Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lifecycle Assessment Strategies at AIAG's CR Summit


Moving the needle from theory to practice was at the heart of AIAG’s 2016 Corporate Responsibility Summit, which took place April 27-28, 2016, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. Speakers addressed a variety of CR topics, providing the latest information to help participants build a business case for sustainability.

Here are some highlights from a presentation on lightweight constructions and tires.

Lightweight Constructions

iPoint Systems’ Andreas Schiffleitner and Pirelli Tire’s Maureen Kline talked to attendees in a breakout session about approaches to life-cycle assessment in the supply chain, focusing on lightweight constructions and tires.

Schiffleitner said that vehicle weight has increased with each generation as a result of addressing the need for greater quality, safety, and added features. This is what is propelling the trend to lightweight strategies, particularly in Europe where companies are looking for multi-material or hybrid designs. 

“The trend is all about assessing the environmental impact of a product and its sub-parts,” he said.

Of course, designing with an LCA approach is important, but ultimately, it depends on where the vehicle is at the end of its life. “That problem is being addressed through better recycling processes that are now coming to market,” Schiffleitner said. “That’s where we are headed now.”

Kline joked that while suppliers are focused on life-cycle assessment “because the OEMs want us to.” There is actually a long list of reasons to put your resources there, including cost reduction, product improvement, and even shipping decisions based on LCA. “Pirelli uses sustainability as a competitive advantage,” she said.

Pirelli considers the social impact of LCA, using tools internally to map all the way through the manufacturing stage to end of life," she explained. 

 “We’re trying to set some science-based goals. We now have a sustainability report integrated into our annual report. It’s important to investors.”

Kline said that even though very few tires are going to landfills now — because they are being used as fuel and in rubberized asphalt — Pirelli is looking to plants and synthetic alternatives to rubber. 

“Dealers say customers are starting to ask for more environmentally friendly tires,” she said. “Up until now, the perception has been that not many people care, so why bother? Now, Pirelli is measuring everything and going back to the supplier and saying, ‘Can you lower this level of x, y, or z?’”

Watch for more tips and strategies in AIAG's July newsletter. Members can access all the presentations from this year’s Corporate Responsibility Summit online at www.aiag.org.

-Carla Kalogeridis, AIAG enews editor

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