Blue is the new green!

Blue is the new green!

Things are looking bright for Volkswagen South Africa thanks to VW’s global “Think Blue” initiative. This wide-ranging umbrella brand for everything related to the harmonisation of environmental sustainability and individual mobility has already paid off for the local company.

The “Think Blue Factory” programme, designed to entrench the philosophy in VW production plants worldwide, made its South African début at VWSA’s Uitenhage manufacturing plant just over a year ago.

Initially implemented in the paint shop, it has since been rolled out to other areas of this, the biggest car factory in Africa – and it’s no wonder: by the end of 2012, this holistic environmentally responsible manufacturing programme had helped the paint shop to save some 294 000 m3 of water. That’s a million litres in layman’s terms.

In addition, the paint shop has cut its energy usage by 6 518 megawatts. That’s enough electricity to power a small town with 800 homes for about a year. The plant’s CO2 emissions, meanwhile, have been cut by 721 tonnes a year, its hazardous waste by 117 tonnes, and general waste by 277 tonnes. This has been achieved largely by reusing, recycling and reducing unnecessary materials.

In monetary terms, VWSA estimates that savings of around R5,5 million have been achieved so far.

The company is encouraging its component and material suppliers to think blue too, offering advice and setting specification-related targets in line with the Think Blue philosophy. A typical example involves the development of water-based paints – this has dramatically cut solvent emissions and reduced the amount of hazardous waste needing to be disposed of.

VWSA Think Blue project leader Nico Serfontein stresses that this is an ongoing initiative. “The introduction of new products in the years ahead will provide major opportunities for more efficient and environmentally neutral processes to be implemented,” he adds.

VW aims to reduce the environmental impact of all plants by 25 percent by 2018.

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