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Volvo’s Water Use Ratio Drops, Hazardous Waste Increases

Volvo Group’s energy consumption increased in line with sales in 2010, while its rate of water use fell and hazardous waste increased by 29 percent.

The group’s 2010 Sustainability Report shows that its energy usage was 2,315 GWh in 2010, an increase of 427 Gwh or 23 percent compared to 2009. Volvo’s sales were up about 24 percent in 2010.

CO2 emissions outpaced the company’s sales growth, rising about 30 percent. But the company cut its ratio of water use to sales, from 31.8 to 29.2 cubic meters per million Swedish kronor (1 million SEK = $157,300). In absolute terms, that was a 13 percent increase.

Water consumption compared with net sales has decreased every year, with the exception of 2009, which was due to very low production volumes, Volvo said.

The report shows a 29 percent increase in hazardous waste, which Volvo attributes to changes in definition.

“Waste is usually classified as either hazardous or non-hazardous, although definitions vary from country to country and changes over time. Although our total amount of waste has decreased over time, these changes in definitions have resulted in the amount of waste classified as hazardous increasing in recent years,” the group said.

Volvo said that reducing its rate of energy usage is a priority environmental target for the group. Most of its recorded energy usage is for heating and production processes, and about one third of energy usage is at powertrain production facilities. The company has 65 facilities in 19 countries.

In 2010, the company opened a new foundry which it says uses 45 percent less energy. The foundry, in Skövde, Sweden, increases Volvo’s annual casting capacity to 150,000 tons, the company said.

The report said that Volvo has initiated several after-treatment and water recycling projects in Sweden, Belgium and Peru. Each of Volvo’s constituent companies will establish targets related to water use, which will eventually lead to an aggregated group target, the company said.

By the end of 2010, 96 percent of Volvo’s production workforce at 63 of its 65 plants were working in accordance with the environmental management certification ISO 14001, the report said. Volvo’s Lingong site in China and Volvo Construction Equipment site in Tultitlan, Mexico have not yet been certified, although the group says that the Mexico site has an ISO-like system that has been approved by government authorities.

Remedial operations were conducted at one real estate property in 2010, and no spillages were reported during the year, Volvo said.

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