Closed loop system for stampings at Volkswagen Slovakia

Volkswagen Slovakia joined the Aluminium Closed Loop project, which was introduced at Audi’s Neckarsulm site in 2017.

Volkswagen Slovakia joined the Aluminium Closed Loop project, which was introduced at Audi’s Neckarsulm site in 2017.

This closed loop project involves the recycling of aluminium stamping offcuts from the press shop, which are returned to the supplier of the aluminium coils. The aluminium offcuts are reprocessed at the supplier to enable them to be returned to production without any loss of quality. The use of secondary aluminium saves up to  95% of energy compared to primary aluminium. The CO2 savings and efficient resource management also contribute to greater sustainability. Among other things, body parts for the Audi Q7 and Q8 models are pressed at the Bratislava plant.

As part of the group, Volkswagen Slovakia is committed to achieving the environmental goals of the Zero Impact Factory strategy and moving toward climate neutrality. To achieve the best possible results, the company continually uses state-of-the-art technologies and actively participates in projects that have a positive impact on the environment. One of these is Aluminium Closed Loop, which was introduced at Audi’s Neckarsulm site in 2017. The project is currently running at four of the Group’s sites where press plants with a high proportion of aluminium parts are located (Audi in Neckarsulm and in Ingolstadt, Audi Hungaria in Győr and Volkswagen Slovakia in Bratislava). Further locations will follow. In 2021, the Aluminium Closed Loop project was responsible for a reduction of more than 195,000 t of CO2 on balance* for the production of Audi models alone. Since its introduction in 2017, these total savings have amounted to more than 725,000 t of CO2.

Aluminium Closed Loop project at the Bratislava site introduced a year ago

The press shop at the Bratislava site joined the group’s Aluminium Closed Loop project exactly one year ago, in July 2021. Currently, a large proportion of the parts for the bodies of the SUV models produced in Bratislava (Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 and Q8, Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Cayenne Coupé) are pressed here. These include exterior skin parts, roofs, add-on parts, hoods and tailgates, wings, doors, window frames and more.

The Aluminium Closed Loop is a successful example of closed-loop waste recycling that eliminates much of the energy-intensive production of primary aluminium. “The high energy demand can be minimized, among other things, by using recycled materials, thereby contributing to a better environmental balance of our vehicle projects even before our own vehicle production begins,” explains Michaela Hletková Ploszeková, head of the Environmental Department at Volkswagen Slovakia.

Separation process of stamping offcuts ensures very high purity levels

The body parts are made from aluminium and steel sheets that are cut from aluminium coils, at Audi Hungaria’s nearby sister plant in Győr, before being formed with pressing tools at the press shop in Bratislava. The aluminium is separated from the other stamping waste resulting from the production of these parts directly on the line.

“Thanks to the separation and cleaning processes in the production process as well as at the recycler, the stamping waste from the press shop for recycling in the Aluminium Closed Loop achieves a purity level of 99.9 %. In the pilot year, the company managed to deliver more than 6,600 t of aluminium offcuts to the closed loop project despite fluctuating production due to the difficult global situation. We want to continue to gradually increase this share,” says Stanislav Novák, head of the Press Shop Specialist Team.

* Audi understands net-zero carbon emissions to mean a situation in which, after other possible reduction measures have been exhausted, the company offsets the carbon emitted by Audi’s products or activities and/or the carbon emissions that currently cannot be avoided in the supply chain, manufacturing, and recycling of Audi vehicles through voluntary offsetting projects carried out worldwide. In this context, carbon emissions generated during a vehicle’s utilization stage, i.e. from the moment it is delivered to the customer, are not taken into account.