form an integral part of the company’s purpose.
However, to keep everyone loyal to the cause, Volkswagen operations across the globe observe #Project1Hour every year on Earth Day. This year Volkswagen employees will participate in a one-hour workshop which entails an environmental educational game.
Ulrich Schwabe, Production Director at VWSA said that Volkswagen is committed to give Mother Earth a ‘break’.
Over a ten-year period, the company has reduced its energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by almost half. The water usage and waste reduction declined by 65% and 66% respectively, while solvent emissions reduced by 31%. “In total our environmental impact has reduced by over 50% since 2010,” explained Schwabe.
The company’s goal is to minimise its carbon footprint and become a zero impact factory by 2030. “Decarbonisation is one of our key objectives. We are determined to become 100% carbon-neutral by 2030,” said Schwabe.
Furthermore, Schwabe pointed out that zero impact does not end in production, but is applied across the product lifecycle. “Our dealerships, suppliers and everyone in the value chain must subscribe to our environmental commitment,” he added.
VWSA’s zero impact strategy includes a broad spectrum of initiatives such as the installation of 3 136 solar photovoltaic panels and a wastewater recycling facility.
Environmental awareness programmes are further rolled out in schools in the areas where VWSA operates through the VWSA Community Trust. The impact of human behaviour on land and sea pollution which have serious consequences on bird, sea and human life, remains an important factor to the company.
“Environmental awareness must start at a young age. It is important that we get our schools involved. Greening projects in schools and rain water harvesting tanks are some of the initiatives undertaken to help save water. We also planted hundreds of spekboom and other indigenous trees in schools,” said Nonkqubela Maliza, Director of Corporate and Government Affairs at VWSA.
Other drives include employee involvement through the Show of Hands employee volunteer programme where beach-clean ups and tree planting are done.
“These projects are ongoing and #Project1Hour is but one way of ensuring we keep the environment top of mind every day,” said Maliza.