Action now to clear the way for responsible sourcing in e-mobility
The switch to electric propulsion in the mobility sector will send demand for certain raw materials soaring. Appropriate action must therefore be taken now to reduce resource consumption and the associated environmental impacts.
What can be done to integrate lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) into a circular economy and enable responsible sourcing of raw materials along the entire supply chain? A research team from the Oeko-Institut has investigated this question as part of the EU-funded RE-SOURCING project and made appropriate recommendations. The researchers focused on four raw materials – lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite – at three supply chain stages: mining, cell manufacturing, and recycling. The result is the Mobility Sector – Roadmap for Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials until 2050.
A level playing field along the supply chain
In the Roadmap, the researchers identified three main targets: circular economy and decreased resource consumption; responsible procurement; and a level playing field along the LIB supply chain. The same sustainability standards should apply to all stakeholders, from mining to product recycling, thus removing the financial benefits of sub-standard production.
"Our Roadmap clearly shows that we need to act now!” says Stefanie Degreif from the Oeko-Institut. “Whether we are talking about policy-makers, industry or NGOs: we have no time to lose in making responsible sourcing in supply chains a reality.”
Examples of good practice
The Roadmap is supplemented by a document setting out Good Practice Guidelines. Here, the researchers present examples of good practice, collected during the research process, which can serve as models or inspiration for other stakeholders. Automobile manufacturer BMW uses the IRMA standard for responsible sourcing of certain primary raw materials. Based on the EU’s proposal for an overarching Battery Regulation, the document also shows how policy-making can establish a circular economy with specific targets. The KYBURZ company demonstrates how the circular economy for lithium-ion batteries can function in practice.
Sustainable transformation of the mobility sector by 2050
In 2019, the mobility sector was responsible for around one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, with 70% of this figure coming from road transport. The European Green Deal calls for a 90% reduction in transport-related emissions by 2050 in order to achieve climate neutrality.