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IN BUSINESS

Family-run company carbon-neutral starting in 2020 – five years ahead of schedule

Vöslauer sets milestone in climate protection

Vöslauer Mineralwasser GmbH

Climate protection is one of the most challenging issues of our time and in order to meet the climate targets from the Paris global climate summit, it will take active cooperation from companies in addition to political intervention.

“At Vöslauer, we have been working on topics related to sustainability and environmentally friendly and resourceefficient production for around 15 years now. In this context, we are once again very pleased to already be realising two of our most important sustainability goals this year, five years ahead of schedule: Our entire range of PET bottles will be made of 100 % rePET (recycled PET) – a measure we introduced in Germany and are now expanding to Austria, as well – and our production will be carbon-neutral. Because we firmly believe that we as a company have to be part of the solution in order to advance sustainable development at all levels,” explains Birgit Aichinger, managing director of Vöslauer. For Vöslauer, carbon neutrality means measuring all CO2 emissions in order to continuously reduce, prevent, or offset them. “We have already been very successful in this regard up to now, because the numerous measures we took from 2006 to 2018 reduced our CO2 emissions by more than half. The carbon footprint of our products was cut from 197 g to 90 g per filled bottle. One of the major aspects of this success was the partial use of recycled material in our PET bottles,” says Vöslauer managing director Herbert Schlossnikl.

 

More CO2 savings through  100 % rePET and returnable glass bottles

In 2018, Vöslauer became the first company in Austria to produce a PET bottle made of 100 % rePET. This groundbreaking innovation and further material reductions for all Vöslauer bottles – including returnable glass bottles – led to additional CO2 savings for the family-run company. A key goal in these efforts was to maintain the high quality of the products. The conversion of the entire PET range to 100 % rePET – now on the company’s primary market of Austria as well – will be completed in March 2020 and represents an exemplary contribution to promoting a circular economy and climate protection. “These measures will lead to further CO2 reductions in the future,” says Schlossnikl emphatically. In addition, the company will further expand its range of returnable glass bottles.

Vöslauer’s sustainability efforts also include energy efficiency projects in the area of production as well as the operation of its own photovoltaic system, the introduction of corresponding standards for production processes, and increasing the share of rail transport. In addition, Vöslauer became a member of the WWF Climate Group in January 2020 and supports the klimaaktiv pakt2020 climate pact. “It’s particularly important to us for our entire company – including the thermal spa – and our entire product assortment to be climate-neutral. And that’s why we decided to offset the remaining CO2 emissions with high-quality climate protection certificates,” continues Aichinger.

“We’re happy that Vöslauer is becoming carbon-neutral. Carbon neutrality is a credible step when it is part of a comprehensive climate strategy – and Vöslauer has shown a particularly high level of dedication here during our collaboration over the years. Whether with renewable energy, energy efficiency, or through the use of recycled material – Vöslauer has consistently reduced its carbon footprint throughout the value creation chain. Under these conditions, carbon neutrality through support for climate protection projects fits into a coherent overall climate strategy,” explains sustainability expert Christian Plas, managing partner of denkstatt GmbH.

 

FACTS & FIGURE

Climate protection projects at a glance

 

Safe  Community Water Supply Rwanda

The Safe Community Water Supply Rwanda project is certified according to the Gold Standard® and restores, repairs, and maintains existing boreholes in order to provide Rwandan communities with clean drinking water.

Fig 1: Safe  Community Water Supply Rwanda Photo credit: Vöslauer

Guacamaya Small Scale Hydropower:

This project is also certified according to the Gold Standard® and supports the development of small scale run-ofriver power plants in Central America that can be operated completely independently by the communities.

Fig 2: The Musi River Hydro project in Indonesia  Photo credit: Vöslauer

The Musi River Hydro project

The Musi River Hydro project in Indonesia is certified according to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Social Carbon® and utilises a natural difference in elevation to generate hydroelectricity for the island of Sumatra without a retaining dam and with minimal encroachments into the natural environment.

Fig 3: Guacamaya Small Scale Hydropower Photo credit: Vöslauer

www.voeslauer.com 

 

Rethinking the future – preventing, reducing, and offsetting the carbon footprint

In order to offset the remaining CO2 emissions, Vöslauer invests in three international climate protection projects, which will make the distribution of all of its products carbon-neutral in future. Working together with specialists, the company selected three projects to support in order to contribute to climate protection.

“Committing to the idea of being a climate-neutral company means constantly working to prevent or reduce CO2 emissions that occur in the company. Despite extensive measures that have been taken to minimise the carbon footprint, there are still greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be cut through reduction measures. These unavoidable emissions are offset with emissions certificates. By voluntarily purchasing high- quality certificates, Vöslauer supports international climate protection projects in order to counterbalance its own emissions in a credible and exemplary manner. This certified offset occurs by creating CO2 savings somewhere else in the same amount as the CO2 emissions that are caused,” explains Heinz Sares, a sustainability expert and CO2 emissions specialist at Zukunftswerk. “It’s crucial to think on a global basis here, because the atmospheric balance of the entire earth is influenced.”

 

Entire company carbon-neutral starting in 2020

Vöslauer’s operations are carbonneutral, which means that its greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced to the furthest extent possible and the remaining emissions are offset by supporting selected climate protection projects. “We made a conscious decision to support water-related projects because this allows us to promote access to clean drinking water and to invest in the future of renewable energy as the basis for sustainable growth through hydropower projects. Water is not just the focus of our business, but also the basis of all life, so making a contribution in this area is a cause that is close to our hearts,” stresses Aichinger. Schlossnikl adds, “When selecting the projects, we placed particular emphasis on making sure that they are organised according to the highest ecological and social standards and are a good fit for our company.”

 

Vöslauer already meets many sustainability targets of the Austrian government programme today

With its measures to achieve full carbon neutrality, Vöslauer already meets a number of the requirements of the new government programme related to sustainability and environmental protection in Austria. An essential aspect here is the absolute commitment to the circular economy. Along with the expansion of the returnable glass bottle range, this includes the extension of 100% rePET to the entire PET product line, enabling discarded bottles to be reused to create new bottles. “With these measures – starting with the use of secondary raw materials to ensuring that all of our products are recyclable and all the way through to our returnable bottle offerings – we are already meeting the requirements of tomorrow today. And we are orienting our activities to the philosophy of ‘reuse, reduce, and recycle’ in every way we can,” emphasises Aichinger.

Birgit Aichinger and Herbert Schlossnikl are firmly committed to this approach: “In order to achieve a sustainable future and a clean environment, we have to rethink our possibilities, which requires courage, flexibility, and a high level of personal responsibility. With this in mind, we intend to continue working to reduce our carbon footprint in future in order to make our contribution to promoting climate protection.”