As part of our Life Cycle Assessments, we did a pioneering analysis of our water footprint. The result: 96% of water consumption is attributable to the production process, most of it upstream and 10% in our own factories. Our scientific paper on this topic won an award from the Environmental Science & Technology Journal. For the first time, Volkswagen managed to compute the proportion of water recovered and reused. Given the large number of sites and the complex production processes, just the first step in a systematic inventory. 45 sites submitted data, and together they used 3.8 million cubic meters of recycled water, corresponding to 8% of their combined freshwater uptake.
It is important to reuse water as often as possible, or to operate a closed cycle, a principle in use at many of the Group’s sites worldwide. Our treatment plants employ innovative membrane or evaporator techniques, allowing the bulk of the process water to be reused. This way, more than 95% of the water remains in the cycle, or else is used for cooling, flushing toilets, and garden irrigation.
As a result, we are very close to achieving our vision of a virtually wastewater-free factory at a number of sites!