Category 18 April 2019

Use of life cycle assessment and index for recyclability tools to achieve sustainable production throughout Renault’s vehicle value chain.

Renault, an auto manufacturer in France and Japan, uses a range of management tools to systematically optimise sustainable production at each stage of its product lifecycle. 

The challenge

The vehicle production chain includes complex and specialised actors. Environmental and social challenges can rise at any life-cycle stage of a vehicle from the manufacturing of individual auto parts and components, to consumption at the end-of-life stage. Renault pursues a Life-Cycle-Management approach to address environmental and social concerns across the entire automotive value chain.

The innovation

As part of its LCM approach, Renault considers the design phase to be the most important one due to its implications on the lifecycle phases that follow. The brand has developed an ‘eco-design toolkit’ to assist auto designers which includes: LCA (a method to study the environmental impacts of a vehicle from cradle to grave), a Material Sheet (a decision support tool to determine problematic substances and to provide alternative solutions), Index of Recyclability by Function (IRF) (to estimate the recyclability of each individual part of a car) and the Eco-Index (to evaluate the quality of packaging and to reduce packaging waste). Thanks to these tools, Renault is now able to consider lifecycle implications at the design stage.

At all of its manufacturing sites Renault uses an Environmental Management System, The Ecorisques, which defines the best environmental practice for each workstation. Renault has integrated renewable energy systems such as solar, thermal and wind generators at a number of its worksites around the world to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their production process. For waste reduction and treatment at their manufacturing plants the brand implements a so-called 4R approach based on the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover energy. Additionally, all sites run by the car manufacturer are certified ISO 14001.

Renault gives equal importance to the ecological impacts at the distribution phase and has trained its employees in their management system for waste and chemicals. During the use life phase of the automobile lifecycle, fuel consumption and consequent greenhouse gas emissions are major environmental challenges. Renault introduced the eco2 label in May 2007 for labelling, the most eco-efficient vehicles on offer by the brand. Its efforts to develop zero-emission cars can be seen with the launch of Kangoo Z.E and Fluence Z.E both electric cars which were released in 2011.

As part of its LCM approach Renault has developed a plan for recycling its vehicles. The plan aims to optimise the reduction, recycling, recovery and reuse of important parts and materials when discarding old vehicles.

Why did it work?

Renault’s LCM approach emerged from the car manufacturers need to reduce the environmental, social and economic risks that could impact its product value chain. The LCM approach allows Renault to enhance resource efficiency, reduce energy consumption, save water and other important material inputs, while minimising the waste produced by these processes through sustainable manufacturing practices.

Further deployment

The production practices based on LCM thinking help Renault assess and improve the brand’s environmental and social impact which ultimately results in securing the confidence of customers and the regulatory authorities. The company has already introduced electric vehicles and bio-fuel driven cars. The research and development of alternative materials to replace harmful substances used as part of car manufacturing is an on-going task at Renault. The maturity of Renault’s eco-manufacturing practices is estimated to be 9 on GML scale.

 Links:Case studies of four car manufacturers on green marketing within automotive industryThe Renault website