The last two years have seen substantial progress for Volkswagen Group UK Limited on all aspects of Sustainability. First, we have seen the launch of our greenest-ever vehicles, the Volkswagen e-up! and the Volkswagen e-Golf, both using pure electric powertrain to achieve zero-emissions in use. In the UK we have gone further than just supplying the vehicles – we have also signed an industry-first partnership deal with the green electricity supplier Ecotricity. This means that our customers can sign up to the unique ‘Blue Power’ package which provides discounted zero-carbon electricity, free membership of the ‘Electric Highway’ national charging network and the option of a free home smart-meter. The discount provides approximately 1000 free miles of motoring in an e-up!, compared with Ecotricity’s standard green energy tariff.
Our progress hasn’t been limited to our vehicles. We have taken further significant steps towards our 2018 environmental goals, with our most notable success being the achievement of ‘zero waste to landfill’ (excluding construction waste) from our Milton Keynes Head Office, National Learning Centre and Technical Service Centre. This milestone was achieved a whole four years early, by a cooperative approach involving smart segregation of waste at source, leading-edge processing by our contractor and diversion of anything that cannot be recycled from landfill, to energy-from-waste.
We have continued to track our 2018 target of reducing our carbon intensity, per vehicle sold, by 25 per cent compared with the 2010 baseline. We are also at the final stage of legal agreement for a dramatic increase in our renewable energy capacity. This involves extending the existing 110 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at our National Parts Warehouse to a far larger system of 1.6 megawatts – almost 15 times greater. When complete, in early 2015, this will be among the largest roof-mounted solar schemes in the country.
However, mid-2014 marked what is likely to be an even more important step, with the decision to broaden the existing – highly successful – environmental strategy to a wider Corporate Social Responsibility endeavour by creating a CSR Policy (see below) and Strategy for the Group. The Policy was signed off by the Board of Management last September, and was launched to the business on 18 November at an event attended by a range of stakeholders including the RSPCA, the Milton Keynes Charitable Foundation and Brooklands Farm Primary School.
The RSPCA were able to show one of the six new Crafter vans donated to them by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. These will be used to transfer rescue animals between centres, helping to manage demand without buying in additional space, and thereby saving over £250,000 per year in boarding fees.
Milton Keynes Charitable Foundation is one of the longest-standing beneficiaries of Volkswagen Group UK giving. On our behalf they manage, and distribute, the Volkswagen Group UK Ltd Fund with the aim of ‘supporting vulnerable members of the Milton Keynes Community’. In the year to March 2014 this distributed over £6,000 to four specific projects selected on our behalf. Brooklands Farm Primary School joined us in celebration of the first community project put through under the new CSR Policy. The school approached us, via one of our members of staff who is also a Governor at the school, to ask for our help in completing a project which involves all year groups in doing the sort of real work which we do every day. This included marketing, roadside assistance and even a modern-day update of the original, classic Beetle. The project has been a tremendous success, and we will be looking for opportunities to do something similar next year.