Nature conservation, land use, and biodiversity
We consider the protection of soil and groundwater to be one of the most important aspects of our commitment to environmental protection. The primary goal in this area is to prevent soil and groundwater from being contaminated in the first place. Whenever possible, we design outdoor areas at our plants in such a way that they can serve as a habitat for indigenous plants and animals, and thereby help maintain biodiversity.
Protection of soil and groundwater. Technical equipment such as catchment trays, double-walled containers, special sealed floor coverings, and leakage warning systems helps prevent water-polluting fluids from leaking into the ground. Our in-house guidelines take into account the wide variety of legal requirements worldwide and provide all of our locations with minimum standards for dealing with contaminated soil or groundwater. In 2011, we registered no accidents which damaged the soil or the groundwater.
Land use. Our production facilities cover a total area of about 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres), around 55 percent of which is covered by buildings, roads, and parking areas. Because land is a limited public asset, we use these surfaces as efficiently as possible – for example through multi-story buildings and high-density construction. Such industrial architecture can also provide a habitat for threatened animal species. One example of this can be found at our plant in Wörth, where peregrine falcons nest on top of a chimney. In cooperation with nature conservation organizations and public agencies, we are increasingly transforming open areas at our plants into species-rich meadows instead of lawns.
We are currently developing a biodiversity indicator in order to make our progress in this area easier to measure. This indicator will categorize outdoor areas not only according to their use but also in line with their environmental value. This indicator will enable us to set quantitative targets in the future so that we can specifically improve this aspect of the environment.
Sustainable land management at the Sindelfingen plant
Our plant in Sindelfingen is pursuing a comprehensive nature conservation concept for promoting biodiversity. The concept’s key feature is a sustainable land management system that is new to the automotive industry. Thanks to standardized processes, this method is significantly more efficient than the range of isolated measures used at the location in the past. To facilitate the system’s implementation, the plant is part of a competence network in which it works together with the NABU bird protection center in Mössingen, the University of Tübingen, the city of Sindelfingen, and the district administration of Böblingen.
To create a basis for sustainable land management at the plant, all of the facility’s grounds were first systematically documented and environmentally assessed. This made it possible to draw up management-compatible parameters and a development strategy with specific implementation targets. The “environmental account” is an important tool for sustainable land management. The account documents the measures implemented for ecologically upgrading land and protecting species. These measures can be used for the company’s benefit if Daimler should later plan to construct new buildings, for example. In addition to safeguarding planning activities, it opens up opportunities for the facility’s further development.
How the environment benefits:
- Hazardous waste sites and natural habitats are accurately documented.
- Degraded areas are systematically reduced and upgraded in order to improve the food supply for native species.
- Biodiversity is promoted in areas suitable for use as habitats (e.g. temporary hives for non-domesticated bees, dry stone walls etc.) as well as by nesting and colonization aids (peregrine falcon nest boxes, noise attractors for common swifts, bat boxes etc.).
- The sustainable nature of the measures is ensured by biomonitoring systems, biotests, and the mapping of lichens.
As a result of these measures, around 16 hectares of environmentally valuable land that can be developed are now permanently protected in Sindelfingen.
Promoting biodiversity at the Gaggenau plant
Biodiversity is also becoming an increasingly important issue for operations-related environmental protection. At the Gaggenau plant, the company wanted to find out what challenges biodiversity would create for the facility and its approximately 6,500 employees. In a first step, all of the planted areas without buildings were thoroughly documented, along with the plant and animal species they harbor. The biologists found areas with a low level of biodiversity as well as areas containing rare plant species and even endangered animals. A total of 40 areas were examined, documented in a geoinformation system, and categorized according to their value as biotopes.
On the basis of these results, the facility has taken initial steps for promoting biodiversity on its grounds. Among other things, it set up nest boxes and a noise attractor to encourage common swifts to colonize the area. In cooperation with the Rastatt chapter of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Baden-Württemberg’s Office of the Environment, Measurements, and Nature Conservation (LUBW), and members of the Naturgarten association, the plant is currently planning measures for promoting biodiversity in the areas best suited for this purpose. In addition to building dry stone walls and creating areas of nutrient-poor grassland, the facility is planning to attract certain plant species and set up various nesting and breeding aids, especially for assisting plant and animal species from Baden-Württemberg’s list of 111 species that are particularly in need of help. These measures will allow biodiversity to be permanently improved with little effort. This example shows that even seemingly useless areas at industrial facilities can contribute to nature conservation.
Wanaherang: Higher environmental standards, better nature conservation
In August 2009 Mercedes-Benz Indonesia became the first company in the world to obtain TÜV Rheinland’s Eco-Industry Certificate. This internationally recognized environmental certificate honors the company’s continuous reduction of its energy and water consumption and its improvement of its waste management system in order to minimize the environmental impact of its operations.
Mercedes-Benz Indonesia, which had already received ISO 14001 certification in 2005, was able to build on its high environmental standards and the great environmental consciousness of its employees when it applied for the Eco-Industry Certificate. The company’s environmental performance was further boosted by the many additional measures that were implemented in order to obtain certification. Sample measures include the Blue Sky Batavia CO2 reduction program, which involves planting a tree for every vehicle sold.
At Mercedes-Benz Indonesia’s Wanaherang location, the environmental program not only reduced energy consumption between 2009 and 2011 (commercial vehicle segment: –20 percent; cars: –35 percent; administrative areas: –30 percent), it also improved nature conservation and helped protect plant and animal species. The newly planted trees helped conserve natural resources and slow down soil erosion, while also noticeably improving biodiversity.
Saltillo: Reforestation in the desert
At our truck facility in Saltillo, Mexico, sustainability and environmental protection played a major role as early as the construction phase. The plant uses innovative solutions in order to prevent emissions and conserve natural resources. These measures go far beyond just conserving water, which is quite scarce at the plant’s desert location. In fact, the protection of rare plant and animal species played a major role from the very start, which is why the facility planted endangered yucca palms, for example, and also carefully protected an owl’s nest in order to preserve the birds’ habitat. The plant also drew up a reforestation plan that will help promote biodiversity. About 1,000 dwarf pines were planted around the facility, and employees sponsored 150 additional trees that were planted near the factory.
Natural pest control in Brazil
Because the Mercedes-Benz do Brasil plant in São Bernardo do Campo is located close to the Billings Dam and the nature preserves of the Serra do Mar State Park, the company tried to find environmentally friendly methods for combating pests on the facility’s grounds. Together with an external service provider, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil therefore developed a system known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). It combines findings from animal behavior research with the use of alternative pest control methods in place of chemical ones. Traps, natural predators, and neem oil (a biological product) are now used to combat pests in the plant’s park areas, for example. As a result, the facility’s grounds now harbor many bird species that are very sensitive to chemical pest control measures.
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