Audi has launched the so-called Mission: Zero in its Neckarsulm factory, with various initiatives that could be reproduced in all the other factories of the brand in order to pollute less and to rebalance the harmful emissions resulting from the production activity. “Climate change, water consumption, resource scarcity and biodiversity loss affect everyone and are among the greatest challenges of our day. With its clear commitment to the terms of the Paris Agreement, Audi is committed to actively work to create a liveable environment and a sustainable future.“, Declared the house in Ingolstadt.
At the Neckarsulm site, the aluminum sheet scraps were returned as part of the “Aluminum Closed Loop” cycle, thanks to which they are recycled and reprocessed to be used again by Audi. The use of secondary aluminum reduces energy consumption by up to 95% compared to the use of primary aluminum. Since its introduction, Audi has achieved net savings of more than 525,000 tons of carbon.
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Audi is also committed to sustainability in logistics and inland traffic, which is why all rail services operated by DB Cargo transporting finished vehicles or materials from the Neckarsulm site are low-emission. In addition, low-NOx trucks powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or electricity are used for shunting operations between the trailer yard and the factory premises. The site’s charging infrastructure, which is supplied with green energy, continues to grow: 600 charging points will be available by 2022, including publicly accessible fast charging stations in visitor parking lots.
Another challenge is water consumption, which should be kept as low as possible. The company expects to halve water consumption per vehicle from an average of around 3.75 cubic meters today to around 1.75 cubic meters by 2035. Audi will achieve this by using recycled water wherever possible. The Neckarsulm site plans to implement a closed water cycle between the factory and the nearby wastewater treatment plant operated by AZV Unteres Sulmtal. The feasibility of this project is being tested in a pilot plant for waste water treatment; it should reduce fresh water consumption by 70%.
Finally, where possible, Audi reduces packaging waste by systematically separating recyclable materials from unsorted ones. In Neckarsulm, the plastic films are processed first into granules by a local manufacturer and then into garbage bags which are used on the site. The cycle allows about 15 tons of plastic waste to be reused every year. A positive side effect is that the site is saving a good 40% of what it would spend on garbage bags. Furthermore, the elimination of polystyrene is well advanced. An innovative pilot project launched in 2019 will also shred plastic packaging waste and turn it into 3D printer filaments; the latter will then be used to create ergonomic assembly aids.
There is also room for diversity: since 2014, several bee colonies have used the Neckarsulm site to produce honey. More than 35 species of flowers are planted each year to provide habitat and food sources for important pollinators and other insects. Several Audi apprentices built 17 insect hotels this year and set them up on site. The wooden structures offer shelter to different species of insects. In the southwest section there is also a tower dedicated to the nesting of swallows.