Jaguar Land Rover and Novelis developed an automotive product called RC5754 aluminum alloy that contains up to 75 percent recycled content. Both companies recently announced that RC5754 has been integrated into the production of passenger vehicles. The two companies developed it as part of Jaguar’s REALCAR (Recycled Aluminum Car) project. It was introduced initially in the new Jaguar XE but will soon be used in all new and legacy Jaguar models.
Jaguar describes the REALCAR project in its latest sustainability report as its “long-term and constantly evolving closed-loop materials model that makes use of a recycled aluminium alloy RC5754.” The project required big investments on the part of Novelis and Jaguar. Novelis invested $8.6 million in expansion of its U.K. Latchford Plant, and Jaguar invested over $8.6 million in its Press Shops for the material.
Jaguar has a goal of incorporating 75 percent recycled aluminum materials in its vehicles by 2020, and the use of RC5754 helps it accomplish that goal. The goal is part of Jaguar’s larger aim to use more sustainable materials in its vehicles. The company believes the way to accomplish that goal is through the creation of a circular economy. “We believe the circular economy is an important strategy – placing a value on waste materials so that they are reused in place of natural raw and non-renewable materials,” Jaguar stated in its sustainability report.
What exactly is a circular economy? McKinsey and Co. defines it as aiming to “eradicate waste — not just from manufacturing processes, as lean management aspires to do, but systematically, throughout the lifecycles and uses of products and their components.” Further, McKinsey states that “tight component and product cycles of use and reuse, aided by product design, help define the concept of a circular economy.”
A circular economy is “restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times,” the Ellen MacArthur Foundation adds. It is “a continuous positive development cycle that preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows.”
Closed-loop manufacturing is part of creating a circular economy, as Jaguar mentions in its sustainability report. A case study on the REALCAR project by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership describes a closed-loop value chain as taking “a fundamentally non-linear approach.” Implementation of it is “predicated on the notion of a circular economy, combining both forward and reverse supply chains, and where product waste is incorporated in the production of new versions of the products,” researchers said. In other words, it is a different way of manufacturing, one in which the entire lifecycle of a product and the components to manufacture it are considered. In this case, the lifecycle of a vehicle and its components are considered.
The benefits of closed-loop manufacturing can be seen by looking at the REALCAR project. The project “delivered wide-ranging benefits,” the case study states. One of those benefits is a “significant reduction” in the lifecycle impact of Jaguar’s vehicles as recycled aluminum needs up to 95 percent less energy during production than primary material does.
Less climate change impact is another benefit. The REALCAR project reduced the climate change potential of the 2013 Range Rover TDV6 model by 13.8 percent over a typical vehicle’s entire lifecycle. And it puts Jaguar closer to its goal to achieve a 30 percent reduction in key environmental impacts during a vehicle’s entire lifecycle by 2020. Novelis also benefits from the project: It helps the company make progress on its own goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent.
The REALCAR project is an example of what applying the concepts of circular economy and closed-loop manufacturing can achieve. It also serves as an example to other car companies: If we want to reduce climate change impacts, these are concepts that need to be widely applied. The planet and its billions of inhabitants depend on it.
Image credit: Jaguar Land Rover