“You won’t like what you’re going to hear,” were the opening words of Arçelik CEO, Hakan Bulgurlu, during his keynote address at IFA Berlin on Friday.
Mr Bulgurlu called for immediate action to combat climate change in his keynote presentation, saying “I don’t believe in a world where people can get richer and the planet poorer.”
The Arçelik CEO started by delivering a long list of cold hard facts about the climate emergency: Europe’s worst drought in centuries, the Rhine at its lowest level in generations and the Arctic warming four times faster than the rest of the world.
He noted that demand for appliances is growing by the day, with 3.6 billion cooling devices (air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers) in the world. By 2050, that number could be as much as 14 billion. “We cannot cope with the energy demand of 3.6 billion cooling appliances today, how are we going to cope with 14 billion in the future unless we change completely…?”.
Mr. Bulgurlu has achieved great success as CEO of Arçelik. The company’s brands Beko and Grundig, just reported their most successful year in history in 2021. He recently became the president of APPLiA – Home Appliance Europe, a Brussels-based trade association that provides a voice for the home appliance industry.
But it was not company milestones, or individual success, that was the focus of Mr. Bulgurlu’s keynote speech, but the ever-severe climate emergency. “The hottest topic of the planet is the heating planet”, he said.
In 2019, before the global pandemic, Mr. Bulgurlu climbed Mount Everest to help raise awareness for climate change. The world’s tallest mountain is in fact a metaphor for the emergency itself. “Tackling climate change is one hell of a mountain to climb,” he said of his journey. “But as my experience has taught me, even the tallest peak is possible to overcome.”
How does Mr. Bulgurlu propose we address the climate emergency? “We have to get to a net zero future, we have to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century […] nothing else matters”, he says.
Energy efficiency was also mentioned as a key method to help combat climate change. “The cleanest fuel in the world is the energy we don’t use,” was Mr. Bulgurlu’s simple statement.
He also pointed to wider solutions through policy-making. “There’s a very painful tension between our energy consumption goals and our environmental goals,” he said. “The only solution here is a carbon tax, pricing that carbon into every product that’s made if we continue to use fossil fuels.” The CEO also called for regulation of water efficiency, and strict standards for manufacturers to produce the most energy efficient devices possible. Furthermore, the president of APPLiA is actively working with global governmental bodies to define standards on a global level.
Arçelik’s role in innovating sustainable solutions
The Arçelik CEO discussed how his company is acting sustainably and combatting climate change, being carbon neutral in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Over the past 10 years, the company has reduced washing machines’ consumption of energy [threefold], of water by 20%, along with sustainable updates to dishwashers too. Next is a commitment to reduce Scope 3 emissions in the near future.
For those appliances, water usage has been reduced to 6.9 litres. Furthermore, half the water used in the previous wash is saved, and used for the next. “If you multiply this by millions of appliances, this makes a real, massive difference”, Mr. Bulgurlu says.
“Basically we’ve attacked, and made this a priority for us,” he continued. “We have created the most efficient appliances.” Mr. Bulgurlu also noted that the net zero target for carbon emissions by 2050 only continues to drive innovate solutions. Beko’s SaveWater line was cited as a key example of innovation, saving a total of up to 7.8 litres of water with every cycle. “Every cycle saves a little, and saves a lot,” was a standout statement regarding the line of appliances.