Sustainability in Automotive Manufacturing

Blog November 18th, 2020

The manufacturing sector is subject to a lot of scrutiny over how it impacts the environment. Most processes involve the input and output of materials and waste that are potentially harmful to human, animals, and nature as well as climate adverse. How to produce the goods we need while practicing sustainable manufacturing is a challenge for every industry. Sustainability in the automotive industry is of particular interest, with the auto industry finding itself needing to shift focus to adapt to this trend.

As consumers increasingly demand environmental sustainability from the brands and businesses they support, automotive manufacturers have listened, and sustainable practices have become much more common in the world of vehicle production.

Sustainability in Automotive Manufacturing

With growing concerns over climate change and other environmental issues, sustainability has become a strategic priority for automotive organizations. But just how does the concept fit in with automotive manufacturing?

The essential goal is to minimize both production waste and environmental impact. Typically achieved through modifying product designs, work-flow principles, and manufacturing processes, there are numerous benefits to this approach, as sustainable automotive manufacturers often have:

  • Heightened brand value.
  • More and better market opportunities.
  • Lower expenses due to reduced levels of waste and repurposing of materials.
  • Fewer regulatory obstacles to overcome.
  • Less legal challenges related to pollution.

To achieve sustainability success, automotive manufacturers must identify major impact points like energy loss and waste and then work to address them through greater efficiency.

It’s important to note that though the focus today may be different, sustainability in vehicle manufacturing has been around a long time. For instance, a century ago, Ford was looking to lower its wood consumption and created a soy-based oil to use in its vehicles’ enamels. It also created parts made of a proprietary material known as “Fordite,” a mix of rubber, silica, and wheat straw. Today’s manufacturers are more than prepared to meet sustainability challenges.

The Impact of Automotive Manufacturing on the Environment

Electric and hybrid vehicles are high-profile instances of automotive sustainability efforts, but they are end products whose focus tends to be on emissions. Manufacturers serious about promoting sustainability in the industry must, however, consider the entire manufacturing chain of a vehicle. Vehicles are a major air quality compromiser with older cards having a higher footprint than newer ones. Fortunately, the growing awareness among automotive manufacturers is helping to improve the situation.

The Automotive Manufacturing Process

There are about 40 different kinds of plastic used in car and they account for about 10 percent of the vehicle’s weight and 50 percent of its volume. In developed countries where used car disposal is heavily regulated, three of these plastics—polypropylene, polyurethane, and PVC—offer huge recycling opportunities. Since this plastic trio makes up two-thirds of the total plastics found in cars, the fact they can be recycled is good for both the environment and a manufacturer’s bottom line.

This trend aligns with the role UBQ Material looks to play in the automotive manufacturing sphere. Our recyclable thermoplastics are a sustainable extrusion material that is helping to change worldwide manufacturing of automobiles and other everyday products.

UBQ recently partnered with vehicle manufacturer Daimler to help advance its sustainable business strategy and support the offset of its carbon footprint across its supply chain. Working together, the goal is to partially replace traditional materials like polypropylene with UBQ’s climate-positive thermoplastic as early as 2022.

With an eye towards improving lightweight construction, Daimler is conducting a pilot project to develop a sustainable cargo bay. The manufacturer says it sees UBQ as not only a viable automotive building component but one that offers a vital environmental benefit: the material comes from a mixed mountain of rubbish that, if sent to landfills, would result in increased levels of methane gas which has a drastically higher global warming effect than CO2.

UBQ Material believes the adoption of sustainable automobile manufacturing represents a huge win for manufacturers, consumers, and the planet alike and is excited to be a contributor to a climate-neutral, sustainable world.