The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

Production Sites

Cups: Reusable, Not Disposable

Thanks to a new deposit scheme, there will be less waste at the coffee bars and coffee machines at the Wolfsburg plant in future.

Happy: Marc Wiechert (from left) and Ralf Kroschel from the Service Factory are just as pleased with the new deposit scheme as Tanja Anderson and Jessica Weidling from the coffee bar in BT 10.

The Volkswagen Service Factory is taking aim at the mountains of trash with reusable cups: they want to drastically reduce the number of paper cups being used at the Wolfsburg location, which currently stands at around 3.9 million a year.

But how? A deposit scheme has been put in place at the coffee bars in the Wolfsburg plant starting in September. This program has been put in place by the Service Factory, working in cooperation with the three companies operating the coffee bars. Starting on September 1, patrons who order a coffee to go will get a reusable cup made of recyclable plastic for a deposit of just one euro. They can then either return the cup the next time they buy a coffee and get their euro back or get a new cup with their drink order.

They can also bring their own cup to be filled. For reasons of hygiene, the only requirement is that the cup be clean. In addition, employees have the option to use their own cup to get a hot drink at the coffee machines 
instead of using a paper cup, which now costs 12 cents extra.

"All of this promotes sustainability, contributes to protecting our environment and helps Volkswagen reach its environmental goals," says Marc Wiechert, Director of Catering at the Wolfsburg plant. He continues, "We hope that a great deal of our employees will skip the paper cup in future."

A special campaign to launch the reusable cup deposit system: the Compliance team (Chief Compliance Officer Kurt Michels, second from the right) passed out thermoses. They feature information on 
how to report serious rule violations.

With this project, Volkswagen is participating in the Recup Initiative, which was launched throughout the entire city in late August. Ever since, customers at many cafés, bakeries and hotels can now take a more environmentally friendly approach to getting their drinks to go with reusable cups. Many of these cups even feature a Wolfsburg-themed design – and are also available on the Volkswagen campus. The Recup project was previously piloted in the city’s restaurants. "Recup works!" exclaims Director Thorsten Pitt. He says the responses from patrons and employees have been positive. 

According to the Volkswagen Service Factory, 3.9 million paper cups were handed out last year across the 22 coffee bars and 160 coffee machines at the Wolfsburg location. It takes 4.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity (equivalent to what around 880 four-person households in Germany consume in a year), 30 metric tons of crude oil and the wood of 60 trees to produce that many cups – not to mention some 155 metric tons of CO₂.

"I’ve been waiting for years for coffee bars to finally produce less waste. The idea behind the deposit scheme for reusable cups is great. I’m definitely taking part!"

Carsten Schemionek
Employee at the Wolfsburg plant

"For years now, environmental protection has been of enormous importance to the Works Council. Our colleagues want to leave behind a world that is clean and intact for their children, and we all have to do our part to contribute to this. It’s easy to give up paper cups, and the Recup system is an intelligent solution."

Matthias Disterheft
Wolfsburg Works Council

"It really hurt me to see just how many paper 
cups pass over the counter at coffee bars. Finally, we’ve got reusable cups here, too. It’s great!"

Stefan Roser
Employee at the Wolfsburg plant