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Environment

 

In the early 1990s, Continental introduced a corporate-wide environmental management system and extended its corporate strategy to include ecological targets and measures. Whereas in the early years the focus lay on conserving finite resources together with reducing harmful emissions and the company’s environmental footprint, the scope of our current environmental management system now goes way beyond these objectives. Sustainable management at all stages of the value chain and throughout the entire life cycles of our products is now an integral part of our philosophy. This responsibility is gradually being implemented more widely in the supply chain so that we can continue to ingrain our strategic alignment as a sustainable company.

The environmental strategy for 2020 makes up the framework of our environmental management policy, and outlines a number of clear objectives, indicators, and measures. In 2016, we started updating our environmental strategy for the time up to 2030, aligning ourselves with the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The development of our strategy along the lines of the SDGs represents a further step toward global responsibility.

Environmental strategy and value creation
By committing ourselves to extensive sustainability goals, we are not only acting responsibly toward the environment and society – we are also thinking and acting in a forward-looking manner and in the interests of creating value for our company. We see the challenges that lie ahead – such as climate change, globalization and urbanization – as opportunities. These opportunities not only require our innovative prowess and the development of innovative technologies and efficient products, they also boost our competitiveness.

In the reporting year, Continental generated around a third of consolidated sales through products that are exceptionally energy efficient and/or reduce CO2 emissions. Our environmental strategy and the achievement of our environmental targets pay off ecologically and economically.

Remanufacturing – sustainable growth driver in the automotive industry
Remanufacturing is part of our environmental strategy and supports the circular economy principles in terms of recycling products and product components. Rather than manufacturing products from scratch, non-functioning components are either repaired or partially replaced with new ones. This is particularly worthwhile when a product comprises both extremely durable components and wearable parts. In this way, the larger durable component is retained and does not have to be produced from scratch.

We not only protect the environment and conserve resources with energy and material savings of up to 90%, but also reduce CO2 emissions per component, for example, by between 50% and 90%. At the same time, we also cut our costs and can pass these savings on to our customers through cheaper prices compared with new parts. In the reporting period, we expanded remanufacturing activities further and now offer an even broader range of replacement parts. Our original equipment customers call for remanufacturing in the production phase when components are still being developed because it is a worthwhile and resource-efficient principle. Auto repair shops are also very interested in this because having recycled products enables them to offer their customers an additional high-quality, reasonably priced product line alongside new parts.

The quality of recycled products is a top priority for us, which is why wearable parts are replaced only with new original Continental parts. Before they leave our plant, remanufactured parts have to pass the same tests as production parts. This means 100% performance and reliability with just 10% of the energy and raw materials costs, which is why we want to continue to expand our range of recycled parts.

Action plan to protect drinking water
Ecological problems and economic risks are closely intertwined. This is plain to see with the issue of water. Around 41% of the world’s population is currently living in regions that, in part, experience extreme water shortages; 800 million people have no access to clean drinking water; and in many countries wastewater is still finding its way inexplicably into the water cycle. These and other problems will continue to intensify as a result of climate change, and at the latest then, there will be an economic impact – even for local companies. To prepare ourselves to tackle future risks, while at the same time making a contribution to sustainable development, we will place the issue of water higher on our environmental strategy agenda. An action plan for this will be formulated in 2017. It will contain a detailed water risk analysis and also prescribe regionspecific objectives for the company locations.

Water consumption

Water consumption

Our role in the G20/B20 process
In November 2016, our chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Elmar Degenhart, was appointed co-chair of the Energy, Climate, and Resource Efficiency Taskforce within the scope of the B20 process (Business 20, B20). In this role, Dr. Degenhart represents the whole automotive and automotive supplier industry. The B20 group represents 20 of the world’s leading industrial and emerging countries: the G20. The mission of the B20 is to support the G20 with specific recommended actions, representation of interests, and expertise. The work of the taskforce focuses on formulating recommended measures on behalf of politicians that will make a key contribution to meeting the targets of the agreement reached at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris. The spotlight will be on the automotive industry, in particular, and its contribution through climate-friendly products and the accelerated expansion of digitalization, as well as the associated efficient driving style of vehicles.

Within the taskforce, Continental is prioritizing a combined approach, which involves, on the one hand, extending the emissions trading system and, on the other hand, investing the money acquired through this in the expansion of broadband technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

Through the cross-sector expansion of regenerative energies and the supply infrastructure, the automotive industry has the additional task of maximizing the potential for further CO2 reductions. Both approaches boost the innovative capabilities and competitiveness of the automotive industry and allow it to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly products.

Sustainability in the supply chain
Sustainable and resource-efficient management within our supply chain as well is a key component of our environmental strategy. We promote and demand that our suppliers adopt a comprehensive environmental management policy and give them precise assistance in developing suitable energy and environmental management systems. At our Mexican locations of Jalisco and Guanajuato, we initiated a development partnership in 2015, which we continued in the reporting year. The project involves providing Mexican suppliers with training in sustainability and environmental protection. In 2016, we carried out a total of six on-site training sessions involving our suppliers’ employees and environmental experts. Areas of focus for the workshops and advice sessions included reduction of CO2 emissions, water management, waste prevention, and training on the adoption of environmental management systems in accordance with ISO 14001.

