Waste and resource management

The recycling and reuse of raw materials, indirect materials, and supplies in our plants has been a self-evident activity for years. Exceptional circumstances (see the following table) caused the recycling rate to drop to 85 percent in 2014. Our innovative technical processes and environmentally sound production planning additionally enable us to avoid waste from the very start. With a view to meeting our special responsibility as waste producer, we regularly audit the waste disposal operators for our production plants in accordance with an established process. Waste exports into other countries do not take place.

  • Innovative process minimizes waste volumes

    Innovative process minimizes waste and energy consumption

    Prior to painting, bodies in white must be cleaned of metalworking residues in cleaning baths where dirt particles, oil, and grease adhering to the metal are dissolved with the aid of detergents. If such a cleaning bath is to be used as long as possible, the residues dissolved in it must be filtered out of the resulting emulsion. In the past this was done through ultrafiltration. However, since the method uses high-pressure pumps it consumes a great deal of energy. In addition, it is maintenance-intensive, since the filters hold back part of the detergents so that they constantly need replenishing. Moreover, the removed emulsion has to be disposed of as hazardous waste in the end.

    For this reason the plant has introduced a new technology which uses demulsifying cleaning agents. These detergents cannot take up as much oil, but make the process much more environment-friendly on the whole. They have the effect that the separated dirt particles, oil, and grease float on the surface and can be removed easily with the help of belt filters and flotation tanks.

    The new process eliminates 1,800 cubic meters of wastewater annually. In addition, as a result of the high oil filtration efficiency now only around 20 tons of waste oil annually must be recycled – previously, 100 tons of a detergent/oil/water mixture had to be disposed of as hazardous waste. The elimination of the ultrafiltration process additionally cuts annual energy consumption by 390 MWh, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions by some 170 tons. In addition, fewer chemicals are used and the fully automatic process control reduces the maintenance effort. In the final analysis, all this has also led to a clear reduction in operating costs.

 

Waste volumes
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
1,000 t              
               
Waste for disposal 69 43 64 68 65 74 82
Waste for recycling 
(without scrap metal)
228 144 191 214 254 222 232
Scrap metal for recycling 751 544 698 790 778 821 863
Hazardous waste
for disposal
19 25 32 17 22 42 116
Hazardous waste
for recycling
60 44 52 63 66 68 70
The increase in hazardous waste requiring disposal was due to a reclassification of used foundry sand. We have initiated measures to reduce this waste.

Resource management. As a company from an industrial sector which consumes large amounts of materials, we strive to plan material use carefully and to employ finite resources as sparingly as possible. We purchase a large part of the materials used in our vehicles from suppliers in the form of components. Although the environmental effects of purchased components are not directly included in the assessment of our environmental performance, they are taken into account in our holistic assessment of product development and selection of materials. Under this assessment method, which we have used for our passenger cars thus far, we extrapolate the entire use of materials in the production chain in additional consideration of the waste flows. Because of the size and complexity of the Daimler Group, it is impossible to analyze the material flows in greater detail in the context of Sustainability Reporting. However, details on individual model series are provided in the respective life cycle reports.

Topic “Resource efficiency: key to the future”: PDF file (5.4 MB)

Product development and material selection

 

Materials used in vehicle production
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
million t              
               
Metallic materials 3.9 2.7 3.4 3.9 4.0 4.4 4.7
Other materials 1.1 0.8 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
The material balance is based on the known material composition of representative vehicles, multiplied by the number of units sold. The calculation of this Group result is subject to a large number of uncertainties.

Through the use of efficient technologies we have reduced the use of scarce resources to the absolute minimum. We plan the recycling of materials at the end of the product life cycle as early as in the development stage. In addition, we also remanufacture used parts to a great extent. This yields economic benefits for the customers and conserves resources.

Topic “Remanufacturing”: PDF file (5.4 MB)

Recycling of components of electromobility