In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Claudia Maasdorp.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In the new “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In the third part of the series, Claudia Maasdorp, Project Manager for Sustainability in Production, explains why not only can everyone get involved in protecting the climate, but everyone should start with themselves.
Claudia Maasdorp, if the BMW Group has reduced CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 2030 per vehicle in production compared to 2019, then you will have achieved a great deal. What is your current focus?
Claudia Maasdorp: At the moment, I am working intensively on energy issues in production, on heat recovery and on re-using energy losses. But the question is: where and how do we save CO2? Typical measures prevent or reduce energy consumption, often replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. But to achieve the energy transition, we need to go further and preserve resources in the process. For example, we are testing how much energy we can recover in production using the braking energy from the robots – there is also very high potential for e-vehicles in road traffic. We need similar pilot projects and ideas covering all resources.
Is CO2-free production realistic?
Maasdorp: I think so. It’s a mindset issue more than anything else. The mindset is: I just have to make a start. And 'I' means every single person. Looking at the total use of resources, across all departments, in every little place. That’s what matters. But if we don’t start small, with every little thing, we will never get there.
We have to really focus to make the change. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.
My contribution is to use structure and method to develop overarching concepts together with colleagues responsible for energy supply. From the building to the plant. This only works when we work together, even if we sometimes speak different languages. I also want to bring this mindset into technologies that currently do not believe that they have savings potential. Above all, it should not matter whether a department has a share in the energy costs or not. Everyone has to follow the path. We also have to keep an eye on the interdependencies: if we rely on hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas, where will the vast amount of water we need for this come from? Fresh water is already scarce enough today. We always need to ask ourselves what the side effects of our decisions are. To do that though, we have to think beyond our personal frame of reference. We can only do this together if we find compromises and innovations and help each other.
At the moment you are continuously dealing with CO2, energy saving and sustainability in your professional life. Does this also have an impact on your private life?
Maasdorp: Absolutely. My perception has changed. I immediately put weather extremes into context and think differently about new purchases or energy consumption. We live in a 40-year-old house with small rooms. In the beginning, I wanted to knock it into larger, more open areas. Today, I think it makes more sense to leave it as small rooms. This takes up less heating energy.
What successes do you see already? Is there any one thing you are particularly proud of?
Maasdorp: Our plant in Debrecen is already a huge success. It will once again set standards in terms of sustainability. This is by no means trivial; we have a great responsibility, not only ecologically, but economically as well. Our team shows courage by making the right recommendations for the plant. And the company is showing courage by backing them with investment. I am proud of this all-round courage.
If you had one wish from Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, to help implement the 80 per cent target, what would that wish be?
Maasdorp: That we create real transparency through digitalisation. Transparency on the consumption of each resource, from rare ores to water. We use software at the BMW plant in Steyr that displays the energy consumption of production lines in real time. We need to have this overview for all resources in all plants, then not only can we reduce the loops, we can close them as well. We just need to implement it properly, with sufficient budget and capacity. Digitalisation can give climate protection a real boost here. This is what we need – a boost to protect the climate. And I want to do my part. When I experience or read about extreme weather, such as we’ve seen this year, I ask myself: How often is this happening? That’s why I am looking to make my own personal contribution, to become active.
So when is it enough?
Maasdorp: This issue will never end for the time being. We need new, completely different parameters – including in the political arena. This has to be worldwide as well. It’s a marathon, so we have to stick with it. On the positive side, we can focus on the proper use of resources and efficiency. Then everything else will follow.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.