In a pilot project, Volkswagen‘s Skoda Auto unit is testing biodegradable film for packaging vehicle components shipped to its Indian assembly plant in Pune.

The film protects the parts as effectively as conventional plastic film but can be composted. Three to six months later, the film goes on to help improve the soil at the logistics park in Pune. Employees at the CKD (completely knocked down kits) centre in Skoda’s main plant are implementing this packaging concept, saving around 500kg of conventional plastic film each month.

David Strnad, head of brand logistics said: “Together with our colleagues at the Pune site, we are currently successfully testing the use of corn starch-based film. This has enabled us to halve the amount of conventional plastic packaging used on parts delivered there while providing the same level of protection.”

In order to effectively reduce the amount of plastic film required to wrap the components for shipping to Pune, the logistics department was specifically looking for biodegradable alternatives.

A compostable film was subsequently put to the test at the CKD centre in Mlada Boleslav. Several sample consignments were then checked to see whether they met the strict requirements for shipping overseas in containers. Quality control on the shipment’s arrival in Pune confirmed the components showed neither any signs of damage nor traces of corrosion. To assess whether the packaging could be composted as intended, logistics staff built composters on site using recycled material. In addition to the film, the composters were also filled with other biowaste. Six months later, the film had largely biologically decomposed. The automaker is now testing the innovative film’s suitability for everyday use on a larger scale. July 2020 saw the launch of a pilot project for this purpose, which will initially run until June 2021.

The composted packaging goes on to be used in Pune as organic fertiliser for trees in the logistics park among other things. Since March 2019, employees from the logistics department and visitors alike have had the opportunity to plant a tree in front of the factory gates, transforming former wasteland into a park.

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The site in Pune is also pursuing the implementation of numerous other projects to make its production even more sustainable and to consistently minimise its ecological footprint. In December 2019 Skoda Auto Volkswagen India commissioned one of the country’s largest solar power rooftop installations at the location, reinforcing its commitment to an ecologically sustainable future. The rooftop system consisting of 25,770 photovoltaic panels can cover up to 15% of the plant’s annual electricity requirements. This reduces CO2 emissions resulting from car production by a claimed over 9,000 tonnes a year.