Volvo is looking for out-of-the-box-thinking suppliers to help it achieve an ambitious sustainability goal. By 2025 the Swedish automaker wants at least 25% of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo to be made from recycled materials. The percentage now is about 5%.
To determine whether it could reach this target Volvo worked with its current Tier 1 suppliers to create a variant of the XC60 plug-in hybrid in which 20% of the plastic components were replaced with equivalents containing recycled materials. Volvo is now testing a number of those 170 components to determine which might make it into future models.
“We are having a lot of discussions with our Tier 1 suppliers but we are not stopping there,” Volvo Board Member for Procurement Martina Buchhauser told Automotive News Europe. “To speed up this process we are also talking to the chemicals and raw materials suppliers. And, to be even faster, so that we can begin testing even earlier, we are inviting new partners to help us innovate together on recycled materials or materials from renewable resources.”
To find these suppliers Volvo held a so-called “Sustainability Day” where it not only invited its Tier 1 suppliers but also opened the event to a new breed of component maker. In addition, it is working with non-government organisations to identify companies that have fresh ideas to increase the sustainability of the parts to enter future cars. “We at Volvo believe that collaborators win,” Buchhauser said.
“Therefore we need people around us who can help us and co-create with us on this plastics ambition. That is why it is important to address this to a broader audience.” Volvo has already started asking for quotes on recycled plastics for vehicles that will be based on its SPA2 architecture. SPA2 will debut with the launch of the third-generation XC90 in 2021. “We have translated the ideas into our specifications and into our sourcing process,” she said.
The increased use of recycled plastics is just one way Volvo aims to minimising its global environmental footprint. By year-end the automaker has promised to eradicate single-use plastics across all its premises and at all its events. In addition, in January Volvo’s engine plant in Skovde, Sweden, became its first climate-neutral facility. By 2025 it wants all of its manufacturing operations to achieve the same goal. Buchhauser said Volvo is taking these steps not only because “the world needs this,” but also because it makes good business sense because “our customers want us to be there.”