Recycled material mat
10:30 AM | October 18 2018

A cleaner footprint on the road and off

How Volvo Cars’ commitment to sustainability transcends its portfolio of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Volvo Cars’ range of highly efficient, cutting-edge powertrains is part of the company’s commitment to reducing its vehicles’ impact on the environment. 

That commitment goes a step forward from 2019 when every new Volvo model released will feature some form of electrification, whether it’s a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle. 

Our aim is for electric cars to comprise half of Volvo sales by 2025.

Yet as a global company, and with people placed at the core of everything we do, our approach to sustainability extends beyond reducing emissions on the road…

Plastic in Cars
From 2015, Volvo Cars intends to ensure at least 25 per cent of the plastics incorporated into every newly launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material.

The company is also urging automotive industry suppliers to work closer with car makers to develop next-generation vehicle components that are as sustainable as possible, especially with regards to containing more recycled plastics.

Volvo Cars’ First Ever XC40 compact SUV is already available with an interior carpet manufactured primarily from recycled plastic bottles.

Eradicating single-use plastics
Volvo Cars is in the process of removing single-use plastics from all its offices, canteens and events across the globe by the end of 2019. 

The premium car maker will replace more than 20 million single-use plastic items such as cups, food containers and cutlery with more sustainable alternatives, including biodegradable products made of paper, pulp and wood. It equates to the removal of over 500 plastic items per employee per year.

The switch will be implemented incrementally, and by the end of 2018 single-use plastics will have been removed from global events such as car launches, as well as from all offices and restaurants in Volvo Cars facilities in China, Belgium, the United States, Sweden and Malaysia. 

Volvo Cars estimates that the 2018 roll-out alone will result in the replacement of more than 140 tonnes of single-use plastic items with plastic-free alternatives.

Ocean plastics charter and living seawalls
Volvo Cars was the only car maker to be invited to the G7 environmental summit held in September 2018 in Halifax, Canada, underlining the company’s position as an industry leader in sustainability.

And Volvo Cars is the first and only car maker to endorse the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter that commits governments to take concrete and ambitious steps towards addressing the global problem of ocean plastics pollution, such as promoting more recycled plastics and reducing plastics pollution in their societies. 

The most recent edition of the Volvo Ocean Race sailing competition also focused on the issue of ocean plastics pollution. This focus was reflected in funding by Volvo Cars for marine health research as part of the Ocean Race as well as dozens of successful beach cleaning events around the globe, involving thousands of Volvo Cars employees.

Activities marking the Ocean Plastics theme of this year’s UN World Environment Day on June 5th also spread to Australia, where Volvo unveiled plans to create one of the world’s largest living seawalls in Sydney Harbour.

The Living Seawall will feature fifty 55cm x 55cm tiles – each made from concrete reinforced with recycled plastic fibres to mimic the root structure of mangrove trees once prolific around the harbour.

Using 3D printing technology to create the moulds, tiny alcoves are etched into the tile design to give oysters, fish and filter feeding organisms a place to live and thrive just as they would in a natural habitat.

Ghent plant

Carbon-neutral manufacturing
On the first day of 2018, Volvo Cars reached a milestone in its vision to have climate-neutral global manufacturing operations by 2025 when its Skövde engine plant in Sweden achieved a zero CO2 emissions footprint.

Skövde became the first plant in Volvo Cars’ global manufacturing network to reach this status when it switched to renewable heating. 

Its electricity supply had already come from renewable sources, since 2008.

And in 2018, Volvo Cars introduced solar energy into its global manufacturing operations, with 15,000 solar panels installed at its Ghent car factory plant in Belgium.

Remanufacturing Components
Recycling isn’t always the best solution necessarily. Recycling objects such as car components consumes large amounts of energy. So, since 1945 Volvo Cars has been capitalising on the inherent quality of its parts to remanufacture many of them when they have worn out rather than simply scrap them.

When certain parts in Volvo vehicles have eventually worn out, they are carefully disassembled and – if they’re not damaged or worn out – meticulously remanufactured to the same high standards as the original. 

Remanufactured parts require up to 85% less raw material and 80% less energy than newly made parts. By remanufacturing used parts, we can save up to 980 tonnes of steel and 350 tonnes of aluminium per year. And, in terms of CO2 emissions, we’re saving the equivalent of driving around the world 1,326 times in a Volvo V40 D2.

Once a part has been remanufactured to meet Volvo Cars’ standards, it enters the Volvo Cars Exchange System - one of the most extensive ranges of remanufactured exchange parts in the automotive industry - where it waits patiently for the opportunity to get back on the road.

Click here to read the rest of our October I Roll stories.