Our goal is to transform our value chain into a value cycle. That’s because even as the global demand for mobility is increasing, the availability of resources is declining. We’re therefore taking on responsibility in terms of both products and production. More specifically, we are seeking to increasingly decouple resource consumption from production growth – for example by closing material cycles, making our processes even more efficient, and increasing the share of recyclates in our products.
Our targets until 2030
* In production, as compared to the average for 2013/2014
** Per kWh, as compared to 2015
*** The reduction was 23 percent if a reclassification of waste for disposal (according to Daimler Group environmental guidelines) at one international location in 2017 is deducted. Accordingly the target for 2030 is currently being reevaluated and adjusted, if necessary.
Decoupling resource consumption from growth
Environmental challenges are increasing around the world. At Daimler, we are therefore working to close material cycles and further improve the efficiency of our processes in an effort to reduce overall resource consumption and promote the further development of a circular economy. We plan to increase transparency regarding the use of secondary raw materials in our products – at all business units and in all regions. This particularly applies to materials that we require in large amounts – i.e. steel, aluminum, and polymers, as well as the key raw materials used to manufacture batteries.
Lower materials consumption, lower impact
Our target is to make our vehicles lighter while continuing to reduce the environmental impact of materials used in their production. For this, we are employing new lightweight materials and components, and we also plan to gradually increase the share of renewable raw materials and recycled materials used in our vehicles. Since 2005, we have continually increased the share of plastic recyclates in our vehicles. Within the framework of our research and development activities, we also continue to work on ways to alter the chemical composition of our batteries, which influences their energy density. Such alterations could also lower total battery weight and thus reduce the raw material requirement for future batteries.
Identifying critical raw materials: The ESSENZ method
Several types of raw materials used in electric vehicles are associated with certain risks. In order to better assess these risks with regard to passenger cars, we conducted the ESSENZ research project together with partners from industry and science. The result has been a new holistic approach that our engineers are already using in the early phases of vehicle development. Their risk assessments in line with the ESSENZ approach show them how critical the use of a certain raw material is today or can become in the future. Along with the geological availability of a raw material, our engineers also examine socioeconomic factors and social and societal risks.
Resource-efficient: “Factory 56”
A characteristic feature of “Factory 56” is its modular building structures that stand out through their energy-efficient and eco-friendly design. The “Factory 56” production hall at the Sindelfingen plant will reduce water consumption and waste production significantly compared to a conventional facility. We have also implemented a range of measures that will ensure lower energy consumption for “Factory 56”. The fact that 40 percent of the roof’s surface is to be planted will not only offset the creation of impervious ground surfaces and ensure rainwater retention; it will also improve the interior climate in the hall.
From a value chain to a value cycle
We aim to avoid waste and unnecessary resource and energy consumption wherever possible. Within the framework of our remanufacturing approach, we are employing an industrial process to recondition used Mercedes-Benz GenuineParts. These genuine replacement parts, which include engines and transmissions, are thus recycled and used in a second automotive life cycle. The process results in considerably lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions than would be the case if a new component was to be produced. We are utilizing our remanufacturing approach for both traditional drivetrain components and the high-voltage batteries that are used in our electric and hybrid vehicles.
The more we succeed in reusing components, the less energy and resources we will consume during the entire production process. Our priority is therefore a high remanufacturing quota. To achieve this, it is important for us to be involved in the early development phases of a vehicle so that our requirements concerning the parts are taken into account.
Andreas Jörg Responsible for Remanufacturing and Value Parts & Services
at Mercedes-Benz AG Read the full interview
New life for used parts
We also disassemble end-of-life vehicles at our Mercedes-Benz used parts center (Gebrauchtteile-Center – GTC) in Neuhausen, Germany and make sure that as many used parts as possible can be reused and sold. Parts and components that are not suitable for reuse are recycled. Our goal here is to recover as many valuable recyclable materials as possible – for example copper cables, aluminum and iron scrap, glass, plastics, and shock absorbers.
A second life for vehicle batteries
High-voltage batteries that have been taken from electric and hybrid vehicles and are no longer suitable for remanufacturing are set aside for reuse. One example of how a high-voltage battery can be reused is in stationary energy storage units, or second-life energy storage systems. The reuse of electric vehicle batteries enables us to improve the eco-balance and economic efficiency of electric vehicles while also making a contribution to a sustainable energy industry.
Energy storage systems can offset fluctuations in electricity production from renewable sources, smooth out load peaks, and serve as backup power sources. The reuse of old vehicle batteries offers a way to operate such storage systems at a low level of resource utilization. Seven such energy storage systems are already operating in Germany.
Our plan for the long term is to transform our entire value chain into a closed-loop value cycle to the greatest extent possible. One of the ways to do this is to return our waste to the material cycle. The materials used in a battery are still very valuable at the end of the battery’s life cycle. The recycling and reuse of such materials are currently the focus of our strategic activities and will remain so in the future. Here it is important and necessary for us to incorporate our suppliers more extensively into our activities in this regard – for example through dialog and qualification measures. In addition, we are working in various initiatives that are designed to reduce resource consumption in key raw materials industries.Environmentally friendly and resource-conserving production
1 This large reduction from 2013/2014 to the reporting year was, among other factors, achieved through a reclassification of foundry sands at our plant in Mannheim, which are since 2017 being used to seal landfills.