Project Manager Green Plant Leipzig, explains how important it is to motivate other people to protect the environment.
MINI sustainability – stefan fenchel – project manager green plant leipzig MINI sustainability – stefan fenchel – project manager green plant leipzig

Stefan Fenchel, the “Green Plant Leipzig” is your project; you built it up along with others and run it today. What can our readers expect here? I take it flowering meadows on the plant premises is not the whole story...

Stefan Fenchel: The simplest way to think of it is as a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces have to fit together perfectly. The “Green Plant” aims to bring the puzzle pieces of ecology, economy and social issues together. We have divided this social sustainability into internal and external impacts. To make the pieces of the puzzle fit, we ask ourselves several questions in everything we do: Does that really make ecological sense? Is that economically feasible? Who do we want to work with for this? How do we reach our employees? Our “Vision Zero Emission Factory” is as old as the Leipzig plant itself. We have wind turbines, a battery storage farm and Germany’s first indoor hydrogen filling station for logistics vehicles. 

What drives you to push these issues forward? You’re actually a chemist.

Stefan Fenchel: I have been curious about nature since I was a child. I have always wanted to protect and support it in my own way. I was initially in research as a chemist. But then I decided that I wanted to take active responsibility and drive change forward. The most effective way to do that is in industry. We initially set up the “Green Plant” project in parallel with our line functions, and it has only been my full-time job since 2020. It comes at exactly the right time, though, because the explosiveness of climate issues is on the rise. Reduction of CO2 is of particular importance.

Is there anything within the project that you are particularly proud of?

Stefan Fenchel: Our “Green Plant” is an enabler project. These sorts of projects do not result in a product, but they enable others to do something which moves a development forward. That’s why I’m already so proud of the project as a whole. In my view, the biggest tangible success of our work so far is the hydrogen pipeline. If everything goes according to plan, this will come to fruition in the next few years and then supply the plant with green hydrogen. Of course, this has a completely different effect than the flowering meadows. It is a step that moves us from being a CO2 polluter to being a driver in carbon minimisation. That’s why I currently spend almost 90 per cent of my time on issues that are extremely political. At the same time, the meadows, the bees and the plant’s own apple juice also form part of my role. That’s quite a balancing act, but I’m fascinated by this breadth. Of course, not everything always goes smoothly, not everything works straight away. I have been trying to win people over to our issues for years, to get them excited – but many simply can’t find the time to care about sustainability as well. But whilst understanding their stance, such negative reactions are nevertheless disappointing for an idealist like me.

MINI sustainability – green plant leipzig – embedding sustainability in all line functions MINI sustainability – green plant leipzig – embedding sustainability in all line functions

Let’s say you meet Oliver Zipse, the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. He asks: “How can I help you to make the Green Plant in Leipzig a success? What do you need most right now?” You have one minute to answer. What do you say?

Stefan Fenchel: "Thoroughly embed sustainability in all line functions. Make leaders understand that sustainability is a way of doing things and thinking things through – not just an add-on.” This attitude is so important! Sustainability should not be bogus labelling or something we pay lip service to because the boss wants it. Then we lose all credibility. It would be nothing more than 'greenwashing'.