Motor manufacturer spreads the message of environmental protection to younger generation
- Mercedes-Benz South Africa East London plant hosts its 8th annual Schools Environmental Expo
- Carbon footprint reduction programmes at MBSA gaining momentum
East London/ The Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) automotive plant in East London carries on a rich tradition of ensuring that environmental issues are top of mind, as it hosts 1 000 local learners at its annual Schools Environmental Exhibition on
2 August 2012. The event has been a standard part of the company’s annual calendar since 2004.
Communication around the importance of environmental protection and conservation is a significant element of the global Daimler AG strategy to be the leader in sustainable mobility. This drives the commitment by the company, and all its subsidiaries like MBSA, to strike a balance between economic, ecological and social issues.
“We believe that the survival and viability of our world tomorrow is dependent on creating the correct mindset amongst citizens today. The youth of our city and country need to be the custodians of that tomorrow, and as the current leaders in industry, government and society, we must pass on the baton of responsibility to them through education,” says MBSA manufacturing plant leader, Arno van der Merwe.
The concept of sustainable mobility, to which the company aspires globally, further involves prioritising environmental management in both its manufacturing activities as well as product development. “From the processes used in building our cars, to research and development into greener combustion engines, hybridisation and emission free driving through electric vehicles, the company’s commitment to a greener future is firm,” van der Merwe adds.
In terms of its impact on the environment, MBSA focuses its processes on reducing the carbon footprint in its office environment and its production facility, in line with targets set by Daimler AG. By 2011, the plant had reduced its CO2 emissions by 49%, surpassing the five-year target of 20% reduction by the end of 2012 set by Daimler AG, despite the fact that the plant is currently revamping its facilities in preparation for the start of production of its new vehicle model in 2014. Energy conservation plays a major role in CO2 reduction, and is monitored rigorously by an internal Energy Forum.
Other areas of environmental conservation that receive priority, and are scrutinised regularly by the plant’s dedicated environmental management team, include waste separation and recycling, water usage reduction and eradication of invasive plants. Contractors and on-site suppliers are also closely monitored in terms of the impact their operations have on the environment.
In 2010 a 42% reduction in the water usage per vehicle produced was registered compared to 2009. This is attributed mostly to the improved monitoring and measurement systems in place. A slight increase recorded in 2011 compared to 2010 resulted due to construction of facilities for the new model that started during the year.
The manufacturing plant has won several awards for its best practises, including the 2009 Daily Dispatch Environmental Excellence Award and the 2010 Top Green Organisation Award by the Institute of Waste Management South Africa in conjunction with the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs.
MBSA also invested in environmental education when it contributed to the establishment of the Mercedes-Benz Coastal Education and Visitors’ Centre in the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve near East London. The facility specialises in education and awareness of our natural heritage, as well as focussing on conserving the wealth of coastal biodiversity.
During the annual Schools Environmental exhibition, MBSA brings together other environmental stakeholders to present a united force for good. These include: the Institute of Waste Management, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, as well as the Buffalo City Municipality.
Learners will be entertained and informed by an interactive drama performance as well as a series of educational exhibits centred on the theme.