Many automakers publish annual reports documenting their efforts to adopt a more sustainable business model. Most of these promises involve greener manufacturing processes, promising to electrify their queues and recycle in the office. Few go as far as Volvo, actively working to make vehicles more durable all around, including the materials used inside the model.
A new report, released last week, details the findings of a new study conducted in partnership with The Future Laboratory. “The Rise of Conscious Design” details customer attitudes towards the future of materials.
Its findings are drawn from interviews and opinions from various executives, including Claire Bergkamp, COO of The Textile Exchange and former global director of sustainability and innovation for Stella McCartney; Wen Zhou, CEO of 3.1 Phillip Lim; Dr Leonardi Bonnani, Founder and CEO of Sourcemap; and Xu Gang, co-founder of Bentu Design.
The Winter 2020 Vogue Business Index found that two-thirds of customers view a brand’s environmental policies as a critical factor when purchasing luxury goods. The Carbon Trust, 2020 YouGov Survey found that the same percentage would like to see carbon labeling on products to provide greater transparency.
The transparency of the makeup of the ingredients is not a new concept. In many places around the world, cigarette packs already contain health warnings and menus show the number of calories and the list of ingredients.
Volvo is committed to manufacturing its vehicles with 25% recycled and biobased content by 2025. This is part of a larger effort to become a fully circular business by 2040. BMW has offered similar aspirations when it launched its i Vision Circular concept car at the IAA in Munich earlier this month.
Robin Page, Head of Design at Volvo Cars, said News week that the company’s commitment extends beyond the doors of its design studio.
“Volvo Cars is committed to responsible sourcing and we have clear animal welfare and traceability requirements in our contracts with our suppliers. These standards apply to them, as well as to their subcontractors. This includes securing an identified supply chain adhering to the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare through good husbandry practices and considerate treatment of animals throughout their lives.
“We have carried out process visits to Denmark and Scotland to verify compliance with our requirements, from farm to tannery, and have also carried out random annual checks with suppliers to verify adherence to these guidelines. “
The 2022 Volvo C40 will be the automaker’s first to be completely leather-less. The automaker will offer customers the option of high-quality, sustainable interior materials that have been created from bio-based and recycled sources.
Nordico, a new material created by Volvo, consists of recycled materials from PET bottles, bio-attributed materials from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and recycled corks from the wine industry. The material will make its debut in the next generation of Volvo models, likely the next redesigned XC90.
In addition, wool blend options from suppliers certified as responsible sources will be used.
Volvo’s sister company Polestar also takes an eco-friendly approach to vehicle design. The Polestar Precept concept, which was unveiled in 2020, blends high-tech and durable materials with an electrified powertrain. Its vegan interior and recycled materials combine to make the car 50% lighter than a traditional vehicle and reduce plastic use by 80%. Polestar later announced that the model would go into production.