Volvo will lead the sustainability movement into the automobile industry by setting a new animal-free standard for car production. The international car company will begin its transition to sustainable, fully animal-free production with leather. The Swedish car company will start this transition with its new C40 Recharges – an electric coupe SUV that contains a completely leather-free interior. The leather-free car is the inaugural model in the company’s commitment to only sell electric vehicles free from animal products by 2030.
Volvo previously announced that it aimed to removed leather from its interiors, but the company extended this promise to include all animal byproducts from the cattle industry. The company recognized that the livestock sector is responsible for 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the greater animal agricultural industry. The commitment falls under Volvo’s goal to transition to a circular business by 2040. Currently, the company is working to use 25 percent recycled and bio-based materials as well as use 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.
“We have a vision of where we need to go in the future, with the first step to ensure we harness sustainable, natural, and recycled materials,” Head of Design at Volvo Cars Robin Page said. “The next challenge is to change what we do with these materials, whether that’s making car parts that last forever, re-enter the circular economy, or go back into the earth.”
Volvo’s decision to adopt more sustainable materials comes alongside its greater commitment to cut down its emissions, waste, and overall environmental costs in the coming decades. The goals reflect similar standards set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The car company adopted goal number 12 which promotes sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as goal number 15 which discusses the protection of biodiversity and living beings.
“As a progressive car manufacturer, we need to address all areas of sustainability, not just CO2 emissions,” the global sustainability manager at Volvo Cars Stuart Templar said. “Responsible sourcing, including respect for animal welfare, is an important part of this. Eliminating leather in our electric cars is a good next step.”
Volvo’s leather-free production model will be accompanied by the development of the brand’s new animal-free material Nordico. The leather replacement will be introduced in future Volvo models to completely replace the animal products used in the car models. The Nordico is the company’s interior material is created from recycled materials including PET bottles, corks from the wine industry, and bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Finland and Sweden.
“It is a challenge to find products and materials that support animal welfare. But that’s no reason to avoid this important issue,” Templar said. “It is a journey that is worth taking. If you’re progressive and sustainable in your thinking, you have to ask yourself tough questions and actively try to find answers.”
The shift towards sustainable materials is occurring all across the industry. Volvo intends on leading the automobile industry by setting this new sustainability standard. Among Volvo, several other carmakers including Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen have started experimenting with animal-free materials.
Earlier this year, BMW invested in the environmentally-friendly brand Natural Fiber Welding – a dedicated to developing plastic-free and vegan material. BMW plans to begin using the company’s vegan leather MIRIUM that uses byproducts from other industries. The entire automobile industry is marking that shift with Volvo taking the lead.
“Our animal-welfare ambitions and sustainability commitments, including the move to go leather-free, are also strongly grounded in a shift in customer behavior,” Templar said. “We see a growing trend in consumer demands for more sustainable materials and especially alternatives to leather in most of our key markets due to concern over animal welfare and the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming. We share these concerns and therefore would like to transition away from leather by contributing to reduced demands.”
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