October is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Month in Japan. Government agencies – the ministries of the Environment; Finance; Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Economy, Trade and Industry; Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; and Consumer Affairs – come together to promote efforts to create a greater recycling-oriented society.
Closed loop recycling
Nissan supports Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Month and has a long-term commitment to creating a sustainable mobility society. Nissan builds cars from a 3R point of view, starting at the design, development and engineering phase, and considers the vehicle’s total life cycle for ease of recycling and scrapping of used cars.
Nissan also has focused on raising the usage rate of recycled materials in new vehicles since FY2011 as Part of the Nissan Green Program 2016, a mid-term environmental action plan. In particular, Nissan is promoting the “closed-loop recycling” method in which production remnants and collected Nissan products are recycled as parts materials and reused in similar products, all maintaining the high level of quality for which Nissan is known. Using this approach, materials can be used repeatedly, and CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts can be reduced.
Material composition of a vehicle
(Source: the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association)
Why does the use of recycled materials increase?
According to the World Resources Institute, mining and exploration sites currently in operation are in environmentally sensitive areas. Mineral mining requires large amounts of water, and one of the concerns is that the intensive processes can impact ground water and the surrounding environment. As demand for cars is expected to increase, the demand on resources and the price of materials also are expected to rise. So both the environmental impact of the materials used and the costs of purchasing new materials must be considered.
In order to continue to meet the transportation needs of customers and minimize the impact on the environment, Nissan will limit the use of virgin materials and promote saving resources by recycling and reusing materials. Nissan will increase the adoption rate of recycled materials for new cars to 25 percent (by weight) by fiscal year 2016 and to 70 percent in the long term to maintain the total amount of materials used in fiscal year 2050 at the level of fiscal year 2010.
To achieve this target, Nissan is promoting recycling resin, aluminum and iron to be reused as vehicle materials in the closed-loop recycling system.
Why does Nissan focus on resin, aluminum and iron?
Resin, aluminum and iron are the three commonly used materials in vehicle production that put impact on the environment both at the front and back ends of the lifecycle – mining is an intensive process, and processing and disposal require a lot of energy. So to put less stress on the environment, Nissan supports recycling and reusing as much of these materials in building vehicles as possible.
Specifically, the iron and aluminum content used to produce vehicles is of very high quality, but on average, 40 to 50 percent of the material became waste that was then sold as scrap to other industries. As Nissan began reviewing processes for better practices, we worked with our materials manufacturers to recycle this material for use in our products. So for the most effective use of quality materials, Nissan actively promotes reducing waste as well as recycling material with materials manufacturers.
A recycling process at the Nissan Oppama Plant
Nissan’s recycling efforts
At Nissan, steel and aluminum remnants produced in the stamping process are collected and delivered to material manufacturers to be returned to the cycle for other materials production. Aluminum wheels collected from used vehicles are cleaned and recycled to produce other aluminum wheels.
Resin bumpers replaced and collected at dealers are recycled into bumpers for new vehicles in a recycling process at the Nissan Oppama Plant. In this process, bumpers are ground and paint film is peeled off at a lower cost than before without using chemicals. Resin parts recovered from used vehicles are recycled into parts for new cars using a technology to match colors.
Recycled materials used in Nissan LEAF
Use of recycled materials in Nissan LEAF are illustrated in the right side.
Nissan is committed to using recycled materials and enhancing recycling processes to reduce the environmental impact on the planet.