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Chrysler Touts Turnaround, Emissions, Diversity in Sustainability Report

Leon Kaye | Monday October 31st, 2011 | 0 Comments
Chrysler Aspen, a Chrysler hybrid SUV (from WikiCommons)

Chrysler Aspen, a Chrysler hybrid SUV (from WikiCommons)

Having endured a painful restructuring, Chrysler Group LLC for now is on the path towards recovery. The company, of which Italy-based Fiat owns a majority stake, released its first ever sustainability report last week.

The 100-plus page report, written using the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability reporting framework, is a solid first start towards Chrysler sharing its environmental, social and governance performance. The report lucidly responds to its internal and external stakeholders, and answers a bevy of questions on issues from concerns over its long term viability to fuel economy and vehicle emissions.

Some of Chrysler’s recent highlights and achievements on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) front include:

  • Employees, don’t text and drive: telling your peers to not steer the wheel while typing on a minuscule QWERTY board is one thing. But Chrysler went a step further and implemented a corporate-wide ban on texting while driving–the first automaker to do so.
  • Improving recyclability: incorporating recycled materials into an automobile is a huge challenge for any manufacturer. Addressing concerns over the global food supply, Chrysler replaced soy-based polyol, a material that is the base of foam, with one that is sourced from what would otherwise be landfill waste.
  • The launch of its cutting-edge Trenton South Engine Plant, a LEED-certified Gold manufacturing facility that was built on a brownfield site. Chrysler claims that the plant, which opened last year, will eliminate the annual CO2 output of the equivalent of 1000 homes.
  • Chrysler’s factory in Saltillo, Mexico, is another green building that generates some of its power needs from a solar farm built in its roof.
  • The company re-engineered its automotive painting process in several factories so that now 85 percent of paint actually ends up on its cars; previously conventional paint guns had a 55 percent efficiency rate. The move has saved the company almost US$900,000 annually while reducing solid wastes by 24,500 pounds (11,000 kilograms).
  • Chrysler has also received favorable reviews from several diversity activist organizations for its women and minority hiring practices. The company has pledged a commitment to supplier diversity as well.

As for the Motor City, Chrysler and other Michigan companies have a way to go before demonstrating further commitment to Detroit. The company, which is based in suburban Auburn Hills barely mentioned Detroit at all. Advocates passionate about Detroit’s rebuilding will be deflated by the scant reference to the city. Chrysler, however, has committed to more shifts at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant, one of five that is within Detroit’s city limits.

Hybrid and electric car enthusiasts will also be disappointed by Chrysler’s scant discussion of these vehicles; currently the company describes its commitment as “a significant amount of resources” towards research and development. Considering the company’s long experimentation with hybrid, electric and alternative fueled cars, Chrysler’s mere mention of these cars is surprising.

Nevertheless, Chrysler’s first sustainability report is a solid first step in discussing Chrysler’s rebirth and shift towards becoming an even more responsible company.

 

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Leon Kaye is a consultant, writer, and editor of GreenGoPost.com and also contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.  He lives in Silicon Valley.


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