With the world’s population forecast to exceed 9 billion by 2050, demand for natural resources like minerals and fossil fuels is set to rise. This makes it even more important to maximize the value obtained from these resources. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 also emphasize the importance of managing resources sustainably and using them efficiently. Automobiles are made of many components, incorporating a diverse range of resources. The combination of these resources creates new value. In addition to using resources as efficiently as possible, Nissan has increased its resource diversification and improved the proportion of renewable resources and recycled materials among them. Giving due consideration to ecosystems, we must become more competitive as we pursue green growth. Working toward the long-term vision of reducing dependency on new materials by 70% by 2050, we are striving to minimize our use of natural resources in order to maintain our new resource usage at 2010 levels.
Long-Term Vision for Reducing Resource Dependency
Resource Dependency Management
Circular Economy Concept
In order to use the Earth’s precious and limited resources efficiently, the environmental impact when extracting these resources must be kept to a minimum. At the same time, waste generated during vehicle production and scrap from end-of-life parts must be recycled as extensively as possible without compromising quality, producing materials that can be used in the same types of products. Based on this approach, known as closed-loop recycling, we have focused our efforts on recycling steel, aluminum and resin—three kinds of material which account for a large proportion of vehicle content yet also have a major impact on the environment. As part of the Nissan Green Program 2022 (NGP2022), Nissan is developing systems for using resources efficiently and sustainably across their entire lifecycle, and has adopted the concept of the “Circular Economy” to maximize the value it provides to customers and society. In order to use resources efficiently with less energy, we will promote the use of recycled materials and recycling end-of-life vehicles, and strive to incorporate reusable resources in our activities at the design, purchasing and manufacturing stages. We also aim to use fewer resources overall, both through appropriate use of chemical substances and making vehicles more lightweight. We will continue to promote the efficient use of resources with further reduced energy requirements and the expanded use of repaired and remanufactured parts as well as the secondary use of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the vehicle use stage, and foster the development of biomaterials and dieless forming technology for practical use. We will also increase the value cars provide to society and ensure that cars can be put to best use by promoting electrification and autonomous drive in our products, pursuing connectedness and providing mobility services such as ride sharing.
Circular Economy Concept
Resource Dependency: Achievements
Reducing Dependence on Newly Extracted Resources to 70%
Demand for mineral and fossil resources is rising rapidly with the growth of emerging economies. According to forecasts, if growth in extraction volumes continues, all currently known mineral resources will have been extracted by 2050. There are some existing mining sites and others under exploration that are located in areas with vulnerable local ecosystems, generating concern about the environmental effects of topsoil excavation, deforestation and wastewater. To address these issues, Nissan has implemented a policy of minimizing the use of newly extracted natural resources and maximizing the use of recyclable materials from the early development stage while also making structural improvements to facilitate recycling. We are also reducing the use of resources in the manufacturing process and making more efficient use of resources. In the Nissan Green Program 2022 (NGP2022), our goal is to cut the use of newly extracted resources by 30% per vehicle in fiscal 2022. We intend to increase the use of recycled materials in our vehicles on a global scale, including Japan, Europe and North America, in cooperation with our suppliers.
Nissan considers the three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle—from the design stage for new vehicles. Since fiscal 2005, all new models launched in the Japanese and European markets have achieved a 95% or greater recyclability rate.* We have also joined forces with other automotive companies to promote the recycling of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) through dismantling and shredding. We have achieved at least 95% effective recycling rate of ELVs in Japan since fiscal 2006. In fiscal 2018, we achieved a final recovery ratio for ELVs of 99.6% in Japan (as calculated by Nissan in accordance with the End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling Law), greatly exceeding the target effective recycling rate of 95% set by the Japanese government. ELV processing consists of four phases. First, Nissan ELVs entering the dismantling process are recycled, including flat steel, cast aluminum, bumpers, interior plastic parts, wire harnesses and precious rare earth metals. Second, specific items like lithium-ion batteries are collected individually and directed to a dedicated recycling process. Third, residues from the dismantling process are crushed and the metallic portions recovered. Fourth, the resulting ASR is turned into recycled materials. Since 2004, Nissan and 12 other Japanese auto manufacturers have supported ASR recycling facilities, as called for in Japan’s End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling Law, as an integral part of a system to recycle ASR effectively, smoothly and efficiently. Nissan is taking an important role in this joint undertaking. We have also established a take-back system for ELVs in Europe. This network of Authorized Treatment Facilities was developed for individual countries in collaboration with contracted dismantlers, contracted service providers and governments in alignment with a European ELV directive. Additionally, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. established a common scheme for recovering used lithium-ion batteries along with a system for processing these batteries appropriately, and put both into operation in fiscal 2018.
Calculated based on 1998 Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association definition and calculation guidelines (in Japan) and ISO 22628 (in Europe).
Nissan is promoting technical research to replace plastics and other resin materials used in automobiles with biomaterials derived from plants. NGP2022 contains concrete goals for biomaterials development, and these materials are already being used in cars. For example, the coverings on the seats in the new Nissan LEAF are made using biomaterials.
