Why has Miele decided to become CO₂ neutral from 2021 onwards?
Because sustainability has always been woven into Miele's DNA and, of our own volition, we want to make a further contribution towards climate protection. Over the course of the past decades, we have consistently improved our energy and resource efficiency. This also applies to the use of resources in our own production facilities. To make a further contribution beyond this, we have therefore decided to become CO2 neutral across all our production facilities from 2021 onwards.
Is Miele the only company which makes such an effort and has launched such a project?
No, but we are in good company. We are not the first company to have embarked on this path, but we have set ourselves more ambitious targets. We welcome the fact that many companies make such efforts. The more companies involved, the better it is for our climate, the environment and our planet. We can all make our own contributions to curbing global warming and conserving energy and resources.
What does CO₂ neutrality mean?
For us, the term CO2 neutrality means that we no longer release any more CO2 than we sequester or compensate for elsewhere. In a first stage, our efforts will focus on direct CO2 emissions (Scope1) and indirect CO2 emissions (Scope 2). We aim to reduce these by 50% by 2030. As a large proportion of emissions occur elsewhere in the value creation chain, for example with suppliers, during product use and in transportation (Scope 3), these aspects are also under observation. As a manufacturing company, we are aware that we cannot reduce our CO2 footprint to nil. Consequently, we strive to compensate for unavoidable emissions.
What does Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 mean?
Greenhouse gas emissions subdivide into three categories, or Scopes, according to the international Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. 'Scope 1' covers emissions which occur at a company's manufacturing facilities, for instance in the production of goods, the heating system and air conditioning in offices and resulting from the vehicle fleet. 'Scope 2' is an umbrella for all CO2 emissions which occur in the course of generating the electricity and district heat a company uses. 'Scope 3' represents all emissions throughout the value creation chain, for instance materials consumed and services, during the use of products and in disposal and transportation.
How does compensation work?
The principle of compensation is based on the concept that it is immaterial to the environment where greenhouse gases are emitted or avoided. By implication, emissions produced in one place can therefore be compensated for elsewhere. As the avoidance of emissions is always preferable to compensation, the voluntary offsetting of emissions should always be the last resort after avoidance and reduction. To calculate voluntary compensation, the extent of emissions with an impact on the climate resulting from a particular activity is first quantified. Compensation takes the form of emissions certificates for climate protection projects which compensate in equal measure. With the purchase of certificates, projects typically promote renewable energy or reforestation schemes.
What were the relevant criteria for Miele in selecting projects?
In the case of our compensation projects, we ensured that they have maximum impact on sequestering and reducing CO2. All projects were carefully selected on the basis of the strictest criteria, ensuring that they match our own company's philosophy, support the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the sustainable development and improvement in the region where the project is located.
Who guarantees that the projects indeed save CO₂?
Internationally certified standards and criteria as well as third-party verification ensures the quality of the projects we have selected and ensure that they save the quoted amount of CO2.
Why did you opt for these projects in particular?
We selected projects which are a perfect match for Miele's own business activities and have the biggest impact on sequestering and reducing CO2. As a result, we went for projects in the field of reforestation, cooking and domestic chores, and agriculture, and wish to offset the effects of logging through the improved use of resources. At the same time, it is our aim to support biodiversity and enhance the quality of life of individuals and, in doing so, promote the efficient production of agricultural produce. As technology leader, we also deliberately support innovative technological approaches to sequestering or reducing CO2.
Is Miele's CO₂ footprint greater than that of other comparable companies?
Figures are often very difficult to compare. One key aspect is that in the case of Scope 3 the emissions from the use of manufactured products – in our case washing machines, tumble dryers and ovens – are included in calculations. We are the only manufacturer of domestic appliances to test our products for 20 years of use and thereby offer our customers a unique degree of dependability and peace of mind. By consequence, our calculations of Scope 3 emissions are predicated on 20 years of product use. This increases our CO2 footprint, making it appear greater than that of comparable companies.
How does the purchase of green energy work?
There are currently several ways of sourcing green electricity, whereby Miele makes use of three different options. Several sales subsidiaries have, for example, already concluded contracts with local utilities and have been sourcing their electricity from these suppliers for some time. Green electricity can be supplied direct by a wind farm or PV installation run by a local utility or purchased from the grid as green energy. Alternatively, green electricity can also be purchased using appropriate EACs. These certificates of origin are electronic documents which confirm the source of electricity. This provides information on how and where electricity is generated from renewable energy. At the same time, these documents ensure that a given volume is only sold once. This guarantees that the volume of energy consumed by Miele is, indeed, from renewables. We use supply facilities which are certified according to the EKOenergy label scheme. The operators of these plants invest a certain sum in a climate fund for every MWh we purchase using certificates. This money is put to use in building further green-energy installations. With this, we are supporting the ongoing expansion of regenerative energy. As the third option, Miele relies in the long term on Power Purchase Agreements. This approach also allows the purchasing party to define which of the supplier's installations the electricity comes from, provenance guaranteed.
Why do you support an expensive reforestation project in the USA?
The need for such projects in developed economies is particularly underestimated. Although the United States is a highly developed country, it still lacks a legal structure or political framework to increase the area covered by indigenous forests. Projects such as GreenTrees ACRE are hence important in promoting the protection of forests, even in developed economies. The project itself is located in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and is considered one of the most important deciduous ecosystems on the North American subcontinent. The area, sometimes referred to as North America's rain forest, is a transitional zone and hibernation site for around 60% of all the birds on the continent. Intensive forest clearance over the past 50 years has resulted in the serious degradation of the area. Through reforestation, less phosphorous and nitrogen are released into the Mississippi river, resulting in greater richness in species and biodiversity in the area.
Why have you not chosen a project in Germany?
This is because compensation projects and associated savings in Germany are included in the Federal Government's own calculations and would therefore be counted twice – firstly in our own computations and in the calculations of the Federal Republic in meeting its own goals. For this reason, supporting projects in Germany is difficult, even though there is reforestation potential here, too. With the use of Biochar in agriculture, we deliberately opted to support a technology project in Germany as we wish to invest in new technologies and concepts which are currently very expensive but will come to play a greater role as time progresses. The project should not therefore be seen as compensation; it is an additional scheme and is not included in our calculations.
What have you been doing for the climate and the environment until now?
Miele has been highly active for decades in the field of sustainability and environmental protection and is a forerunner in its branch of industry. This is supported by numerous independent studies and surveys which show that we are perceived as very sustainable. We have been recording environmental data from our production sites since 1970, have been publishing our own sustainability report since 2002 and even won the German Sustainability Prize in 2014. All at a time when the expectations placed on us were not as high as they are today. We do all this because sustainability runs through the DNA of our company which originates in the philosophy of our founding fathers of placing their trust in particularly long-lasting products. Handing the company over to the next generation and safeguarding its interests is close to the hearts of the proprietors – hence continuity and sustainability count among the most important factors. And yes, there is still much to be done at Miele and there is obviously room for further improvement. We will rise to the challenge.