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June 7, 2017

SEAT aims to slash environmental footprint

VW Group brand SEAT is aiming to reduce by half its environmental footprint by 2025, compared with its 2010 consumption and emissions figures.

By David Leggett

VW Group brand SEAT is aiming to reduce by half its environmental footprint by 2025, compared with its 2010 consumption and emissions figures.

In fact, by the end of 2016, the company had already improved its five major environmental indicators (energy and water consumption, as well as the generation of waste, volatile compounds and CO2) by 33.6%. With this figure, the company successfully concluded the challenge of improving its environmental impact by 25% by 2018 a full two years ahead of schedule.

Improving these indicators is framed within the Ecomotive Factory Plan, SEAT’s environmental strategy in the scope of vehicle production. The Plan provides for a series of measures and projects to maximise resources and minimise emissions in all of the company’s production processes.

Thanks to the implementation of the Plan in 2011, SEAT says it has successfully lowered its CO2 emissions by 66.2% with measures such as heat recovery during processes, the efficient control of air conditioning and thermal insulation, external heat supply driven by biomass energy or the purchase of green energy, among others.

In addition, the company has generated 41.4% less waste and 16.2% fewer volatile organic compounds thanks to the selective sorting of packaging or the substitution of certain solvents and waxes used in the production process. Energy and water consumption have been reduced by 21.7% and 22.5% with measures such as lowering the temperature in some manufacturing processes or installing new filters in the rain test when verifying the water tightness of cars.

SEAT vice-president for Production Dr. Andreas Tostmann underlined the company’s commitment to lowering its environmental impact and optimising its resources, which has led to an increase in its investments and sustainability projects. “In 2016 we invested close to EUR23m to improve our environmental performance. It is a great satisfaction to be able to claim today that we have already reached the goal we set for ourselves for 2018 and that we have an ambitious target for 2025”, he added.

The Ecomotive Factory Plan is set within the framework of SEAT PQT strategy (Production, Quality and Team), designed to enhance productivity and quality at the Martorell, Barcelona and SEAT Componentes facilities and respond to the future challenges of the automotive sector. This strategy is a proven success and was recognised in 2015 with the Lean & Green Management Award to the Martorell factory for being the most efficient in the European automotive industry, and a special mention to quality at the 2016 Factory of the Year Awards, for the efficiency and sustainability of its processes.

SEAT al Sol and other benchmark projects

The combined actions included in the Ecomotive Factory Plan have led to the reduction of energy consumption per vehicle produced by around 20% since 2010. Compared with the sector average in Europe, SEAT consumes approximately half of the energy required to produce a vehicle, 23% less water and emits 65% less CO2.

The implementation of LED lighting fixtures, improved insulation of facilities and workshops or the recovery of heat and cold for air conditioning are just some of the measures that have been implemented. In addition, 50% of the energy consumed by SEAT comes from renewable sources, and 100% in the case of electricity.

Specific mention goes to the optimisation of water and the savings achieved through actions such as water recovery using a second reverse osmosis stage, which enables waste water to be partially tapped; the use of condensate water from air conditioners, or the several improvements introduced in the rain test purification and filtration systems, among many others.

SEAT al Sol is the most emblematic project in the company’s environmental strategy. Inaugurated in 2013, it is the largest solar power plant in the automotive industry covering an area of 276,000 m2, the equivalent of 40 football pitches. The Martorell plant is equipped with close to 53,000 solar panels and produces enough energy in a year to charge 3m phones a day. In addition, it has successfully prevented 8,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, which is the same as 10 times the amount that gets absorbed by New York’s Central Park.

Another benchmark project features the self-illuminating access bridges at the Martorell factory. The combination of walkable tiles that generate 0.1 KWh/day with tiles that capture solar energy lights up the East-1 and East-2 access bridges. A further highlight among the measures implemented in 2016 is the energy recovery project, which involves installing cells in the paint stacks that convert heat into electricity. In addition, the company is also implementing actions to raise awareness of the environmental strategy among the workforce, together with setting up information points around the factory.

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