The battle against climate change is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of our day and age. More than ever, therefore, the economy is also expected to make a significant contribution towards a solution. As a family-owned company now in its fourth generation, Miele is rising to its responsibilities: From 2021 onwards, the Gütersloh company will be CO2 neutral across all its locations. This refers to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its own production processes (Scope 1) as well as those in power generation at its energy suppliers (Scope 2).
By Romanita Oprea
Miele subscribes to the objectives of the Paris Climate Accord of limiting global warming compared with the pre-industrial era to clearly below 2°C or, better than that, to below 1.5°C. ‘As a manufacturing company, we are fully aware of our responsibility in both the upstream and downstream value creation chains and have therefore set ourselves ambitious long-term goals’, explains Executive Director and Co-Proprietor Dr. Markus Miele. For this purpose, the company joined the so-called Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in January and hence commits to pursuing reductions in emissions based on scientific evidence. This includes long-term goals along the entire value-creation chain, for example in the sourcing of raw materials, during product use, at the disposal stage and in transportation (Scope 3).
In order to achieve CO2 neutrality, the first step involves drastically reducing direct CO2 emissions at production facilities (Scope 1) as a result, for example, of heating and the consumption of electricity and fuels. Similar applies to indirect CO2 emissions from electricity generation at energy supply companies (Scope 2). The objective is to reduce calculatory CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 compared with 2019. With emissions standing at 90,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2019, this corresponds to a reduction of around 45,000 tonnes. To meet these targets, in-house electricity generation using PV arrays will be massively increased over the coming years. In April of this year, a PV installation at Miele’s Chinese plant in Dongguan covering an area of just under 8150 square meters went online, covering around one third of the plant’s electricity requirements. This measure alone will cut CO2 emissions by more than 1600 tonnes every year. Additional PV generating plants are planned both at Miele’s headquarters in Gütersloh and at other production sites.
Goal of long-term reduction of CO2 footprint
At the same time, Miele is converting its entire electricity supply network worldwide to renewable sources of energy to the tune of more than 165,000 MWh per annum. Miele sources its electricity from renewable sources directly from the local utility or as green energy from certifiable sources via so-called Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs). The electricity generated comes from wind power or PV arrays which are less than 10 years old and carry the internationally recognised EKOenergy label. Each generated MWh with this label is linked to an additional contribution to a climate fund which promotes the expansion of renewable energies. A further source in future will be long-term energy supply contracts, so-called Power Purchase Agreements, under which electricity comes from nearby wind farms and PV installations.
In addition to this, the company intends to further reduce its energy consumption – in order to save a further 30 GWh by 2030 and sustainably improve its own CO2 footprint.
‘We have already achieved considerable success over recent years, including many improvements which serve as a foundation to build on in future’, explains Dr. Stefan Breit, Executive Director responsible for technology.
The family-owned company sees potential for reducing emissions for instance in its fleet of vehicles, where saving of up to 30% are possible. In order to reduce CO2 emissions all along the supply chain (Scope 3), innovative and sustainable technologies with the potential to reduce the CO2 footprint in this area in the long term are trialled in pilot projects.
CO2 emissions which cannot be avoided in the short term through a switch to green-sourced energy or through reducing consumption are offset by Miele in high-end compensation projects. Internationally certified standards and criteria as well as verifications by independent third parties ensure the maintenance of quality standards. ‘All the projects shortlisted have been critically reviewed and carefully selected’, says Breit. This results in the domestic appliance company for example supporting the use of solar-thermal plants in India to supply environmentally friendly energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In a biogas project in Nepal, biomass is used as a source of energy which dispenses with the environmentally damaging use of firewood for cooking. A link to the company’s products results in support for an agro-forestry project and sustainable coffee plantations in Nicaragua. Technical and financial support benefits local farmers there in managing their plantations in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Reforestation projects in Uganda, a country which has lost over 40% of its forests over the past 20 years, and in the US state of Mississippi are further beneficiaries. The scheme to replant new hardwood forests is located in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley which counts as one of the most important deciduous ecosystems in North America.
As technology leader in its branch of industry, Miele also supports the promotion of innovative technological approaches to reducing CO2 levels or separation and sequestering of carbon. A project in Austria and Germany, for instance, will receive support in removing CO2 from the atmosphere and capturing the carbon for agricultural use.
With the decision to achieve ‘Scope 1’ and ‘Scope 2’ CO2 neutrality this year, Miele is consistent in expanding its commitment to the environment and climate protection which already spans decades.
‘Sustainability is an integral part of the DNA of our company which originates in the philosophy of our founding fathers of placing their trust in particularly long-lasting products’, explains Markus Miele.
The ambitiousness and diversity of the goals and measures aimed at greater sustainability is documented by Miele every two years in its comprehensive sustainability reports (www.miele.com/sustainability).