The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation, perhaps greater than that which followed the oil crisis in the seventies. Its suppliers are also feeling this change and recognising the need to become more environmentally friendly, equipped to meet the needs of ever more stringent environmental legislation and better informed customers.
The Government is promoting an integrated transport strategy and discussing the introduction of laws, which will make it illegal to scrap a car in any way except through Government approved recycling yards. The motor industry appears to support this move and so must take action to ensure that its products are capable of being recycled easily, cheaply and efficiently to meet Government targets. Nearly all new and proposed environmental legislation is going to have a financial impact on the automotive trade and its suppliers.
Most automotive companies are focusing on minimising the environmental impact of their operations and are setting up systems, often including their suppliers, to ensure that all environmental effects are monitored and controlled. For example:
- Rover has all of its sites certified to the Environmental Management System (EMS) standard ISO14001 and now plans to have the 'majority' of first tier suppliers certified to ISO14001 by 2000;
- Ford is committed to achieving global certification to ISO14001 by the end of 1998 and its Jaguar Group has set a target for its 350 top-tier suppliers to be working towards certification to ISO14001 by the end of 2000;
- Vauxhall has three sites certified under the Eco Management and Audit Scheme
Toyota, with interesting lateral thinking, has developed genetically engineered trees which absorb carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, more efficiently. A case of changing the planet to meet the product, rather than changing the product to meet the planet. Toyota is also accredited to ISO14001.
This is an interesting approach. However, developing and maintaining a system to identify and control environmental effects (such as an EMS) is probably a more effective first step and vital to improved environmental performance.
An EMS such as ISO14001 allows organisations to assess how their business activities interact with the environment by:
- bringing together information on activities, products and services;
- understanding the environmental aspects of business activities;
- breaking down environmental information and data into manageable components;
- analysing the information collected;
- prioritising areas for activity to improve overall environmental performance.
Although there is a cost associated with implementing an EMS, most companies have seen rapid payback through efficiency measures and reducing waste costs.
For assistance with any environmental issues please contact: Chris Burgess or Malcolm McKenzie-Crawford, Bristol, +44 (0) 117 984 2805