Jaguar Land Rover drives circular value chain with REALCAR project

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will incorporate a sustainable aluminium alloy that contains up to 75% recycled content into the manufacturing of all of its vehicles, thanks to a successful collaborative project between the British carmaker and US aluminium can recycler Novelis.

The REALCAR (REcycled ALuminium CAR) project, launched by JLR in 2008 and funded by Innovate UK, sought to create a closed-loop value chain to recycle vehicles at the end of their lifecycles.

Through a collaboration with Novelis, documented in a case study by the the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), JLR trialled the new ‘RC5754’ aluminium alloy – made from automotive scrap metal – in the production of key components for the Jaguar XE sportscar.

The success of that REALCAR trial means that all new and legacy JLR models will now feature the RC5754 alloy.


“REALCAR has proven to be a resounding success, delivering financial and environmental benefits to both Jaguar Land Rover and Novelis, and contributing to the efforts of both companies to meet their environmental sustainability goals,” reads a new case study report co-authored by JLR sustainability manager and CISL senior associate Ian Ellison.

“Incorporating aluminium would lower the vehicle body mass, improve fuel efficiency and, as a result, reduce the environmental footprint and running costs for customers.

“Crucially, the experience gained and lessons learned from the creation and implementation of a closed-loop value chain for automotive aluminium are potentially applicable to other materials and other industries.”

REAL benefits

Recycled aluminium requires up to 95% less energy during production than primary material, while the lightweight properties of the material will help JLR in its aim to achieve a 30% reduction in key environmental impacts during the entire lifecycle of its vehicles by 2020, from a 2007 baseline.

Meanwhile, Novelis is able to make progress on sustainability through the collaborative project, by reducing its absolute greenhouse gas emissions – scope 1, 2 and 3 – by 13%, from a 2009 baseline.

Novelis Europe’s vice president of automotive Pierre Labat said: “Novelis is honored to work with Jaguar Land Rover to help lead the automotive industry in sustainable vehicle manufacturing. Our new RC5754 alloy not only meets the high recycled content threshold required by Jaguar Land Rover’s REALCAR project, but it also delivers the strength, durability and formability specified by Jaguar Land Rover engineers.”

The REALCAR project was highlighted as a prime example of a successful closed-loop value chain by Innovate UK’s head of sustainability Richard Miller, who last year told edie of the need for more cross-sector collaboration on sustainability.

Miller said: “Each partner involved in the collaboration had clearly defined roles and offered complementary expertise to successfully deliver the project objectives. I genuinely believe things like this will happen a lot more.

“Collaboration is essential – some of Innovate UK’s programmes have specifically targeted collaborative R&D projects; bringing groups of businesses together to ensure there is a profit at every stage in a closed-loop system, so that everybody has an incentive to play the game.”

Driving change

Writing about the project on the CISL webisite, Ellison concluded: “It’s unusual for customers to request a car ‘with sustainable value chains’, but they care about environmental performance and it’s important to educate car buyers about factors beyond fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions. If they value our efforts, it’s easier to make the case to close the loop on more value chains in the future.

“The learning points go beyond the automotive industry and are available to other companies working to create closed loop value chains and circular economy business models. We offer our learning points as a case study for businesses, governments and investors and hope that it informs and inspires others to follow our journey.”

Earlier this month, JLR’s 2014/15 sustainability report revealed that the firm will be investing £36m over the next three years in renewable energy, energy efficiency and process improvements, off the back of rising absolute carbon emissions.

Read the full REALCAR case study here.

Resource Efficiency at edie Live 2016

How do you ensure your business is protected from scarcity in the supply chain? How do you reduce usage and find ways to reduce your waste outputs at the same time? Who is responsible and how do you effect change on an organisational level?

From specific strategies and solutions to analysis of the broader issues at play, the Resource Efficiency Theatre at edie Live 2016 in May is a must-attend for any business, small or large, seeking to reduce their consumption, minimise their waste outputs and mitigate risk in their supply chains.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here

Luke Nicholls

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