The man behind Scania’s environmental focus
22 OCTOBER 2018
Twenty-two years at Scania. Twenty-two years as the man to talk to about environment. The only person at Scania with his own hashtag. In fact, the only one with two hashtags. Meet Urban Wästljung at Public Affairs and Sustainability.
Since joining Scania in 1996, Urban Wästljung has had an enormous impact on the company’s environmental outlook. With experience from the government offices and a PhD degree, the biologist Wästljung was a popular candidate. In fact, so popular that the managers at Scania couldn’t decide who he should work for.
Wästljung’s work at Scania really took off when he started to integrate his ideas on the environment with the emerging focus on quality assurance. “It was a trend back in the 90s to obtain ISO 14001 environmental certification. I played a part in making that happen at Scania.”
Another ground-breaking initiative that he also made happen was the emission legislation. With his understanding of the political mindset, he managed to reach out to the decision makers in Brussels. “Against all odds, as a result of this lobbying we got a great Euro 3 emission legislation, and also Euro 4 and 5.”
Keeping up with the trends
In the early 2000s, Wästljung ended up at Public and Environmental Affairs, which soon thereafter was renamed Sustainability Affairs in keeping with the trend. Wästljung was highly independent and basically alone with his work. Later that also changed when the environmental issues became a top priority and Wästljung was joined by more colleagues.
Responsibility for environmental issues at Scania was initially decentralised. “That was both a blessing and a curse! It was so hard to coordinate everything.”
At the environmental frontline
Wästljung states that Scania – and himself –was at the frontline in working with the environmental. “What we’re now doing, we could’ve done back in 2005.” The lack of decisive action at the higher management level was all that was missing. “We’ve made up for that now”, Wästljung says, thinking of how Scania nowadays focuses on sustainability issues and achieving fossil free transport.
Not the average guy
What makes Wästljung stand out is that he has no apprehensions in trying new things. “Sometimes people were sceptical, but I tried. I knew that if we did the right things, we could accomplish great things without increased cost.”
What Wästljung realised a long time ago is that making a calculation always makes sense. The results might not always happen, but just to show that it is possible. Like when he pondered how to halve the fuel consumption for a typical European transport. Something that Scania’s own Transport Lab now has verified.
Focus on the environment
Not only is he focused on the environment at work. Wästljung is also a keen outdoorsman in his spare time. He enjoys gardening as well as fishing and working in his own forest. And now, he is also present in social media. “I was honoured, of course,” he says, thinking of how the company dedicated no less than two hashtags to him, #scaniaurban and #urbanboost.
Or were those meant for the new generation of Scania trucks…? As long as focus lies on the environment, Urban Wästljung is pleased.