Key Takeaways from Volvo Group’s New Sustainability Report

Cheryl McMullen, Freelance writer

March 7, 2016

5 Min Read
Key Takeaways from Volvo Group’s New Sustainability Report

Volvo Group, international producer of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines, released its 2015 Annual and Sustainability report last week, listing decreased direct CO2 emissions from production facilities, has carbon-neutral facilities in Belgium and Sweden, has reduced the amount of hazardous waste heading to landfill and has facilities buying 100 percent landfill gas instead of fossil fuels among its successes.

In September, Volvo Group, was ranked among the top 300 companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World, receiving high marks for product stewardship, climate strategy and other sustainability goals. Those high marks also played out in the company’s sustainability report.

The report focuses on the ability to create value for customers, shareholders and other stakeholders in both the short and the long term. The Annual and Sustainability Report 2015 describes, among other things, how all of the Volvo Group’s products, which include Mack trucks, and services have been developed to contribute to efficient and sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions.

Among the takeaways from the report are:

Carbon Emissions from Production

In 2015, Volvo Group decreased its direct CO2 emissions from production facilities from 231,000 tons to 221,000 tons.

The company has production facilities in 19 countries and sells products in 190 markets, reports that approximately 40 percent of its total energy consumption came from low-carbon renewable sources, including hydropower electricity and biomass heating. The Volvo Group has carbon-neutral facilities in Ghent, Belgium, as well as Vara, Tuve and Braås in Sweden. It also has facilities buying 100 percent of their electricity produced from landfill gas instead of fossil fuels.

DME from Food Waste

The Volvo Group claims it’s the world leader in pioneering Dimethyl Ether (DME) as an alternative fuel and field testing continued during 2015 for both Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks. In the US, the production of DME through a process using food waste, was certified.

DME produced from food waste reduces CO2 by 68 percent compared to conventional diesel fuel. Volvo Group truly believes that DME holds great promise for the future. The main interest in DME, as a fuel, lies in the environmental benefits and in the simplicity of the technology as well as the potential for low cost throughout the value chain. In addition, DME does not create soot when combusted and therefore ultralow emissions can be reached without the need for advanced exhaust after-treatment. The Volvo Group will continue developing engines that can operate on DME as a fuel for commercial vehicles with an initial focus on highway applications. In the future DME could be used in most applications.

Environmental Assessment of Chemicals

The 2015 report sets a global environmental standard for production plants requiring processes for health and environmental assessment of all chemicals. Since 1996, to restrict the use of chemicals with unwanted characteristics, the Volvo Group has maintained a ‘black list’ of prohibited chemicals and a ‘grey list’ of products whose use must be limited. The lists are revised annually and serve as tools for substituting harmful substances in Volvo’s production processes.


The Volvo Group’s minimum requirements on production plants include sorting and quantifying all waste at source, implementing measures to reduce the quantity of waste and increase reuse, material recycling and energy recovery as well as reducing the quantity of waste consigned to landfill. Waste is usually classified as either hazardous or non-hazardous. The total amount of hazardous waste in 2015 was 27,824 tons, compared with 24,944 tons in 2014, an increase of nearly 12 percent. Hazardous waste sent to landfill amounted to 1,155 tons.  

Reducing its Industrial Environmental Footprint

The company set a long-term goal to make all production facilities carbon neutral, and a short-term goal for 8 percent energy saving for production sites and reducing CO2 emissions from Volvo Group freight transport by 20 percent by 2020. One hundred percent of all major production plants ISO 14001 certified.

As of 2015, five out of 66 production sites are carbon neutral, energy savings of 45 GWh/year and, approximately 10 percent reduction of emissions from freight transport. Ninety-eight percent of its major production plants were ISO 14001 certified by end of 2015.

Hagerstown Powertrain Production

In order to achieve improvements in energy efficiency, the Powertrain Production team in Hagerstown, Md., completed a number of energy reduction activities, such as reducing diesel usage from three gallons to one-third of a gallon per produced engine, installation of de-stratification fans for improved climate control and identifying and eliminating compressed air leaks. The team won the company’s internal Environmental Award earlier this year for reducing energy usage in their facility, demonstrating a systematic, lean and pragmatic approach with a focus on delivering results, the company said.

“We have achieved 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency over the past five years, and the value of our continuous improvement projects focused on energy reduction has resulted in over one million US dollars of savings per year,” said Matt Saloom, Director, Core Values in Hagerstown, Md.

Reducing Carbon Emissions.

Volvo Group goals include:

• A cumulative reduction of emissions from products and production by at least 40 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2020 compared with 2013.

• Improving energy efficiency in production by implementing energy-saving measures giving 150 GWh/year in savings, which corresponds to 8 percent of the energy use in Volvo Group’s production sites.

• Reducing CO2 emissions per produced unit from the Volvo Group freight transport by 20 percent.

• Hosting the Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) that aims to create a dialogue with construction industry representatives, academia and politicians and address mutual projects for improvement.  GLOBAL GROUP BUSINESS MODEL WWF

Future success, the company said, depends on Volvo’s ability to deliver efficient, innovative and sustainable transport solutions that are converted into positive financial performance.


Production at Volvo Group uses various materials, including metals, such as iron, steel and aluminum. Additional materials are mainly plastic, rubber and electronics components, and its energy sources include renewable energy from wind and hydro generation.

“We are actively reducing the environmental footprint of our global manufacturing, distribution and operations,” the report reads. “Our products and services reduce the impacts of the transport and construction industry on the environment. Our leadership encourages more people and organizations to contribute towards environmental sustainability and thereby reduced costs.”

About the Author(s)

Cheryl McMullen

Freelance writer, Waste360

Cheryl McMullen is a freelance journalist from Akron, Ohio, covering solid waste collection and transfer for Waste360.

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