ZKW Converting to Co2-neutral Production Worldwide by 2025
Energy savings, waste avoidance and the conversion to green power reinforce sustainable, eco-friendly production – all ZKW products projected to be CO₂-neutral by 2038
Sustainable business is a central concern of both the ZKW Group and its customers. As part of its group-wide “Corporate Sustainability Project,” ZKW is working harder to avoiding waste, save resources and implement environmental protection measures at its sites in Austria, Slovakia, Mexico, the US, China and South Korea. The goal is to develop and manufacture products more efficiently and more sustainably. ZKW is focusing on energy-efficient production machines that reduce CO2 output. Green power will also be used by the plants in Wieselburg and Wiener Neustadt beginning in 2022. In Krušovce, ZKW has built Slovakia’s first company building with a class A0 energy label – an award given for the building’s uniquely eco-friendly and energy-saving design. The plant’s staff is contributing by developing a waste separation and prevention initiative and by recycling. The plant in Silao/Mexico was also constructed according to innovative, environmentally-friendly standards. In addition, the employees are supporting local environmental protection by planting 240 trees in the La Purisima natural conservation area. “As a global player, we are aware of our social and corporate responsibility. Because of this, we are converting our production sites to CO2-neutral production by 2025. We want to take an active role in shaping climate protection, and take a close look at the CO₂ footprints of our products” explains Oliver Schubert, CEO of the ZKW Group.
Comprehensive sustainability concept
The ZKW sustainability concept is based on three pillars: Production, product and personnel. Specifically, the light and electronic specialist company is focusing on energy efficiency and purchasing renewable energy sources, such as green power, as well as avoiding waste in production. Sustainable investments, such as the award-winning company building at the Slovakian site in Krušovce, are another key component of the concept. In addition, the company is promoting employee engagement for environmental protection and sustainability through the “Global sustainability idea challenge.” The next step is making all ZKW products CO₂ neutral by 2038. In addition to CO₂ neutral production at all sites, the plan also covers the upstream supply chain.
The energy efficiency measures carried out by ZKW in Wieselburg and Wiener Neustadt include heat recovery, efficient cooling and heating, and avoiding waste by optimizing consumption. Since the majority of ZKW’s emissions come from electricity usage, this area holds the greatest potential for savings. The Wieselburg site covers part of its energy requirements with an in-house hydroelectric plant, purchasing the rest from the public grid – as of early 2022, the purchased electricity will come from green power. The other Austrian ZKW sites will also be Co2-neutral by this date (Wiener Neustadt, Haag, Dietach). The international sites plan to purchase green power certificates. “The central goal of our strategy is to increase energy efficiency, use renewable energy sources, and compensate for our remaining emissions” says Schubert.
Employees develop sustainable ideas
Employee attitudes are an important part of the sustainability concept: As part of the “Global Deep Dive Idea Challenge,” employees worldwide submitted 498 ideas related to the topic of sustainability. The suggestions ranged from optimizing production to innovative solutions and process improvements. The winner of the challenge, which was worth 100,000 euros, presented a repairable, resource-saving headlamp, a work environment developed specifically to meet ZKW’s needs (idea incubator) for new, sustainable ideas, and a fully compostable film for the manufacturing process based on natural resources. The staff at ZKW’s Slovakian plant in Krušovce likewise got involved for sustainability and environmental protection. During “Volunteer Day,” employees collected wood pallets, metal drums and cardboard boxes under the motto of “Things deserve a second chance,” then used them to manufacture pallet furniture, raised beds, compost containers and rain barrels. In addition, they got involved in the clothing drive for socially disadvantaged individuals, and helped renovate playgrounds and separate waste through a collaboration with the city of Topoľčany.
Environmentally-friendly, sustainable investment
The ZKW plant in Krušovce, where headlamps and fog lamps are manufactured and new lighting systems developed, was built using a uniquely energy-saving, environmentally-friendly design. The production halls are heated with waste heat from the injection molding machines. The heated air in the halls is collected in rooftop climate control systems with high-efficiency exchanger systems, then used for hot water preparation. The production warehouse is illuminated with energy-saving LED lights. These measures allowed the building to achieve a class A0 energy label. That makes the ZKW plant in Krušovce the first production warehouse in Slovakia with an A0 certificate. ZKW Slovakia has already received the “Building of the Year” award from ABF Slovakia for its design.
Phase 2 of the plant expansion has been completed in the ZKW plant in Silao. During the expansion, ZKW concentrated on creating a design with highly efficient HVAC systems (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) and full LED lighting, with the goal of saving energy through lower power consumption and through the control systems. With this investment, ZKW is once again underscoring that it can reduce its ecological footprint through proactively managing environmental impacts.
Environmental campaign at ZKW in Mexico
For the second time, the ZKW site in the Mexican city of Silao has supported reforestation of over 2,000 square meters, with employees planting 240 native trees in the “Presa de la Purisima” conservation area. The campaign was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and Regional Development. As part of the program “Environmental eduction in industry,” ZKW intends to sensitize its workforce to the importance of conserving regional mesquite trees. “As a global company that is continually expanding and plans to add over 600 employees in Silao in coming years, we want to take on responsibility for the environment and continuously reduce our resource consumption. Our goal is to shrink the ecological footprint of our products throughout their entire service life” says Jan Seumenicht, General Plant Manager at ZKW Mexico.
The goal is to demonstrate sustainable thinking as part of the corporate culture. To achieve this goal, internal campaigns have also been conducted, such as the “ECO-Friday Campaign,” which concentrates on saving water and on social responsibility.