Environmental protection and sustainability as a matter of the heart
As Environmental Officer, Brigitte Götte takes care of all environmental and sustainability related matters at thyssenkrupp Steering’s Mülheim an der Ruhr site. It is a challenge which the 63-year-old takes on with immense commitment as environmental protection is something which is very important to her, also in her personal life, and which is highlighted by her involvement in the “Fridays for Future” initiative, amongst other things.
Brigitte Götte originally wanted to become a maths and physics teacher but decided on a different path during her studies. A career in the automobile industry replaced the planned career in education and she first trained as an industrial management assistant and later as business IT specialist and programmer.
In 1994 she joined Mercedes-Benz AG at its Düsseldorf plant for steering systems and, in 2003, thyssenkrupp when it took over Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen GmbH. At this time, she was responsible for the quality management system and, a short while later, was also assigned with the environmental management system.
“Sustainability was and remains one of the key issues of our time”
Today the 63-year-old is responsible for the integrated management system which incorporates quality, environment, energy and occupational safety, at thyssenkrupp Steering’s Mülheim an der Ruhr site. The job as environmental representative, in particular, is for her an equally important as well as exciting challenge.
“As environmental representative my work involves dealing with the legal requirements as well as those of the customers,” says Brigitte. “Here, I have to continuously ensure that legal requirements, for example from the Circular Economy Act and Environmental Liability Act, are followed.” Further duties also include direct contact with the authorities, for example the Environmental Authority, as well as the continued development of the environmental management system and ensuring certifications are upheld.
Brigitte is convinced that, “Sustainability was and remains one of the key issues of our time. We have to preserve our earth for future generations. At the same time, though, we are an industrial company that creates jobs and sells products throughout the whole world.” It therefore involves finding a balance between sustainability and profitability. “We have to do all we can to develop and manufacture our products sustainability in an economically viable framework. We all owe our environment this.”
“There is only one earth”
Her job also involves, “raising awareness of environmental protection and sustainability amongst my colleagues,” emphasises Brigitte. A job which requires a great deal of communication skill, enthusiasm and often also exceptional commitment. The perfect job therefore for the exuberant quality manager who, as coach, is today even able to live out the career she originally wanted to pursue at thyssenkrupp. For the past few years Brigitte has been giving courses in various subjects, for example currently on sustainability.
One of the most successful sustainability projects involves an evaporation area for the absorption of rainwater of all the production halls which created a biotope for plants, animals and insects and also considerably reduced the wastewater charges. This idea also led to other, smaller environmental projects such as a wild lawn and insect hotel. Six fruit trees which are looked after by a “tree guardian” have also been planted to help reduce the effects of CO2 emissions.
“I am also currently working with our energy manager on an information campaign on sustainability for which we are creating an information column out of old oil drums. On this we display information on sustainability and launch a short informative series on CO2 emissions. This column will then be taken to all areas within our company for set periods. On World Environment Day on 5 June 2022, we will host a quiz with questions on sustainability. All answers can be found on the information pillar.”
Environmental protection and sustainability are also personally important to Brigitte. “I support the `Fridays for future´ initiative as best as I can,” she says. “I’ve already drawn placards for this with my eight and 11-year-old great-nieces.” It’s matter of course for her, “We only have one earth and if we don’t protect and preserve it life on it will become increasingly difficult. Environmental protection starts with small things,” she is convinced. “Don’t use plastic bags when shopping, don’t fly on holiday, buy regional products and no strawberries in winter!”
Anyone who is so committed in their work as well as personal life will have experienced one or the other curious as well as nice thing over the years. Brigitte’s current highlight is of natural origin: “We have put up a bulk rubbish container on our waste disposal site and a plant has even started to grow in it. Nature is, it seems, reclaiming its living space!”