Nothing lasts forever, and our planet's resources are no exception. Despite this fact, a lot more raw materials are being consumed worldwide than nature can regenerate. At Deutsche Bahn we believe this gives us a responsibility to utilize available resources prudently. That is why we have set ourselves an ambitious target for protecting resources.
We intend to implement a full circular economy by 2040. To achieve this goal, we are taking a holistic approach to resource protection and using several instruments.
Using more recycled materials and renewable raw materials
In order to maintain and upgrade our infrastructure, we need large quantities of materials, especially rail steel, ballast and concrete ties. In the coming years, we will significantly increase the recycled content of these three resources. We have set binding targets to achieve by 2030.
For example, we will use almost twice as much recycled rail steel in 2030 as in 2019, thus increasing the recycled content from 25% to around 45%. The percentage of recycled ballast is expected to rise from 13.3% to around 40% in the same period, tripling the current percentage. And for concrete ties, we will use five times as much recycled material, increasing the percentage from 5.7% in 2019 to about 30% in 2030. This will reduce our emissions by around 300,000 metric tons of CO2 and save around ten million metric tons of new materials.
Recycling materials and minimizing waste
Another aspect is dealing with materials already in use. In the future, we will continue to keep our recycling rate at a high level of at least 95%.
Making resource protection tangible
By ensuring careful use of resources throughout the Group, we are joining forces to achieve our goal of having a full circular economy by 2040. That is why we are making resource protection visible for everyone with numerous measures that go beyond recycled content and recycling levels.
In the future, we will pay even greater attention to using resources economically in new vehicles. As a result, we will only purchase vehicles that have been manufactured in a resource-saving manner using recycled, recyclable and renewable resources.
We keep our existing fleet in good condition by refitting vehicles and upgrading technology. A useful technique is 3D printing, which we use to produce the specific spare and non-deliverable parts we need to operate our trains.
Sustainable food service
We already offer many sustainably sourced products on our long-distance trains and in our employee restaurants. For example, travelers can order FairTrade hot drinks and share's sustainable mineral water bottles in the on-board bistro and restaurant. In addition, since March 2022, more than half of the meals we serve on board are vegetarian or plant-based. And we have been donating unsold but edible food to non-profit food banks for many years.
In addition, we monitor our packaging use. Wherever possible, we are switching to reusable packaging in our catering facilities. We also rely on packaging that is produced in a resource-saving manner and is 100% recyclable or compostable. This helps us to consistently reduce packaging waste and conserve valuable resources.
To save paper, we have started using alternative products in many places. We are not only making our office environment more digital, but our communication with customers as well. This saves us a lot of paper, for example, on advertising brochures, flyers, files, pay stubs and receipts.
Furthermore, we increasingly rely on digital media to communicate with our passengers: travelers can obtain quick and easy real-time information about their connections via the DB Navigator and DB Streckenagent apps and on bahn.de.
We have already switched to recycled paper wherever possible, both in our office processes and in our company publications. These include, for example, our business cards, which are printed on waste paper.
Sustainable rewards catalog
Rail travelers who participate in the BahnBonus program can exchange their points for sustainable rewards. For example, our rail rewards, such as vouchers for a free trip, are environmentally friendly because our long-distance passengers in Germany have been traveling on 100% renewable power since 2018. By 2025, the entire rewards catalog will consist of sustainable rewards.
Products without microplastics
Passengers on regional and long-distance trains use hand soap that is 100% free of microplastics. This safeguards our water supplies by preventing contamination with the tiny particles.
Sustainable office furniture
Moreover, we focus on resource protection when we set up our offices. We already prioritize sustainable procurement of office furniture, choosing items that have been awarded recognized sustainability seals, for instance.
We give decommissioned monitors, notebooks, PCs and mobile devices a new life. To do this, we work together with various partners to recycle our IT equipment so that it can be reused. In addition, we are working on making our IT procurement processes even greener in order to contribute significantly to the resource protection target in this area as well.
Major boost for circular economy
As Europe's largest rail infrastructure company, our resource conservation target provides an important boost to a circular economy. In this way, we support the German and European Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the United Nations' SDGs.