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Volvo Sustainability Report: Hazardous Waste Up 14%, Energy Use 7% – But Sales Up 17%

From 2010 to 2011, Volvo Group’s energy use rose 7 percent and its hazardous waste production rose by 14 percent – both smaller percentages than the company’s increase in sales, according to its 2011 sustainability report.

The Volvo Group’s energy usage was 2,471 GWh in 2011, an increase of 156 GWh compared with 2,315 GWh in 2010. This rise is substantially smaller than the 17 percent increase in net sales over that time period. Volvo currently has an energy efficiency index rating of 8.1 MWh per million Swedish Kronor of sales compared to 9.0 in 2010.

Most of Volvo’s energy is used in heating and production processes, and around a third of its energy usage goes to powertrain production facilities. Since 2004, the group has focused on energy reduction in its production processes, and has reduced its energy consumption by 46 percent per unit produced, the company says. Measures such as controlled lighting and ventilation, turning off equipment from idle running and replacing old machinery have helped the company achieve this, Volvo says.

From 2010 to 2012 Volvo is aiming to reduce idling losses – or energy use outside of production – by 50 percent, and to cut an additional 15 percent of energy use per unit produced against a 2008 baseline. The company has also pledged to investigate the possibility of making its facilities carbon neutral. In the CSR report the company says carbon neutrality is a “long-term goal,” but does not give a date by which it hopes to achieve this. It opened its first carbon-neutral facility in Ghent, Belgium, in 2007, and 2011 saw two more plants in Sweden become carbon neutral.

Volvo’s carbon dioxide emissions fell from 279,000 tons in 2010 to 255,000 tons in 2011. Its tons of CO2 per million Swedish Kronor of sales also fell, from 1.1 in 2010 to 0.8 in 2011.

Last year saw the company’s first U.S. facility achieve the ISO 50001 energy management standard. The New River Valley assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia was the first facility owned by any company to achieve the standard under a pilot program supported by the U.S Department of Energy.

The amount of hazardous waste Volvo produced rose 14 percent year-on-year to 25,943 in 2011, but the amount of hazardous waste the company produced when compared to net sale sales dropped off. In 2010 this figure was 88 kg per million Swedish Kroner, compared to 85.5 kg in 2011. The company says that while its total amount of waste has fallen over time, changes in what is defined as hazardous waste has seen the total amount of hazardous waste produced increase in recent years.

Emissions of sulfur dioxide rose from 33 tons in 2010 to about 34 tons in 2011. Nitrogen oxides fell from 719 tons to 474 tons, a 34 percent drop. Relative to net sales, emissions of nitrogen oxides decreased while sulfur dioxide emissions remained stable, Volvo says.

Emissions of solvents rose 260 tons from 2,294 in 2010 to 2,554 in 2011, a 10 percent jump. Volvo says this rise was largely due to increased production. Solvent emissions fell in relation to sales.

The company’s water consumption increased six percent from 7.52 million m3 in 2010 to 7.97 million m3 in 2011. The increase is, again, due to increased sales, Volvo says. Its water consumption compared with net sales has decreased every year since 2002, with the exception of 2009, a year which Volvo says had very low production volumes. Since 2010 the company has included water management goals in its group targets.

In 2011, two Volvo companies – Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo Bus Cooperation – were the latest to join the WWF’s Climate Savers Partnership. Other members of the Volvo Group became members in 2010. As a member of the program, Volvo has agreed to reduce the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by trucks, construction equipment and buses manufactured by the group through 2014 by more than 30 million tons, compared with vehicles manufactured in 2008.

The company is also part of the KNEG (Climate Neutral Freight Transportation) network. The coalition of Swedish companies, public authorities and researchers aims to halve the emissions from a typical Swedish long-haul transport operation by 2020 compared with 2005.

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