Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

When you see something labeled as “carbon neutral,” chances are that its manufacturer purchased carbon offsets to counterbalance the product’s environmental impact. Offsets typically involve supporting different environmental projects across the world, such as reforestation and conservation initiatives.

While that’s a good thing, the process isn’t sustainable in the long run and doesn’t prevent the emission of greenhouse gases in the first place. This is a common issue raised in the electric vehicle (EV) industry: Even if a car charges on green electricity and its engine doesn’t pollute, its manufacturing still has a significant environmental impact.

In an effort to set a new standard for sustainability in the auto industry, Volvo’s electric car company Polestar has recently announced a new initiative that will eliminate emissions associated with manufacturing, without having to rely on using offset credits.

The company’s broader climate goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, but the new climate-neutral car is expected to hit the market by 2030. To achieve that, the company will have to find much more sustainably sourced materials, from steel and aluminum to battery components.

“We need to get down to zero on all incoming components,” said Fredrika Klarén, the company’s head of sustainability. “So that is of course a huge challenge.” Part of the strategy to overcome that challenge will be to partner with industry suppliers that are currently working on alternatives, such as Swedish steel company SSAB, which plans to bring fossil-free steel to the market by 2026.

As battery-recycling technology is improving, Polestar will also push for recollection so that materials can be reused as many times as possible. Eventually, every material used in the car will have to be substituted with a sustainable alternative.

This may sound like a daunting task, but committing to achieving it is the first step in the journey to truly emissions-free vehicles. We will follow Polestar and continue to share updates as they become available.

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