Environmental protection, sustainability, resource preservation–it’s not only society as a whole that is discussing alternatives, opportunities to make savings, and different approaches. Within Daimler AG, too, such issues continue to grow in importance all over the world. Proof of this can be found in the Environmental Leadership Award, which was initiated in 2000 and is this year being presented for the twelfth time. 146 projects from 1200 participants in 30 countries were submitted last year during the application phase – almost twice as many as last time.
The fact that the Group is becoming ever “greener” in real life is demonstrated by many employees day after day. Their creative ideas and commitment help to ensure that Daimler lives up to its responsibility towards the environment. The internal Daimler Environmental Leadership Award acknowledges all the effort that is put into improving the Life Cycle Assessment of our products and into making our production facilities as environmentally compatible as possible.
The Award furthermore recognises initiatives that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to the improvement of environmental conditions at a society, local or regional level. For the evaluation of the applications, a top-class jury consisting of internal and external experts had dealt intensively with all projects, for which one thing was particularly important: they must have already been realized.
Festive celebration of exciting environmental projects
In all, ten finalists travelled to Stuttgart for the official award ceremony on 13th of February 2020 at ARENA2036. Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, Procurement and Supplier Quality, and Sabine Lutz, Head of Group Research and Sustainability at Mercedes-Benz AG, were pleased to personally welcome the proud and delighted winners onto the stage. Markus Schäfer was impressed by the range of the initiatives submitted: “The whole mobility sector is going through a period of profound change. It is our task to shape this transformation in a way that is both sustainable and meets our sense of social, economic and ecological responsibility. It is just so impressive to see the absolute ingenuity and dedication of our colleagues around the world when it comes to exploring new ideas for protecting the environment that will support us along this path. More than one project, incidentally, has shown how big changes can be made with just small steps.”
The path towards sustainability is a shared responsibility that relies on the constructive exchange of ideas and transfer of knowledge, the definition of areas for action and measures, as well as on a united approach to current sustainability issues by various stakeholders, in short: when the automotive industry, energy suppliers and politicians work hand in hand.
All the more gratifying, therefore, that Daimler was able to welcome to the event such prestigious guests as Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg, Sabine Nallinger, Managing Director of Foundation 2° – German Business for Climate Protection; and Michael Brecht, Chairman of General Works Council of Daimler AG and Chairman of the Works Council for the Gaggenau plant.
Overview of the winners
The category “Production and process-related environmental protection” was won by a project specialising in the “closed-loop recycling” of high-quality automotive aluminium. A lot of energy goes into the production of automotive aluminium, so making this also a CO2-intensive process. With the high-quality recycling of aluminium scrap, CO2 emissions can be significantly reduced, material cycles closed and resources conserved.
The winner in the category “Product-related environmental protection” was the project “Electric Drive Bus” (EDB), featuring a highly efficient CO2 heat pump for electric buses devised by Daimler colleagues in Mannheim. The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro represents the contribution to emission-free urban mobility, being as reliable as a diesel bus and offering maximum energy efficiency. This is achieved with the help of an extremely efficient heating and climate control system for the driver and the passenger compartment, which features a new type of CO2 heat pump that cuts energy consumption by 40 percent per year compared with conventional systems.
In the category “Outstanding environmental management”, the winner was the project “#Green. #Better. #Kecskemét”. Since production started there almost eight years ago, a great deal has been achieved under this motto by the Kecskemét plant in Hungary. Here numerous measures have been conceived and implemented. The results include 30 percent lower energy consumption, a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 30 percent and a waste recycling rate of 97.4 percent. Meanwhile, environmental protection doesn’t stop at the factory gates for this team. Refuse collection campaigns, the construction of cycle paths or the payment of all costs for bus journeys to and from work are just a few of the examples of how employees at the plant are applying their creativity and commitment to making their plant and their surroundings greener and better for the long term.
In addition, a special prize was awarded to the trainees who proved that you don’t have to have worked years and years for the company in order to come up with important new ideas for environmental protection in everyday working life. As “energy scouts”, the trainees identified optimisation potential with a focus on compressed air during their assignments in the various production areas.
With their tremendous motivation and the success of their project, they have not only delivered an outstanding result in terms of energy efficiency, but have also strengthened the environmental awareness of all apprentices and employees.
The sustainable business strategy of Daimler AG
To Daimler, sustainability means creating value for all stakeholders on a lasting basis: customers, employees, investors, business partners and society as a whole. The basis for this is Daimler’s sustainable business strategy. In it, the company takes responsibility for the economic, ecological and social effects of its business activities and looks at the entire value chain.
Clear milestones of the strategic sustainability offensive
One key aspect of the sustainable business strategy of Daimler AG is electric mobility. With its “Ambition 2039”, Mercedes-Benz is taking a holistic approach along the entire value chain that aims at being able to offer a CO2-neutral new passenger car fleet in 20 years’ time. One important aspect of sustainable mobility is transparency. This is why Mercedes-Benz AG is the first premium automotive manufacturer to have had its climate protection objectives scientifically verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). This means that the company is in line with the requirements of the Paris World Climate Accord.
A further objective is environmentally compatible growth – also known as “decoupling”. The aim here is to resolve the conflict between economic growth and increased resource consumption. This can only succeed if all activities are focused completely on moving towards a closed “circular economy”. That means only using what is absolutely necessary in terms of resources, reusing resources wherever possible, and recycling them over and over again.
To this day, all Mercedes-Benz cars are already 85% recyclable in terms of materials, with an overall recoverability rate of 95%. Nonetheless, there is still potential here. For example, Mercedes-Benz AG has set itself the goal of reducing energy consumption and waste generation at its plants by more than 40 percent per vehicle over the next ten years. In terms of water consumption, the aim is to achieve savings of more than 30 percent per vehicle. The objective, going forward, is to offer customers safe and comfortable mobility that is in harmony with our environment. The company is working closely with partners and suppliers in order to achieve this shift to the sustainable mobility of the future.
Daimler Trucks & Buses is likewise following a sustainable corporate strategy, and aims to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation (“tank to wheel”) in the triad markets of Europe, Japan and NAFTA by 2039. As already by 2022, Daimler Trucks & Buses plans to include series production vehicles with battery-electric drive in its vehicle portfolio in these key sales regions. By the end of the next decade, Daimler Trucks & Buses will extend its range of vehicles with hydrogen-powered series production vehicles.