Improved environmental reporting
Since 2009, we have been responding on an annual basis to the extensive questions of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) regarding our climate protection endeavors. Once a year, the organization publishes the environmental data of specific companies and assesses their environmental performance with respect to CO2 emissions. These publications are based on company data and information on CO2 emissions, the risks of these emissions for the climate, and the strategies and targets being pursued by participating companies for reducing emissions. The CDP then assesses these companies in relation to data transparency, target attainment, and management responsibility for global climate goals.

In 2016, Continental was once again given an improved rating compared with the previous year. Our rating was upgraded from level C to level B. This upgrade is testament to our active management for climate protection, and makes us one of the best companies in the automotive sector.

CO2-emissions

CO2-emissions

Assessing third-party emissions
Our environmental reporting is based on the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Data is collected based largely on our internal guidelines for environmental reporting, taking into account the specific situations of the Automotive Group and the Rubber Group. In the reporting year, in addition to CO2 emissions caused by combustion in our plants and purchased energy, known as scope 1 and scope 2, we also calculated the emissions caused by third-parties – by their services and preliminary services purchased from them (scope 3). The most significant sources comprise raw-materials consumption, logistics and transportation, waste, and upstream-chain emissions from the energy we use. The aim of this analysis is to gain a better understanding of the emissions generated by all of our business operations and to identify ways to reduce these emissions further.

Energy consumption

Energy consumption

Performance indicators with clear targets
We have set ourselves clear targets: to reduce our CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption, and waste generation by 20% – in relation to adjusted sales, using 2013 as a basis – by 2020. We also intend to improve our waste recycling and reuse rate by two percentage points a year and make certification to environmental standard ISO 14001 compulsory for our strategic suppliers as well. Under these circumstances, we have defined an extensive catalog of individual measures that all serve the same goal, that is to continuously improve our environmental performance.

As in previous years, all environmental performance figures were audited as part of an independent limited assurance audit by auditing firm KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft.

Waste generation and disposal

Waste generation and disposal

Sustainability in production
In the reporting year, we awarded our internal Green Label Plant Award in a global context for the first time. Since 2015, the aim of this award has been to increase sustainability in production within the Automotive Group – in particular, resource efficiency with regard to energy, water, and waste – and further improve our environmental performance. Winners receive either gold, silver, or bronze awards, depending on the extent to which sustainable management has been established at the respective locations. All production sites are expected to reach at least bronze status by 2020 – at the end of 2016, 28% of locations had achieved this status.

Accolades in the reporting year
In October 2016, we won the gold Materialica Design + Technology Award in the “CO2 Efficiency” category. Continental impressed the jury with its ultra-lightweight transmission adapter, which weighs less than half as much as its aluminum predecessor, thanks to the use of fiberglass-reinforced polyamide. Continental was rewarded for the major advancements it has made with this component in the field of lightweight technology. The component is being used primarily in premium-class cars, whose specific convenience, comfort and safety requirements have, up to now, gone hand in hand with greater weight. Using more lightweight and hence more highly functional materials saves fuel and lowers emissions – even in this vehicle segment. Continental also received the Altair Enlighten Award 2016 and the Lightweight Technology Innovation Award 2016 for its lightweight components.

Our “Taraxagum – Tires Made from Dandelion Rubber” project won no less than two awards in September. Tire prototypes made from natural rubber from the Russian dandelion plant were presented with the Innovation Award and the Green Award at Automechanika in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. We manufacture Taraxagum in an innovative production process from latex sap, which we obtain from the Russian dandelion plant. The use of this new kind of rubber lowers CO2 emissions because it can be cultivated directly at the production site – which means it does not have to be transported all the way from the rubber belt around the equator. The first round of limited-production tires proves that dandelion rubber performs just as well as traditional natural rubber.

In October, Continental was presented with the Bavarian Energy Award 2016 in Nuremberg for a new block-type thermal power plant. The plant with a combined heat and power system is powered by natural gas, saving enough energy a year to supply around 350 households. In addition to heat and cold, it also supplies 1.3 megawatts of power, meeting a third of the electricity requirements of our Franconian location. Boasting a utilization rate of almost 80% of the energy used, the power plant supports our plans cut energy consumption and CO2 emissions by an average of 20% by 2020.

In November, the Benecke-Kaliko Group business unit received a special sustainability prize at the Inovyn Awards ceremony. The award acknowledged Dynactiv Power, the energy-generating cover for water reservoirs. This opaque vinyl sheet is suitable for protecting large areas of water against pollution and evaporation in countries with lengthy dry seasons. This innovative cover retains up to 40% more water, which can be used to irrigate arable land, for example. The integrated solar modules also supply nearby households and pumping stations with self-sufficient electricity at the same time.

For more information about the environment and for our latest GRI Report, please visit www.continental-sustainability.com..

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