• Suppliers encouraged to adopt greener production
  • Aims to make 95% of its vehicles recyclable by 2015
  • CO2 reduced by 123kg per vehicle since 2008
Kias Gwangu plant in Korea

Kia's Gwangu plant in Korea

Hyundai Motor Group's Kia affiliate is planning a number of green initiatives in 2013 as part of its commitment to put the environment at the forefront of its business operations - a pledge which, it said, has now been in force for a decade.

The focus will not just be on lowering the fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions of cars. There will be measures to reduce consumption and waste across the entire vehicle life cycle.

Suppliers are being encouraged to adopt greener production methods and the automaker will implement further measures to clean up its own factories. There will be more efficient transport methods right across the supply, manufacturing and distribution chains, and greater recycling when vehicles reach the end of their useful life.

Kia will also disclose even more environmental information about its products to help customers make greener choices.

In 2012 it set up a green network of 68 environmental experts to seek ways to make its factories cleaner. Their findings will be implemented this year, starting at the three domestic plants - Gwangju, Sohari and Hwaseong. 

Parts manufacturing is the second-greatest contributor to a car's CO2 after usage - typically 10% to 15% of the total of a medium-sized saloon. Since 2003 the automaker has been helping its main suppliers set up environmental management systems, and this was extended to tier two and three suppliers in 2006.

This year it will sign an agreement with the Korean government to establish a pilot scheme for an integrated energy management system across the whole supply chain. The Gwangju plant has already been granted ISO 50001 certification in recognition of its energy management efforts. The Sohari and Hwaseong factories will reach the same standard this year.

There will also be further efforts to streamline the distribution network. The aim is to reduce the number of shipments to domestic factories, from warehouses to the production line and of completed cars to the dealer network. This will have the added advantage of reducing costs.

It will share more logistics information with its second and third tier suppliers, and continues to use larger cargo transporters and ports closer to its factories to reduce its own distribution mileage. It is also setting up a system for forecasting customer demand to make the parts supply more efficient.

The Namyang Research and Development Center in Korea established a pilot carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant in 2012, and Kia is planning to commercialise CCS in 2015. Last year, total CO2 output fell by the equivalent of the intake of 28m mature pine trees. There has been a 123kg reduction in the company's CO2 output per car since 2008.

As long ago as 2002 the automaker began developing safe substitutes for hazardous materials and chemicals at its factories, changing or replacing components as necessary.

In 2004 it started comparing resource consumption against sales revenue, and has achieved a 49.1% improvement in nine years. It also tabulates the resources it uses against emissions and waste and the value generated during the manufacturing process.

It has achieved a 23% reduction in waste in 10 years. Less than 1% of waste is taken to landfill, and there are plans to reduce the amount of incinerated waste from 8.4% to 3% by 2016. More than 90% of waste from the three Korean plants is recycled.

Water consumption at the domestic factories has fallen by 25.8% since 2003 - a valuable contribution in a country which is classified as having potential water shortage problems. Internal standards on managing water and atmospheric pollutants are more stringent than those required by law.

From the start of the design phase, the automaker establishes digital blueprints on the recyclability of its cars as part of a life cycle assessment. It aims to make 95% of its vehicles recyclable by 2015.

Last year the company developed its own airbag removal device and a manual on the safe disposal of lithium-ion batteries from hybrid vehicles. This manual has been distributed throughout the Korean recycling and dismantling industry.