Due to a need for improved global economic performance while reducing overall environmental impact, the concept of eco-efficiency has taken on added importance in recent years.
“Ours is an eco-efficient business whose objective always has been to carry more passengers using less fuel at the lowest possible cost,” said Christian Dumas, Airbus’ vice president of sustainable development and eco-efficiency. “What has changed is our perspective – we are now taking more environmental value into account.”
Factors such as fuel costs, noise levels and CO2 emissions now are vital to any value analysis. Airbus’ principal response to this has been the development of products with their full life-cycle in mind.
“When Airbus became an integrated company, we created our own environmental management system, which is now in place across Airbus and certified under the ISO 14001 standard,” said Rainer von Wrede, head of environmental affairs within the Engineering discipline. “Rather than applying existing rules, we decided to consider not only the production processes and sites, but the operational life, end-of-life and recycling potential of our products.”
In order to become a truly eco-efficient enterprise, Airbus also had to take a new approach to its organisational structure. “You need to have a directorate able to handle the whole process, and senior management has to be aware of what is going on in order to better support the change,” Dumas explained.
Recent years have seen the introduction of increasingly-stringent environmental regulations on emissions and noise. However, regulation is not the main driver of the “eco-efficient revolution” Airbus has initiated. According to von Wrede, the most important factor is the efficiency of Airbus aircraft.
Ultimately, Airbus considers eco-efficiency a journey rather than a destination – an ongoing process with constant improvement – with a final objective of zero environmental impact, if possible.