Proper Use of Regulated Chemical Substances
Defined Chemical Substance
Nissan revised its standard for the assessment of hazards and risks in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, actively applying restrictions to substances not yet covered by regulations but increasingly subject to consideration around the world. As a result, the number of substances covered by the Nissan Engineering Standard in fiscal 2018 rose to 4,043. These steps are thought to be necessary for future efforts in the repair, reuse, remanufacture and recycle loop for resources.
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Expansion of Remanufactured Parts
Parts with the potential for recycling include those reclaimed from end-of-life vehicles, as well as those replaced during repairs. In Japan, we collect and thoroughly check the quality of these secondhand parts. Those that receive a passing grade are sold through our retail outlets as Nissan Green Parts. We sell these parts in two categories: remanufactured parts, which are disassembled and have components replaced as needed, and reusable parts, which are cleaned and tested for quality before sale. In NGP2022, we are enhancing the deployment of Nissan Green Parts in Japan, and we’re also strengthening management to deploy similar kinds of activities in Europe and North America, aiming for twice the parts coverage in 2022 compared to 2016. This initiative provides customers who seek to use cars for a long period of time with the new option of using remanufactured parts.
Joint Venture to Promote Second-Life Use for Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries used in Nissan’s electric vehicles (EVs) retain capacity well beyond the useful life of the vehicles themselves. The “4R” business model—which reuses, refabricates, resells and recycles lithium-ion batteries—allows for their effective use as energy storage solutions in a range of applications, thus creating a much more efficient energy cycle of battery use. As the EV market expands, we anticipate a need to utilize reusable lithium-ion batteries more effectively. In 2010, we launched 4R Energy Corp., a joint venture with Sumitomo Corp., that is developing and testing the use of EV batteries in a stationary energy storage system. Japan is expected to see rising demand for such systems as part of energy storage and backup power systems that also feature solar panels on homes or business structures, and 4R Energy already sells systems for houses and apartment buildings. 4R Energy is actively developing a range of storage systems built with used Nissan LEAF lithium-ion batteries. In July 2015, the Nissan Advanced Technology Center (NATC) adopted an energy management system built from 24 used Nissan LEAF batteries. A factory for the reuse and refabrication of used lithium-ion batteries from EVs, the first of its kind in Japan, began operation in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, from March 2018. Reused and refabricated lithium-ion batteries are also sold as replacement batteries for EVs and used in stationary power storage systems, electric forklifts and other applications. We are extensively involved with 4R activities globally as well.
Reducing Use of Scarce Resources
Rare earth elements are scarce resources that are necessary components of EV and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) motors. Reducing their usage is important because of procurement challenges, as rare earth elements are unevenly distributed around the globe, and the shifting balance of supply and demand leads to price fluctuations. Nissan is expanding its use of an electric motor developed in 2012 that requires 40% less dysprosium (Dy) compared to conventional EV motors. The motor was first adopted in the Nissan LEAF, and reduced-dysprosium motors are now seeing increased use in hybrid vehicles as well. The 2016 Note e-POWER achieves a 70% reduction in Dy in its motor magnets, and these were also adopted for the new Nissan LEAF in 2017 and the Serena e-POWER in 2018. We are conducting technical research on further reductions for the future and have the ultimate goal of achieving zero usage of Dy in other components as well.
Resource Dependency: Achievements in Waste Reduction
Thorough Measures for Waste Materials
Nissan actively promotes measures based on the 3R approach in its production processes whenever possible, striving to minimize the waste generated and maximize recycling efficiency by thoroughly sorting waste. At the end of fiscal 2010, we achieved a 100% recovery rate at all of our production sites in Japan, including five manufacturing plants, two operation centers and five affiliates. Overseas, we have reached 100% rates at plants in Mexico, China, Thailand, Spain and elsewhere. We are striving to bring rates to industry-leading levels in each global region. We have been making great efforts to reduce the number of wooden pallets and cardboard boxes used in import and export parts shipping. We began replacing them with units made from steel more than 30 years ago, and we rolled out plastic substitutes over 20 years ago that are foldable and can be reused. We have also been working with our Alliance partner Renault to expand use of globally standardized, returnable containers. Through design activities carried out concurrently with logistics operations, we have recently considered ways to optimize the shape of parts from the development stage, thus helping to reduce the packaging materials required. Through such efforts, we plan to reduce waste from our production factories by 2% annually in Japan and by 1% annually worldwide—as compared to business as usual (BAU), that is, waste levels expected if no special steps had been taken.
For fiscal 2018, waste generated totaled approximately 206,645 tons. From fiscal 2018, the boundary of waste data covered by third-party assurance has been expanded globally, which resulted in an increase in the number of reporting sites. Waste generated globally from production sites in fiscal 2018 was 189,282 tons.*
This figure is subject to assurance by KPMG AZSA Sustainability Co., Ltd. For details, please see here.
By treatment method
Waste for disposal
Click here for more information (environmental data) on Resource Dependency (Facility Waste).