Volkswagen Group South Africa on the road to being carbon neutral

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Aligning with the priorities of the Volkswagen brand worldwide, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has set its sights on an ambitious goal: for its Kariega plant to become a carbon neutral production plant by 2030.

VWSA is already well on their way to achieving this, putting environmental sustainability first through a range of projects being implemented at its Kariega plant, as well as its sites in Sandton and Centurion.

Under the umbrella of their Zero Impact Factory programme, VWSA has placed its focus on biodiversity, clean energy, efficient resource management and waste reduction, to name a few.

Notably, VWSA has installed solar photovoltaic panels at its sites capable of generating 4 488 MWh of electricity annually, with R34 million invested to date. Additionally, solar panels installed at the employee car park for the Kariega plant will be added to this from September 2024, accounting for an additional investment of R55 million and a further 4 500 MWh in generation capacity.

In terms of water consumption, VWSA has installed rainwater harvesting tanks capable of storing 1,2 million litres of rainwater, for use in various Production areas. This is in addition to the wastewater recycling facility VWSA built on-site in 2021, which has the capacity to reduce the plant’s use of freshwater in Production by 26%.

Meanwhile, the company’s waste reduction initiatives have delivered impressive results, with a 5% reduction in landfill waste in 2023. VWSA has reduced its cardboard box waste by 17 tonnes and its plastic waste by 46 tonnes in 2022 and 2023. The company also continues its efforts to promote biodiversity through projects such as spekboom planting and the removal of invasive alien plant species at its Kariega sites.

Through all these and other projects, VWSA has already reduced its environmental impact by 57% compared to the baseline measured in 2010. This includes reductions of:

  • 56% in energy usage
  • 53% in CO₂ emissions
  • 73% in use of freshwater
  • 76% in waste

The company was also recognised for its environmental sustainability efforts in 2023, garnering the international Lean & Green Management Award, as well as the SJM Flex Environmental Award at the local Exporter of the Year awards.

“With these results, VWSA is synonymous with environmental sustainability,” said Ulrich Schwabe, VWSA Production Director. “We remain committed to minimising our environmental impact on all possible aspects of our operations, and the results speak for themselves. I am grateful to every employee who has contributed to these achievements. As VWSA we will continue building on the good work that has already been done by our teams and pave the way to our carbon neutral future.”

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