Cradle to Cradle® Automotive and mobility

The automotive sector faces considerable challenges: Punitive tariffs on steel imports, tyre abrasion as a cause of microplastic, emission standards for diesel vehicles and new players entering the market. At the same time, the recycling of materials with limited availability is entering into focus in the public debate with regard to electromobility. The mining of these materials is not only cost-intensive but also has a negative impact on humans and the environment. Some of these challenges, however, also affect alternative mobility solutions such as e-bikes, street scooters or trains.

It is no longer enough to just increase energy efficiency and treat downcycling as recycling. An intelligent and real circular economy with climate-positive business models needs to be developed. This advancement of innovations needs to trigger a rethinking of the existing processes in the automotive and mobility sector.

Where is the difference to current automotive and mobility solutions?

A normal car is made of up to 40 000 parts, more than 1 000 different materials and 10 000 chemicals. Only when the Cradle to Cradle® design principle is taken into consideration and the complexity of products is reduced, will cars, trains and other mobility options change into real “material banks”. In the medium term, this will lead to a more efficient materials selection process, higher materials recovery rates and a reduced input of primary materials resources for manufacturers.

 

“What kind of mobility do we want? More comfort and connectivity with less particulate pollution and downcycling! We believe that the future car will benefit the environment – not harm it!”

The digitalisation of products and raw material components enables the full identification of all materials along the entire supply chain. This allows for the selection of healthy materials for humans and the environment, an optimised calculation of the raw material value and the acceleration of innovation cycles in the automotive and mobility sector. In the future, cars could become beneficial for the environment, instead of merely less harmful. One approach could be a particulate matter binding coating on the underside of cars.

How does EPEA support the implementation of Cradle to Cradle® in the mobility sector?

For more than 30 years, we have been working as an innovation partner and knowledge trustee together with suppliers and chemical, product and automotive manufacturers on a global scale. We support companies with global supply chains in the implementation of Cradle to Cradle® and jointly develop solutions for technical and biological cycles. 

In the automotive sector, we offer a comprehensive solution for the recyclable ‘car as material bank’ in close cooperation with the recycling, disposal and logistics service provider Interseroh and the remanufacturing experts from Encory.

  • Material and chemical evaluation and optimization
  • Design for Disassembly
  • C2C Certified™ Certifications
  • Material Passports
  • Positive innovations for the environment
  • Circular business models – the car as material bank
  • Remanufacturing and recycling strategies 

In the automotive and mobility sector, the EPEA science team has comprehensive expertise in the chemical and biological compositions of materials. We use this know-how for the optimisation of products with regard to materials safety and recyclability. When designing and implementing C2C products, every single constituent is therefore examined for compatibility with the environment and health. 

For instance, we have for many years been successfully cooperating with Schwalbe, the market leader for bicycle tyres and inner tubes. In the automotive sector, we are accompanying the supplier ZF Friedrichshafen in the implementation of the C2C design principle at their Bielefeld site. Last year, the site was granted the Environmental and Climate Action Award for their commitment.
 

What added value do Cradle to Cradle® automotive and mobility solutions offer?

The materials of the optimised products cannot only be recycled as nutrients, the products are also as far as possible made using renewable energies and under fair social conditions. This reduces the environmental impact, creates social added values and makes companies part of the solution. Together, we can achieve:

  • Maximum ecological product quality
  • Knowledge of all constituents of a product
  • Transparent and fair supply chains
  • A positive carbon footprint
  • Sustainable strategies for increasing specifications for manufacturers with regard to materials safety and recycling rates
  • Savings as a result of more efficient materials selection, higher materials exploitation rates and reduced use of primary resources