Daimler intensifies activities for a sustainable raw material supply chain

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 02 Aug 2018

As part of the global offensive for a sustainable raw material supply chain, Daimler has joined forces with associations, organisations and competitors in a number of initiatives. The common goals are certifiable standards, safe origins and transparency in the procurement of high-risk raw materials and a tangible improvement in the working and living conditions of people locally. The aim is to actively promote greater transparency in global raw material supply chains.

Joining further initiatives complements Daimler AG's already existing activities for responsible procurement of raw materials and increases their impact. The focus of the initiatives is on the procurement of cobalt, steel and aluminium. A future step on the road to sustainable raw material procurement will be the complete transparency of, for example, the supply chain for battery cell production. Battery cells contain cobalt as well as lithium, nickel, copper and manganese.

"The expansion of electro mobility places new demands on the automotive industry and especially on purchasing. We are aware of our responsibility in the procurement of raw materials and are pooling our strengths in these initiatives through cooperation with other business enterprises," said Sabine Angermann, Head of Purchasing and Supplier Quality for Raw Materials and Strategy at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Fifty potential high-risk raw materials identified
As one important measure, the company has identified around 50 potentially high-risk raw materials. The goal is to make the supply chains for potentially high-risk raw materials transparent and to take risk-based, target-oriented measures successively..In the interest of a holistic sustainability strategy, joining the four initiatives takes a product's entire lifecycle into account – from development, via procurement and production to recycling.

"With every initiative we pursue concrete goals and are determined to implement them. We are committed to certifiable standards to create and implement a common understanding of sustainability throughout the supply chain," said Angermann.

Cobalt is a key component in the production of electric vehicles. Companies which work with cobalt as a raw material face the risk of not being able to completely exclude the violation of human rights during cobalt extraction. Therefore, Daimler says it has joined the Responsible Cobalt Initiative, to work with other companies and NGOs, government representatives, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop measures aimed at combating social and ecological risks along the entire cobalt supply chain. The aim is especially to exclude the risk of child labour, and increase transparency and governance.

To prevent the infiltration of material that might contribute to conflict, the company is also actively involved in the Responsible Minerals Initiative. RMI uses a self-developed, independent validation scheme for refineries and smelters to demonstrate that they have systems in place to ensure the responsible sourcing of minerals.

Aluminium is playing an increasingly important role as a lightweight-design material for electric cars as it is much lighter than steel. Daimler has also joined the non-profit Aluminium Stewardship Initiative to support the implementation of an independent certification scheme for the entire aluminium added value chain. The aim is to intensify dialogue with all stakeholders in the aluminium supply chain to achieve continually measurable improvements in the areas of social affairs, the environment and responsible business management – from aluminium production and usage to recycling.

Steel is the most commonly used material in cars and also represents the world's largest raw material industry. Steel production is highly energy-intensive and therefore accounts for a large share of the CO² emissions in the production phase. The Responsible Steel Initiative is pursuing greater transparency in the supply chain, from mines to steel product, and by developing a certification scheme will provide with new levels of reassurance against social and environmental standards. It also advocates the development and understanding of CO² levels in production.

Additionally Daimler is the lead partner of the industry initiative 'Drive Sustainability', a European Automotive-Workgroup coordinated by the CSR Europe corporate network, which promotes measures to improve sustainability in supply chains. As lead partner, Daimler AG will continue to play an active role in supporting the raising of sustainability standards in the supply chain throughout the industry. An important tool developed there is a uniform sustainability questionnaire. In addition, joint training and workshops are offered for suppliers to help them improve their sustainability performance.